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Time and time again I say that the nature in Tasmania is it’s best attribute. It’s hard not to love its dense wilderness and the sheer variety of environments found within it. Occasionally it’s possible to experience this nature while driving or cruising on a boat. Most of the time though, the best way to see Tasmania at its best is with a good old fashioned walk. And it’s certainly not hard to find incredible nature walks in Tasmania, especially in the state’s north.
Just to be clear, we’re not talking about big hikes in Tasmania, where you spend hours dragging your body around mountains. These are more places where you can go bushwalking in Tasmania and enjoy the lush nature at your own pace. To show you what I mean, I’ve put together a dozen of my favourites, as a useful starting point. Quite a few below are mentioned in the iconic list of 60 Great Short Walks of Tasmania, which I’d recommend to locals and tourists alike, and many are from the northwest Tasmania as this is where I’ve spent more time. So, let’s see them, shall we?
No one should be surprised by the inclusion of Cradle Mountain when we’re talking about Tasmania walking trails. It is one of the state’s most popular attractions after all. But while so many people who visit Cradle Mountain spend their time doing its longer hikes, there are some shorter walks to be enjoyed here as well.
Both the Dove Lake and Crater Lake Circuits may not be overly taxing, but they do take a few hours to complete each. Shorter alternatives at Cradle Mountain include the boardwalk at Ronny Creek with its wombats, the Enchanted Forest Walk, and the walks to both Knyvet Falls and Pencil Pine Falls. Most of these you can just turn around when you feel like it and take under an hour.
Despite how well this natural attraction is signposted, Leven Canyon isn’t especially well-known among interstate and international visitors. This plunging canyon along the Leven River is covered in thick forest and features several trails with fantastic landscape views. Just a word of warning: don’t tackle the Canyon Floor Track if you’re after an easy walk, because it really isn’t easy.
It’s often regarded as one of the great walks of Tasmania, particularly thanks to the massive staircase that joins the paths to the Cruickshanks and Edge Lookouts. While the views are better along the top path of its loop, the lower path is submerged within giant ferns that really create a cool atmosphere. In total, the main loop should take you just under an hour if you start with the top path, because that way you go down its staircase and not up.
A nice little place that’s great for the whole family is Fern Glade Reserve. This peaceful spot is found just on the outskirts of Burnie, along the slow-moving Emu River. Fern Glade really lives up to its name, with giant ferns lining both sides of the water. The path here is very level as it follows the river, but there is a circuit you can go do that takes up to an hour. Even the short 15 minute path is nice though, especially as there’s a chance to spot platypus in the water.
Warrawee Forest Reserve
A new favourite of mine for gentle short walk in Tasmania is the peaceful Warrawee Forest Reserve. Found just outside the town of Latrobe near Devonport, this little known spot is absolutely enchanting. Warrawee is actually an emerging mountain biking destination, with a range of tracks through the bush here. However, it’s the flat and comfortable path along the banks of the Mersey River that walkers will be following.
Views along the river here feel like they’ve been pulled from a landscape painting. There’s also a decent chance of spotting some wildlife, from pademelons in the undergrowth to the occasional platypus paddling about in calm sections of the river. The basic walk takes you from the carpark over to a makeshift bridge and back, and generally takes about 30-40 minutes return.
Those who visit Launceston are unlikely to miss Cataract Gorge, as it’s one of the city’s most popular attractions. While it has a Victorian garden and a swimming pool, I do think the nicest thing to do there is go for a wander. The gorge sits along the South Esk River and features some decent cliffs surrounded by plenty of nature.
Because of just how close it is to the centre of town, it may seem strange to call it a day trip from Launceston, but there’s enough walks here to keep you plenty busy. Many start with the Zig Zag Trail that takes you from the First Basin towards the city, but there are also walks to Eagles Eyrie Lookout and Sentinel Lookout that are steeper/longer respectively.
Narawntapu National Park
It wasn’t until my second visit to Narawntapu National Park that I really appreciated how interesting a place this is. The national park sits along the coast between Devonport and the Tamar Valley, and offers a combination of beach and wetlands. Visitors have a choice of paths, from the gentle walk out to the bird hide on the water, to trails that take you to its wide-open beach.
