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Tasmania has a list called “60 Great Short Walks,” and one of the top walks on that list is the walk around Dove Lake beneath Cradle Mountain.
We love to walk and hike but our days of strenuous walking are over for now with having young kids, which made the Dove Lake walk sound like the ideal short walk.
We were craving some exercise, and some sunny weather, as we’d been eating and drinking our way around Tassie and the weather had been very inconsistent.
In this guide, I will show you how to walk the Dove Lake circuit and share our experience doing this walk.
Where is Dove Lake?
Dove Lake is a glacially carved lake that lies beneath Cradle Mountain, a mountain in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Cradle Mountain is 1.5 hour’s drive from Devonport, or 2.5 hour’s drive from Launceston, and 4 hours and 20 minutes from Hobart. Click here for rates and availability if you need a rental car.
You can drive directly to Dove Lake by driving up Dove Lake Road inside the Dove River Conservation Area.
It’s one of the most famous destinations in Tasmania, thanks to its natural beauty and the area around having over 20 different self-guided walking tracks, ranging from 20 minutes to 9 hours.
It’s also the starting point for the world-famous Overland Track, a magnificent 6-day walk that takes you through the heart of some of the finest mountain terrain.
We’d love to come back and take on that walk when the kids are older, but for now, we’ll settle for the pleasant short Dove Lake Circuit.
Before you drive up Dove Lake Road, stop by The Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre at the National Park entrance to the park to pick up a map and further details on walks and other activities in the area. Otherwise, visit the official website for all the details.
You can park your car at the visitor center and take a shuttle bus service to the start of the trail, which runs every 10 minutes.
Top tip: wear warm clothing, it’s 939 meters above sea level so it can get cold up there.
The Dove Lake Circuit Walk, Cradle Mountain
- Distance: 6km loop trail
- Time: 2-3 hours
- Difficulty: easy to moderate, though some of the trail has short steep sections and a rocky terrain
- Terrain: natural surface
- Trailhead: The Dove Lake car park on Dove Lake Road
- Facilities: there are toilet facilities at the car park but none along the trail. There is the occasional bench for resting.
- Where to stay: We stayed in a small cabin at the nearby Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village. It’s 7k from Dove Lake.
- Check out these tips for hiking with kids.
This is a great introductory walk to the park. The start of the walk is at the Dove Lake carpark, we took the track towards the left and walked clockwise around the lake.
The Dove Lake circuit walk is a 6km track that takes you under the shadow of Cradle Mountain, through the tranquil Ballroom Forest, and back along the western shore of the lake to your starting point.
The hike is well maintained and passes by the lush vegetation of various species. You will see moss, sassafras, fagus, ancient myrtle-beech trees, and other plant species along the forest floor.
In the distance, you will see one of the walks highlight: Glacier Rock.
The aptly named Glacier Rock was formed during the last Ice Age and remains of the glacial activity can still be seen on the rock surface, where striations can be seen.
It’s said that during the Ice Age, debris in the glacier toppled down the slopes and carved out the basin of the lake. As the rocks fell, they left scratches on the rock, which have become a unique feature of the rocks in this region.
The track is a boardwalk for much of the way and has a fairly easy grade, which was awesome for us and makes it suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
It was such an easy walk that Kalyra had the breath to talk our ears off for the two-hour duration, so much so that the passers-by would comment on how chatty she was.
Which was great, when the kids are happily exploring it makes for a great family outing.
We stopped for a lunch break on one of the little sandy beaches, and a fellow walker was kind enough to take a family portrait for us.
We kept our eyes on the bushes, as we heard that some of Tasmania’s native wildlife call this place home. Wombats, echidnas, pademelon, and wallabies call this area home.
Towards the southern end of Lake Dove, you will enter a magnificent cool temperate rainforest known as the Ballroom Forest nestled against the slopes of the mountain.
One of the best stops along the walk is the most-photographed boat shed in Tasmania, on the northwestern shores of Lake Dove.
There’s a lovely sandy spot to sit and have a drink, the kids can play, and the views back over Dove Lake to Cradle Mountain are brilliant.
It is said the boat shed was built by the first Ranger of the park, Lionell Connell, out of King Billy Pine. It was used up to the 1960s but is now vacant.
They recommend it takes 2 hours. But with kids and taking tons of photos we allowed three hours. All up it was a very easy walk, with just one short moderate hill.
Your only challenge on the Dove Lake walk will be getting a sunny day!
Cradle Mountain Tours
Do you want to visit Cradle Mountain and do the Dove Lake hike but can’t get there, or want someone else to take care of the logistics?
Our preferred tour booking partner, Get Your Guide have several day tours of Cradle Mountain available. We love how you can cancel up to 24 hours in advance with GYG!
Final Thoughts on The Dove Lake Walk
What we loved about the Dove Lake walk was that we had a nice, easy walk but were still able to appreciate the beauty and magnitude of Cradle Mountain.
It was just a chance for the four of us to enjoy some of the best natural scenery in Tassie.
For anyone visiting Tasmania, the Dove Lake circuit should not be skipped off their list.
Do you have any short walks in Tasmania to recommend? Let us know in the comments.