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The best hiking trails to enjoy in Australia this summer

Cradle Mountain Hiking

If there’s one thing we’re keen to do after spending the past year at home, it’s embrace adventure and explore the great outdoors. We want to climb rocky summits, walk through lush greenery, marvel at sweeping vistas and conquer mountain peaks. Put simply, we want to get our ~nature~ on. And no one does a hiking track quite like Australia. From red-dirt outback tracks in the Northern Territory to pristine alpine trails in Tasmania, these are 12 of the best hikes in Australia to tackle this summer.

1. Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach Circuit – Freycinet National Park, Tasmania

The Freycinet National Park is world-famous thanks to Wineglass Bay, a sandy crescent-shaped beach with beautiful blue waters. Hiking through the park, you’ll get to take in the remarkable views of the Bay, along with Great Oyster Bay, Hazards Beach and the surrounding coastal woodland. The walk comes in at just over 11km, with an estimated time of 4-5 hours and a few bursts of steep inclines. With views like these, the trek is well worth the effort.

wineglass bay tasmania

Image source:Tim Hart / Unsplash

2. King’s Canyon Rim Walk – Watarrka National Park, Northern Territory

There are hundreds of incredible sights to see in Australia’s Red Centre, but the King’s Canyon Walk is certainly one of the most astonishing. Hike through the soaring sandstone walls of the Canyon, admire the native plants and keep your eyes peeled for local animals on this 6km loop. At the bottom of the climb, check out the remarkable Garden of Eden – a rock hole with a unique ecosystem of rare plants. The 6km loop must be walked in a clockwise direction per the NT government, and it takes about 3-4 hours to finish.

king's canyon northern territory

Image source:Contiki

3. K’gari (Fraser Island) Great Walk – Fraser Island, Queensland

You’ll need to strap on your hiking boots for this one, as this track stretches for an impressive 90km. The full track takes about six to eight days to complete, with hikers camping under the stars at night on the trip from Dilli Village to Happy Valley. But for travellers keen to tackle a smaller hike, it can be broken up into shorter walks. The landscape is teasingly diverse – with subtropical rainforests, woodlands, coastal wallum and long sandy bays to explore. Some of the best sights to see on the trail include Lake McKenzie, Lake Wabby, Lake Birrabeen, Wanggoolba Creek and the Valley of the Giants.

4. Cape to Cape Track – Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, Western Australia

If you’re visiting the charming towns and world-famous wineries of Margaret River, you need to add some of the region’s amazing walking tracks to your itinerary. The Cape to Cape Track is the most iconic – and most challenging – spanning an incredible 140km along the ridges and beaches of the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park. Over 5-6 days you’ll trek through limestone caves, remote beaches, karri forest and coastal heath with breathtaking wildflowers in the spring.

Fortunately, the track has also been divided into shorter walks – with boardwalks and hard-paved sections making it readily accessible for all fitness levels and abilities.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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5. Mt Gower Trek – Lord Howe Island, New South Wales

At 875m tall, Mt Gower is the highest point on Lorde Howe Island and offers sweeping views of the region’s lush green hills, white sand and crystalline waters. The Mt Gower Trek is a challenging hike, with an eight-hour return time frame and parts aided by rope-assisted climbs. It’s tough, but it’s one of the best hikes in Australia.

For those who don’t know, the island is famous for its unspoiled natural beauty, which is kept in check by strict tourism guidelines. There are only 350 people living on the island, which accepts just 400 visitors at a time. Which means you get to see some incredible sights like this…

 

 
 
 
 
 
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6. Kosciuszko National Park Summit Walk – Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales

There are a bunch of tracks and trails to test out on Australia’s tallest mountain, but the Kosciuszko National Park Summit Walk is arguably the best. This high-altitude adventure takes place on the peaks of the mountain, with hikers catching a chairlift from Thredbo to the start of the walk. From there, it’s a 13km return trek that takes about 4-5hrs. More experienced hikers can begin the walk from Charlotte Pass, making it an 18.6km journey taking 6-8hrs.

7. Gibraltar Peak Walk – Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Australian Capital Territory

A short drive from Canberra, the Gibraltar Peak Walk is a popular track thanks to its ease of access and shorter 8.2km distance. Cutting through open grassland and rocky outcrop, the hike to the top ends with a steep climb to Eliza Saddle – but the stunning scenery visible from the top makes it all worth it.

 

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8. The Overland Track – Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, Tasmania

Spanning 65km and taking about six days to complete, The Overland Track is one of the most scenic and iconic hikes to take in Australia. The one-way track is long, rough and steep, but is worth the effort as it weaves through remote alpine terrain, glacially carved valleys, ancient rainforests and eucalypt forests, meadows and moorlands. Not to mention, it’ll take you from the iconic Cradle Mountain through the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area to the pristine Lake St Clair.

If a six-day hike isn’t your vibe, the Dove Lake Circuit is another favourite in the area. Taking just two hours to complete, the walk traverses the bay of Dove Lake beneath the peaks of Cradle Mountain (pictured at the top of the article).

9. Larapinta Trail – West MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory

This is one for the serious hikers, but it’s also one of the most famous treks in the world. A 231km path weaves through the West MacDonnell Ranges, taking you from the Alice Springs Telegraph Station through to the summit of Mount Sonder. Over the lengthy trail, you’ll come across sights like the Ormiston Gorge, Hugh Gorge, Redbank Gorge, Count’s Point, Ellery Creek Big Hole and Standley Chasm.

The trail divided into 12 sections, with each part taking an estimated 1-2 days to walk, and the trails also link in with other walking tracks in the region, so you can customise your own trek depending on how long you want to spend out in the ranges.

 

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10. Pulpit Rock Walking Track – Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales

The World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains spans an impressive 11,400km2 and boasts impressive natural sights and significant historical landmarks. From the famous Three Sisters rock formation to the cascading Wentworth Falls, there’s a lot to see in this region. You could spend months hiking all the walks and trails through the national park, but the Pulpit Walking Track has to be one of the best for a day-trip to the mountains.

The Pulpit Walking Track takes you from Govetts Leap on a 7.6 km return journey through heathlands, rocky trails, waterfalls and swamps. All the while, you’ll be looking out across panoramic views of the Grose Valley before reaching the Instagram-worthy Pulpit Rock Lookout.

 

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11. Tooloona Circuit – Lamington National Park, Queensland

For those looking to experience the famous tropical rainforests and ancient trees of Australia, you can’t look past Lamington National Park. Lush greenery is in abundance here, and the Tooloona Circuit takes you through the magnificent forest and past a whopping 13 waterfalls.

The 17.4km journey takes about six hours to complete, taking you on a circuit from Green Mountains trailhead. Passing cascades like Chalahn and Toolona Falls, you’ll see sights including the Toolona Gorge, Wanungara Lookout, Mount Warning and Limpinwood Valley all while admiring the ancient ferns through the park.

12. Mount Rosea Walk – Grampians National Park, Victoria

Grampians National Park is brimming with spectacular walks to try out, from the iconic multi-day Grampians Peaks Trail to the quick and easy Venus Baths Loops Trail. But the Mount Rosea Walk sits somewhere in the middle of these two on the difficulty scale, requiring some hiking experience to cover the 12km return track through rocky outcrop and forest. Though it’s challenging and steep at times, this walk is considered one of the best thanks to the 360-degree view of the Grampians that you’ll uncover at the peak.

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