Penguin Cradle Trail

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Introduction

While walking tracks cover much of Tasmania, there was always a gap between the major national parks and the northern coast. To fill this gap the North West Walking Club, marked a walking track from the seaside town of Penguin to the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park. This is known as the Penguin Cradle Trail.

This runs for 76 km and primarily follows the valley of the Leven River to near its source then follows the crest of the Black Bluff Range to the Cradle Mountain area. It can be combined with the Overland Track into an excellent 2 week walk.

The track is not well known with visitors. The most spectacular section of it, is where it passes through the Leven Canyon - this has scenery as good as anywhere else in the state. In the north, parts of the track are often obscured by bracken and fallen trees. Experienced walkers will have little trouble following it but do not expect the well marked track and regular signposts that are seen on the Overland Track.

Location & Access

The northern end starts at Penguin. This is a small seaside town about half way between Devonport and Burnie on the northern coast of Tasmania. It is easily accessed several times daily by bus services that run from Devonport to Burnie.

The southern end of the track is at the Cradle Mountain Lodge which is located beside the northern border of the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park. This is accessed by regular daily bus services from Devonport and Queenstown on most days of the year.

Track Notes & Maps

The North West Walking Club publishes a brief 11 page guide to the track and it can be downloaded free from the web. Full track notes along with 1:50,000 colour topographic maps are in the new edition of our Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair guide.

The best maps are the TASMAP 1:25,000 Ulverstone, Kindred, Riana, Loyatea, Lea, Pencil Pine. The track is shown only on the most recent editions of some of these maps. Alternatively the TASMAP 1:100,000 Forth, Hellyer and Sophia cover the track but they lack detail and are not recommended.

Suggested Itinerary

1 Bus to Penguin, walk to Hardstaff Creek, 10km, 3.5 hours
2 To Wings Farm Park or Hobbs Bridge, 10km, 5 hours
3 Across Gunns Plains to Blackwood Camp, 17.5km, 6.5 hours
4 Through Leven Canyon to Loongana, 7km, 7 hours
5 Climb to Paddys Lake, 9km, 4.5 hours
6 To Bare Mountain Camp, 9km, 4.5 hours
7 To Fourways Camp, 11km, 4 hours
8
To Cradle Mountain Lodge, 8km, 3.5 hours

Day 6 and 7 are often combined into one long day to avoid camping at Bare Mountain Camp because it has minimal shelter. Another extra day can be added for a long sidetrip to Reynolds Falls.

Permits

None are needed for walking the trail. The trail passes through state forests and ends at the boundary of the World heritage Area.

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Photographs and text are copyright 1999-2015 John Chapman.
Last updated : December 8th 2015