Location: Wellington Park, Hobart
Length: 9 kilometres return
Grade: 4 (some experience recommended for steep grades)
Distance from: Hobart CBD - 23 km, Launceston - 223 km, Devonport - 305 km
Cathedral Rock looms over the city of Hobart off to its west in Wellington Park. Towering 880 metres, this occasionally snow-capped peak can be summitted by a challenging steep walk on a fire road. The views from the top are priceless as you can peer deep into the Huon Valley and the D'Entrecasteaux Channel region of southern Tasmania. It's here, at the top of Cathedral Rock, where you can drink in the expanse of Tasmania's verdant rolling hills and pristine waters. You'll come down the mountain, lungs full of fresh, cool air, knowing the true meaning of the Natural State. And it's a just quick 30-minute drive to the trailhead from Hobart CBD.
You can access the trailhead at the end of Betts Road past the Hobart suburb of Fern Tree. Take Davey Street (A6) out of Hobart for 9 kilometres past Fern Tree to find Betts Road. The carpark is 1 kilometre down Betts just after a stream crossing.
The drive from Hobart CBD is only 30 minutes over the span of 23 kilometres. Launceston sits 223 kilometres to the north making the drive a little more than 3 hours. Devonport, the home of the Spirit of Tasmania ferry to the mainland, is nearly a 4 hour drive sitting nearly 305 kilometres away on the north coast.
The official Cathedral Rock track shoots inland at the side of a private road for nearly half of a kilometre. It will then hug the North West Bay River through dense forest full of giant ferns. After this beautiful little stretch, you'll join up with the fire trail that ascends rather steeply up switchbacks for the next 3.5 kilometres. When the switchbacks end, you'll be at a saddle near the face of Cathedral Rock.
This is where the real challenge begins. The trail becomes even steeper up the face of Cathedral Rock before presenting you with even more challenging rocky footing. This climb is rather short but fairly difficult, but you'll be rewarded with panoramic views at the top. It's a near spiritual experience peering off into Tasmania's rugged and wild lands. After getting a lung full of cool, fresh air, it's time to come back down on the exact same trail.
This is a steep hike which requires a medium level of fitness to complete.
Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots, as the final climb takes place on a rock face that can be slippery after a rain.
Weather can change quite dramatically at elevation in Wellington Park. Always tell people of your plans to hike, pack plenty of food and water, and make sure to bring something warm that will protect you from unexpected precipitation.
Snakes have been spotted in Wellington Park and all Tasmanian snakes are venomous. Snakes are rather shy and would rather be left alone. Do not provoke them. Snakebite deaths are rare, but you should seek immediate medical attention if bitten.