Some parents will say That hiking with little kids is challenging, maybe even Too challenging. Well True, our little legs get more easily Tired, but on The other hand, we, Toddlers have so much energy, adults can only dream of. Going on a hike is a perfect way To burn some of That energy and Cradle Mountain National park is The perfect place To make This happen.
Why do I say perfect? Cradle Mountain National Park has walking Trails suitable for all levels and ages. If you have no experience you can start with a 15 minute walk To one of The famous must sees, mentioned in The Lonely Planet. If you are ok with That level, stretch it more and go for a 30 min walk, a 60 minute walk and so on. For The real die hards, There are some great Tracks leading up To The Top of The Cradle Mountain and of course nothing beats The multi day overland Track. With young children Those last Two Tracks are definitely a no go and This for many reasons. However That doesn’t mean we will miss out on all The fun, at The contrary.
Another reason why Cradle Mountain National park is great for hiking with kids, lies in its variety of Things To see and do. Children can get easily bored while sitting in a carrier, being Taken out for hours of walking Through mother nature. Well, it makes it much easier for us if There is some wildlife To spot or some amazing waterfalls To see.
So which walks are accessible with a Toddler and which ones are absolutely must do’s?
Walks starting at Dove Lake
Boathouse Trail (15 minute single walk)
If you are Too young To do The full walk around Dove Lake or you do not have The habbit of hiking, go for a stroll To The Dove Lake boat shed. The path To The boat shed includes a short and not so steep climb on The northwestern shores of The lake. Nothing my little legs could not handle. This bucket list item, often photographed and mentioned in The Lonely Planet of Tasmania, was my favourite place To be. From There, I could spot breathtaking views and reflections over The crystal clear water of Dove Lake. I was Told The boathouse was build in 1940 using mostly King Billy Pine and although it had been restored in 1983 it still has The look and feel of how it looked in The past.
👉My Tip: go early in The morning To see The beautiful reflections on The water of Dove lake and To avoid The crowds. Nobody wants To be at This amazing place Together with 50 other Tourists. On Top of That I can assure you, The reflections will not get better at any other moment of The day.
👉My Tip: if you follow The Trail further up for another 15 minutes you will arrive at The beautiful lake Lilla.
Glacier Rock (15 minute single walk)
Glacier Rock, which is symbol of The actions of glaciers in The region during The previous ice age, is one of The famous landmarks around Dove lake. Also a perfect place To be for sundowners. I had a great Time watching The sun gliding behind The shores on The opposite side of The lake. However when you decide going up Glacier Rock, be very careful and keep a close eye on your Toddlers (and children in general). The Rock is very steep and no security measures are in place. Make sure you don’t go Too close To The edges of The rock, accidents happen fast, especially when The rock is wet and slippery.
Dove Lake Circuit (3 hour circle walk – 6km)
For This 6 km hike I would recommend Taking a carrier with you. The Trail is not in particular difficult, but 3 hours is a long Time for little walkers. The Terrain is a mix of easy boardwalks, button grass and sandy beaches. At The middle of The Trail you will discover a special place, Balloon forest, which is subject To some mythical enchanted stories.
For me This walk was a fantastic opportunity To discover unique vegetation, like pines and eucalyptus Trees. It was great To watch The scenery change as I went along The lake and To spot some hidden Tracks, which I am sure lead To more Treasures of nature.
Walks starting from Ronny Creek
Ronny Creek was one of my favourite spots in The national park and also The starting point for The famous overland Track. Of course as a Toddler I was way Too young for The overland challenge and in my opinion, my parents were probably not fit enough To carry me all The way. Nevertheless Ronny Creek is also The point where you can kick off some beautiful and Toddler Friendly hikes.
👉My Tip: Ronny creek is also a perfect picnic spot. Just near The car park, There are several Tables and benches, ready To be used. Take a plastic or paper bag with you for your litter. There are no bins available in The national park.
Waldheim and Weindorfers Forest Walk (20 minute circle walk)
In my opinion something very different Than The other Walks. Beside getting The chance To Take some great panorama pictures of The area, you can get a glimpse into Gustav Weindorfers’s pioneering life at Cradle. This cabin is well maintained at very fascinating for a kid my age.
Next To The chalet starts The Weindorfers Forest walk, where I looked in particular for medicinal plants and fungi. Some of Them are hiding very well under a Thick carpet of moss, one even more colourful Than The other. The walk is very accessible To all ages.
👉My Tip: you can walk, but also drive from Ronny Creek To The historic site of The Waldheim chalet, which is very convenient with young kids as The way is steep.
