Ever since I skipped the side trip to Pine Valley on the Overland Track, I knew I had to go back there, and do it. This is definitely one of the most rewarding walks in Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair National Park, and an excellent base for exploring the Acropolis, and the Labyrinth Plateau. Did you skip it on the Overland Track too? Don’t you worry! Pine Valley can be accessed from Lake St Clair, and done as an overnight trip. In this blog post, I’m going to share with you all you need to know about hiking into Pine Valley in Tasmania. Enjoy!
PINE VALLEY: NEED TO KNOW
Pine Valley is usually done by hikers on day 6 of the Overland Track, and that makes them finish the walk on day 7. Those who missed this sensational side trip can get there without retracing the steps entirely. You can achieve that by starting the walk from Lake St Clair, and returning to the same place. As of June 2022, no prior booking is required for staying overnight in Pine Valley. You are free to go there whenever you want. All you need to do is to secure a valid Tasmania Park Pass, and get ready for this epic adventure.
Pine Valley – map
PINE VALLEY: ITINERARY
Staying three nights in Pine Valley Hut is enough to climb up the Acropolis, explore the Labyrinth Plateau, and even walk the distance along Lake St Clair two times. Although, it’s much quicker to catch a ferry, many hikers decide to walk from Cynthia Bay to Narcissus Hut or in the opposite direction at least once. Just to tick it off. The truth is that if you’re a fit hiker, you can easily accomplish this hike in two days, spending only one night in Pine Valley Hut. It pretty much depends on your preferences, fitness level, and time restraints.
An example itinerary:
- Day 1, Cynthia Bay to Pine Valley, 26,4 km
- Day 2, Pine Valley to the Acropolis, and back, 7,7 km
- Day 3, Pine Valley to the Labyrinth, and back, 6 km
- Day 4, Pine Valley to Cynthia Bay, 26,4 km
Here’s what I did:
- Day 1, Narcissus Hut to Pine Valley, the Acropolis, the Labyrinth, and back to Pine Valley, 22,6 km
- Day 2, Pine Valley to Cynthia Bay, 26,4 km
CYNTHIA BAY – NARCISSUS HUT
This section is 17,5 km long, and can be either walked or covered by boat. Honestly speaking, it’s the least exciting part of this hike, so feel free to jump on a ferry on your way up to Pine Valley or back. A little bit of planning is needed though as the ferry has to be booked in advance. There is only one operator, and the spots are rather pricey, but it does save you heaps of time. The ferry runs 3 times a day during summer, and based on demand in winter. Full timetable with ticket prices, and booking details can be found here.
Taking the ferry from Cynthia Bay to Narcissus Hut is easy. You just need to show up on time. However, on your way back, despite the booking, you are required to confirm your presence by radio call upon arrival at Narcissus Hut. That helps the operator to manage the no-shows. The radio call procedure for ferry confirmation is available in the hut. Alternatively, for those walking around the lake, the track passes through rainforest with some water views every now and then, and many shady spots to have a little rest.
Walking track: 17,5 km, 5 hours (one way)
NARCISSUS HUT – PINE VALLEY
It took me 3 hours to walk from Narcissus Hut to Pine Valley, and I found this section to be rather flat and easy. Follow the Overland Track through dry eucalypt forest until you get to the Pine Valley turn off. Another 5 km, and you will reach your destination. Pine Valley Hut has two huge bunk beds with a total capacity of 16 people. There is also a rain water tank, and a long drop toilet. Friendly reminder. Don’t forget your tent. If the hut is fully occupied, you’ll have to sleep outside. Use one of the wooden platforms to set up your tent.
Walking track: 8,9 km, 3 hours (one way)
PINE VALLEY – THE ACROPOLIS
The Acropolis (1481 m) is one of the most prominent peaks in Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair National Park. The trail starts at Pine Valley Hut, passes by Cephissus Falls, and goes up towards the south face of the mountain. It’s lacking signs though, so look for cairns, and arrows instead. Once you reach the elevation of 1100 m, you will get to see the Acropolis in all its glory. From here, the track gets steeper, and requires some rock scrambling. You will have to use your legs and hands to go over boulders just before the summit.
Walking track: 7,7 km, 3 hours (return)
PINE VALLEY – THE LABYRINTH
The Labyrinth Plateau is an extensive area, and a gateway to explore the rugged Du Cane Range. Most hikers turn back after reaching the Labyrinth Lookout (1202 m) as going further will most likely require an overnight stay up in the mountains. With that being said, this is going to be a 6 km out-and-back hike that takes around 3 hours to accomplish. Start at Pine Valley Hut, and follow the well-marked trail which later on winds its way through the plateau. For more Overland Track alternatives, please go to a separate blog post.
Walking track: 6 km, 3 hours (return)
This is all you need to know about hiking into Pine Valley in Tasmania. Are you going to walk around Lake St Clair or catch a ferry? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
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