Views of Crater Lake from Marions Lookout
One of the many waterfalls along Crater Creek in Cradle Mountain-Lake Saint Clair National Park. Th...
Image thanks to: Sam Valtenbergs
Dove Hanson, at Cradle mountain range, Tasmania
Image thanks to: keiichihiki

Crater Lake Circuit Walk


Crater Lake Circuit Walk

Location: Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park
Length: 5 kilometres
Grade: 3 (suitable for most but some bushwalking experience recommended for rough surfaces)
Distance from: Hobart - 328 km, Launceston - 150 km, Devonport - 87 km

Crater Lake is not a crater at all. It was actually carved out by glaciers a millennia ago. And you can hike around this incredibly dark blue lake by taking the low-elevation Crater Lake Circuit Walk. This is the perfect walk when higher elevations are being bombarded by high winds and heavy rains inside Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. It's also a great secondary walk after finishing the nearby Dove Lake Circuit.

The deep blue color of this beautiful mountain lake is the result of tannins from tea tree vegetation and buttongrass leaching into the water. The darkness of the lake is perfect for reflecting clouds and snowcapped peaks which makes for a wicked social media picture.

Getting There

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is divided into two very distinct regions. The northern part of the park, where you'll find Cradle Mountain and Crater Lake, is completely separated from the southern reaches of the park where you'll find Lake St Clair at Derwent Bridge. You'll find the trailhead to the Crater Lake Circuit at the Dove Lake carpark on Road C132 in the northern half of the park.

This 2-hour return walk is quite a drive from Hobart. Having to drive north and then west, the 328-kilometer drive will bring you by Launceston and Devonport while taking 4 hours and 15 minutes. Launceston is a bit closer sitting 150 kilometers to the east which requires a 2-hour drive. Devonport, Tasmania's north coast port city, is closest. The 87-kilometer drive takes only 1.5 hours.

The Trail

You'll walk along well-signposted boardwalk past fields of buttongrass out of the Dove Lake carpark. After passing Lake Lilla and Wombat Lake, you'll ascend the side of a crater wall on a well-graded gravel track. The ascent is reasonably easy but can be steep in some sections.

At the top, you'll enter densely wet rainforest as you follow Crater Creek. You'll walk along a raised boardwalk past waterfalls covered in dense vegetation and lichen-covered boulders creating rock pools in the creek.

You'll then burst out onto the shores of Crater Lake. The dense rainforest gives way to rocky shores as you marvel at the deep blue reflective surface. Its steep walls were carved by glacial ice in a past age. You'll notice an old boathouse on the north side of the lake which is a great place to seek shelter if the weather turns bad. It also serves as a beautiful and lonesome subject for a picture.

From here, you can retrace your steps back to the carpark or you can choose to complete the circuit. To complete the circuit, walk south along the eastern side of the lake. You'll find another trail that descends the crater wall to take you back to the Dove Lake carpark. You'll find the trail about halfway down the eastern side of Crater Lake.

Crater Falls

One of the highlights of the hike is the picturesque Crater Falls. You'll find the falls in a gully dense with cool temperate rainforest vegetation. Sassafras and myrtle-beech fragrance the air in this gallery rainforest which has protected these fire-sensitive trees from fires that swept across the landscape. The vegetation here is older and you can feel it. The falls cascade down a broken cliff surface, changing directions along the way, into a crystal-clear pool of water.


You'll find toilets at the Dove Lake carpark and the park's northern gate visitors centre. You can find picnic facilities at Ronnie Creek.


Do not attempt this hike if the track is covered in snow. You may lose your way and parts of the track may prove impassable.

Weather conditions can change rather rapidly in the northern reaches of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. Always pack warm clothing that is resistant to precipitation.

No pets, firearms or bicycles are allowed on the track.

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