The real selling point of going to Narawntapu National Park is the wildlife though. Here there are loads of pademelons in the undergrowth, plus kangaroos, wallabies, snakes and birds. There are also some longer walks too that I’ve yet to do, such as the walk up to Archers Knob. As for hikes, the journey from Narawntapu all the way to Badger Beach Lookout looks like a real challenge that I hope to complete one day.
Quite similar to Leven Canyon and found much closer to Deloraine and Launceston is the scenic Alum Cliffs. Well-maintained forest trails take you from its rural carpark up onto its lofty cliffs, where you can enjoy an impressive views of the Mersey River and hillside. Unfortunately, you only get a side-on view of the cliffs from its main viewpoint, but the walk is still worth it. There’s even a chance to spot birds of prey here if you’re lucky. A return walk to the cliffs and back takes less than an hour and is easy despite a slight incline.
It may be one of the shortest walks on this list, but the forest trail to the Trowutta Arch definitely is not to be missed. The Trowutta Arch is a remarkable stone archway that has oversized ferns on one side of it and a series of collapsed caves on the other. Getting down to this attraction in the Trowutta Caves State Reserve probably only takes 15-20 minutes at a gentle pace, but there’s some fun clambering around to be had behind the arch if you’re feeling adventurous. To me though it’s the giant ferns that you so often find around the island that cements this as one of the most enjoyable short Tasmania walks.
When exploring the central area of Tasmania’s north, there’s one landmark that’s almost always within view – Mount Roland. While tackling Mount Roland involves a seriously steep hike, there is a gentler alternative over at Round Mountain. This lookout point at the western end of Mount Roland has a wonderful panorama that most stop here for.
However, there are also a handful of gentle trails that lead from Round Mountain over towards the rest of Mount Roland. The trails do involve quite a lot of uphill walking towards Mount Claude, but it’s nowhere near the difficulty of the full trek up Mount Roland. This may be one of the tougher walks on this list, but the views are definitely worth it.
Another of the great walks in Tasmania not to miss is the highland trail to the cliffs at Devil’s Gullet. The remote location of this spot at the northern edge of the Central Highlands means few find their way here. But those that do are in for a memorable time, as you pass through a forest of burnt trees to reach its viewpoint. The track here has a few stairs but is not too challenging, with plenty of scenery to distract you along the way. Any doubts about this walk will fade once you reach the eroded cliffs of Devil’s Gullet, because there’s nowhere else quite like it that I’ve seen in Tasmania.
Many of the best waterfalls in north Tasmania require at least a short walk to reach, but I think the most enjoyable waterfall walk is at Halls Falls. Sitting close to the east coast and the Bay of Fires, this secluded spot is bursting with natural beauty. The rainforest walk down to the waterfalls sits a little off the Great Eastern Drive and first brings you to a viewpoint over the falls.
Most of the time the path is comfortably flat except for when it descends to the bottom of the falls. There’s something about the remoteness of this walk that makes it feel special. Of course, there’s also the reward of waterfalls at the end. All told I think the walk is roughly an hour, but that can easily draw out once you spend time above and below Halls Falls.
Finally we have a walk that I came across completely by accident during a recent trip along the Cradle Coast. Table Cape is one of many interesting coastal destinations between Burnie and Stanley, best known for its historic lighthouse. When I went to visit the Table Cape Lighthouse I noticed a path and gate off to the right of the lighthouse. It turns out this trail takes you along the clifftop coastline over to the sweeping panorama of the Table Cape Lookout.
The walk from the lighthouse to the lookout is just under one kilometre in each direction. I had planned to drive between the two originally, but found the undulating trail a more enjoyable alternative. What’s nice is that you get a nice mix of coastal views, rural countryside and a bit of bush along the trail here. It’s a change of pace from the many forest and waterfall tracks I’ve mentioned.
Do you prefer easy nature walks or more serious hikes when you travel? What are you favourite walks in Tasmania, either up north or anywhere on the island? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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