Hiking Mt Field Tasmania
Mt Field is one of the most visited National Parks in Tasmania. With it’s close proximity to Hobart, plenty of short walks and famous Russel Falls, this probably surprises no one. But what may come as more of a shock is that last large majority doesn’t even bother to drive up to the top, let alone do any of the hikes.
Which is lucky for us, since it means beautiful open views without the crowds.
Mt Field Tasmania – Tarn Shelf Circuit
Official Trail Name: Tarn Shelf Circuit
Location: Mt Field National Park
Distance: Approximately 12.5km return
Approx. Time: 5 to 6 hours return
Trail Type: Circuit
Mostly well-formed tracks and duckboards with small sections of small loose boulders and roots.
Highest point: Approximately 1250m at Rodway Ski Tow
Elevation gain: Approximately 400m
Permit needed: A Tasmanian Parks Pass is needed. You can purchase Parks Passes at the visitors center at the bottom of Mt Field. There are short term and Mt Field only passes available as well if you’re not local and don’t want to fork up the yearly fee.
One of the easier longer hikes in Mt Field, Tarn Shelf Circuit is a good place to start if you’re only just getting to know the Park. It starts at Lake Dobson car park and takes you along the Tarn Shelf, Lake Newdegate and Lake Webster with optional side trips to Lake Seal and Platypus Tarn.
From the car park, we headed towards the ski tows taking us through a short section of lush Pandani forest and a steep climb up a dirt road (only accessible to permit holders).
From there the trail quickly takes you along the best views on the hike before reaching Rodway Tow.
The trail continues past Rodway Tow on a well-formed track towards the junction with K Col Track. On this section of trail, you’ll find lots of tiny signs with black Xs on it. They mark sections of the old track that are in the process of re-vegetating so please stay clear. Sometimes they are accompanied by a new route marked with orange arrows, but a lot of times you’ll need to think for yourself and walk on sustainable surfaces only (eg. rocks, boulder, etc.).
You keep hopping from tarn to tarn until the K Col Junction where you’ll find a little hut. Before you get any ideas of camping out, it’s an emergency shelter only. Plus, local wildlife seems to like it as a toilet facility. Yum…
Next up is Lake Newdegate Track which is fairly easy and flat to the next hut the track. This one is actually quite nice with a tiny museum inside of artifacts and photos of Mt Field’s Victorian skiing days. Apparently, people used to take the train to the base of Mt Field, hike all the way up it, get all dressed up and go skiing or skating on the tarns while listening to gramophones. Can you imagine hauling your butt all the way up here in a dress, with a nicer dress strapped to your back with skies and gramophone? Badass, ladies! I hope they had a mule.
Despite the cozy looking bunks,
sorry guys… Still no camping.
From here on the trail is a wee bit of a snore and feels very long after already having hauled your butt all this way. But at least the trails are well-formed, a few sections with loose rocks aside, and a bit more shaded.
Note: We hiked the trail clockwise. But now that I’ve done it, I highly recommend going counter-clockwise. All the nice views and sights are in the first half of the trail, making the section along Lake Webster Track feel very long and a little boring.
Mt Field Tasmania – How to get there
From Hobart, take the Lyell Highway to New Norfolk. Once there turn onto Glenora Road which later on naturally flows into the Gordon River Road. In the town of Westerway, the Gordon River Road turns to the left. Keep following it until you see Lake Dobson Road on your right. Cross the train tracks and pull over in the carpark to collect your key at the visitor’s center. After that, drive up Lake Dobson Road all the way to the end.
Mt Field Tasmania – About the National Park
Nearest ranger station: The Park Office is located at the base of the mountain. You can register your walk here and you can ask at the counter what the view is like at the top or check yourself before leaving with the Mt Mawson Tow Snow Cam.
Activities: Other than hiking, you can go skiing and snowshoeing in winter providing there’s snow. During a very, very cold winter, you might be able to do some ice-skating on the tarns.
Where to get a map: You can get a TasMap topo map for Mt Field National Park at the park office, visitor centers, most outdoor stores, and Service Tasmania Offices.
Wildlife: We saw plenty of evidence of wombats and spotted some pademelons and possums at the Government Huts. We also saw a couple of snakes, which quickly went away after spotting us. But if you’re worried about that kind of thing, you might want to wear some gaiters.
Mt Field Tasmania – What’s near?
Nearest Accommodation: We highly recommend staying at the Government Huts if you get the chance. Otherwise, there’s a pretty good campground at the Park Visitors Center.
Post Hike Hangout: There are plenty of picnic and barbecue areas around the Visitors Center. Inside you can score a meal, coffee, pastries, and ice cream.
Wherever you go in nature, please make sure to stick to the Leave No Trace Seven Principals to keep this place as beautiful for the next generations as it is now.