The Dove Lake Circuit is the most popular and easily-accessible trail in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Claire National Park, Tasmania. Read this complete guide to the hike, including useful tips on how to get here and photos from Dove Lake.
A visit to Tasmania just isn’t complete without first visiting the fabled Cradle Country. This region is one of the most spectacular wilderness areas in Australia, One of the most popular ways to take in the beauty of Cradle Mountain and its alpine lakes is the short hike known as Dove Lake Circuit.
In this quick guide, I’ll detail everything you need to know about the hike, including useful tips on getting to the National Park, what to expect and photos from my recent visit.
- About the Dove Lake Circuit
- How to Get to Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain
- The Dove Lake Circuit – Hiking Guide
- Highlights on the Dove Lake Circuit Loop
- After the Dove Lake Walk – More Activities at Cradle Mountain
- Where to Stay at Cradle Mountain
- More Travel and Adventure Ideas for Tasmania
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
About the Dove Lake Circuit
The Dove Lake Circuit starts from the Dove Lake car p[ark within the Cradle Mountain - Lake St Claire National Park. The walk follows the circumference of Dove Lake, offering great vantage points over the surrounding mountains including Cradle Mountain, Hansons Peak, and of course, the beautiful Dove Lake.
How long does it take to hike the Dove Lake Circuit?
The Dove Lake Circuit is a 5.7-kilometre loop on a wide, level track. Expect around 2 hours to complete the Dove Lake Circuit hike.
How hard is the Dove Lake Circuit?
This hike is relatively flat and with only short sections of incline on sealed steps. The distance is also quite manageable for even the most leisurely of bushwalkers. However, Tasmania Parks rates the Dove Lake Circuit as a Grade 3 hike, which I don't entirely understand.
RELATED POST: Where to Stay in Tasmania
How to Get to Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain
The first step is of course getting to the Cradle Mountain - Lake St Claire National Park Visitor Centre. This park is quite remote and you'll have three options to get here. Below are links to book the three best-rated day trips (shuttles) to the Visitor Centre from various parts of Tasmania.
Otherwise, for all options check out this detailed post covering all of the options for how to get to Cradle Mountain.
- Cradle Mountain From Hobart
- Cradle Mountain From Launceston
- And Cradle Mountain From Burnie
- Private Charter option
Remember you need a Tasmanian Parks Pass to enter National Parks in Tasmania. The cost for Cradle Mountain is higher than the rest of the parks at $25 per person (24 hours) or $40 per car (up to 8 people). However, it's often more economical just to buy a Holiday or Annual Pass if you're looking to spend a bit more time in National Parks in Tassie.
Car Rentals in Tasmania
Unfortunately, the cost of bringing your own car on the Spirit of Tasmania has skyrocketed in recent years.Now, it is usually cheaper to rent a car on arrival. I recommend using DiscoverCars in Tasmania to compare rates for different vehicles across dealerships.
(Rentals are limited in Tasmania so it's a good idea to book in advance).
Visit the Parks Pass Page for more information.
The Dove Lake Circuit - Hiking Guide
- Hiking Distance: 5.7 kilometres (loop)
- Duration: 2-3 hours
- Elevation: 130 metres total elevation gain (undulating)
- Difficulty: Easy
The Dove Lake Circuit loop starts at the Dove Lake bus stop. While it is possible to drive to Dove Lake from the Visitor Centre, you're encouraged to shuttle bus from the Visitor Centre, which is free (included in your National Parks pass).
This reduced the number of cars on the already very narrow road. Just make sure to plan your trip so that you have enough time to catch the return bus. You will find updated shuttle bus itineraries at the Visitor Centre.
Once you arrive at Dove Lake, you can begin the easy, scenic circuit loop around the lake. The signs recommend that hikers walk the loop in a clockwise direction.
The Ultimate Tasmania Travel Resource
Looking for more Tasmania travel guides & adventure inspiration? Below are my most comprehensive blog posts that will serve as a great free resource for your trip.
Highlights on the Dove Lake Circuit Loop
The truth is that the Dove Lake Circuit is a very straightforward hike. Being one of the most popular walking tracks in the park, it is very well-maintained and it is impossible to get lost.
So, instead of boring you with a step-by-step, let me point out some of the highlights you might expect on the Dove Lake Circuit in Cradle Mountain!
Scenic Lake Lookout (Glacier Rock)
One of the first highlights on the track is the Glacier Rock lookout. You'll reach this spot after just 10 minutes of walking. In my opinion this spot offers one of the best vantage points of Cradle Mountain, the Boat Shed and of course, the beautiful mountain lake below.
There are also several signposts that give you a good insight into the glacial activities from the last Ice Age.
The Ballroom Forest
About halfway around Dove Lake you will enter a dense forest with boarded underfoot. This really breaks up the hike and offers a chance for great photos of native moss-covered trees.
The Boat Shed
The final highlight on the Dove Lake Circuit at Cradle Mountain is the famous Boat Shed. This quaint, wooden shed has gained popularity on Instagram but is really not much more than a little shack on the water. In saying that, the position makes it perfect to snap photographs if that's your thing.
After the Dove Lake Walk - More Activities at Cradle Mountain
There's so much more to do and see and do at Cradle Mountain. Below are some of the best-rated and unmissable activities for your next visit.
Where to Stay at Cradle Mountain
Are you looking to spend a couple of days exploring all of the awesome trails in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park? Below are two great options, check them out!
- Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village - Located right on the edge of the World Heritage Listed National Park, The Wilderness Village offers self-contained accommodation in a rainforest setting.In terms of distance to the park, this is as close as it gets. It's a 5-minute walk to the Visitor Centre and a 10-minute drive to the start of the popular Overland Track.
- Lemonthyme Wilderness Retreat - An award-winning boutique wilderness lodge with an on-site restaurant and is tucked away in a peaceful rainforest, approximately 40 minutes from the Cradle mountain National Park. This is a great retreat for travelers in Tasmania that want to get away from it all and spend some time in nature. Nearby you'll also find Bridal Veil and Champagne Falls– two of my favourite waterfalls in Tasmania.
More Travel and Adventure Ideas for Tasmania
I hope that you have enjoyed my short but useful guide to the Dove Lake Circuit track in Cradle Mountain, Tasmania. If so, make sure to check out some of my other guides too.