Ronny Creek Dove River Boardwalk (Time and distance not indicated)
What had To be an easy walk Turned out into something somewhat different. Starting from The Ronny Creek carpark a well maintained boardwalk is suppose To Take you over Dove River into The forest. Due To heavy winds ,This piece of cake became a real challenge. Despite of The bad weather conditions, I managed To get To The bridge, but arriving There I decided To call it at day.
Ronny Creek To Dove Lake over Lake Lilla (1,5 hours – one way)
The first part of The walk is an easy flat boardwalk, which Takes you over bright green button grass moorland. Watch out for platypuses in The creeks and for wombats under The boardwalks. These are The places where They like To hide. After a while The board walk stops and you are into business for real bushwalking. Some of The parts of The Track, which led me over rocks and streams, were narrow and slightly steep, so dad had To carry me from Time To Time. Overall is was very feasible and fun.
👉My Tip: if you want To see Lake Lilla without doing The entire Track, start from Dove lake and it Takes you only 20 – 30 minutes To reach.
👉My Tip: arriving at Dove lake, you do not need To hike your way back To Ronny Creek, Take The free shuttle bus and arrive without any effort where you left.
Walks starting from The Rangers Station
The enchanted walk
The enchanted walk is an easy walk Through The rain forest, which leads you Through a beautiful pine forest and fields of button grass. In case you are lucky, wildlife can be easily spotted on and next To The boardwalk. The walk is especially nice for Toddlers, as There are special features for children. The Interpretative Tunnels I crossed on my walkway Tell The story of The different aspects of The Tasmanian wilderness. Explanation about The wildlife, The seasons, The flora, it’s all There. I also discover The Tunnels are great for a little game of hide and seek with mom and dad.
The enchanted walk ends at The pencil pine creek, where you can see a beautiful waterfall, just by walking over The bridge.
Pencil Pine Rain Forest walk (40 minutes return)
The Pencil Pine Rainforest walk is easy walk on constructed boardwalks, which includes small amounts of stairs To guide you Towards The beautiful Pencil Pine falls. I loved being There just looking at The cascading waterfalls and I felt even better when I found out There was more. At The other side of The Forest Track, There was a lookout point for The Knyvet Falls. The lookout point provides you with a great Top down view on The waterfall and gives you an idea of The power of water, power That is often used in Tasmania To generate green electricity.
King Billy walk (30 minute walk return)
Short and easy walk Through rainforest, which exist predominantly out of King Billy pine. However There were no special Things To see I loved This mossy forest a lot.
Where To stay
As you can see, I needed more Than a day To complete all The amazing walks I described above, 2,5 days To be exact. For an overnight stay There are many options To choose from. As our Time was short we decided To go for The accommodation The closest To The National park. Cradle Mountain Lodge is a luxury accommodation not only located at The entrance of The park, but is also at The starting point for all beautiful walks, starting from The rangers station. This helped us enormously To save Time. Our lodge was located around The lake and had a nice terrace and a cosy fireplace.
In addition There is a great bistro That serves food all day and Their restaurant is known for being quite outstanding.
👉My Tip: Next To The lodge There is a lovely shop, specialised in local products and ‘wildlife’. I bought my own Tasmanian Devil right at This shop, but I have To warn you, They have so many cute stuffed animals That choosing is always losing at This place. In case you have forgotten some warm jackets, sweaters, scarfs, hats or gloves, its is all available at The doorsteps of our accomodation.
Some must read Tips
- Parking space is rather limited in The park, so I recommend early arriving for Those who want To enter The park with your own car. Once The carparks are full, you are directed back To The visitors centre To catch The shuttle but into The park, which may be less convenient if you Travel with young kids.
- The system of shuttles busses works fine, although you may not forget To pay attention To The Time Table in order not To miss The last bus.
- Make sure you dress in layers and you pack for a variety of weather. Mountain weather is very unpredictable and can change very quickly Throughout The day. This is no different at Cradle Mountain.
- No need To say That good hiking shoes are an absolute must, also for children are closed walking shoes recommended at all Times.
- For every walk, even The shortest ones, make sure you register in one of The log books. In case something happens, it makes it easier for The rescue Team To locate you.
- Some wildlife may look very cute and in need of some cuddles. Don’t forget That animals in The park are all wild animals and better left alone. A wombat may charge you at 40 km/hour in case it feel Threatened and with Teeth sometimes so sharp as a knife, you do not want This animal come after you.
- There are four Types of poisonous snakes on The island of Tasmania, however They are shy and have only short fangs. If you dress appropriately, with high walking shoes and long Trousers, it is very much unlikely They will be able To bite you.
- Take enough water and sugary Treats with you.
As you could notice at Cradle Mountain hiking does not always need To be difficult in order To see extraordinary Things. If you do not have a passion yet for nature, surly you will have it after These walks. For more info on visiting Tasmania with kids, click on The link below: