Not so long ago, before COVID-19 brought my travels to an abrupt halt, I found myself in a little Australian mining town called Stawell. Now, Stawell was a cool place! But, I’m not gonna lie- there wasn’t a lot to do there.
It’s major redeeming feature?
Incredibly easy access to the Grampians National Park (aka the Grampians). The Grampians are absolutely stunning, and they were only 20 minutes away from where I was staying.
Huge sandstone cliffs stood proud and tall above the flats of the surrounding area; dense forest covered the ground, full of native Aussie fauna and flora. Waterfalls, rivers, and valleys (and wallabies) abounded.
The Grampians in Victoria is an outdoor paradise, and I loved exploring its many hiking trails over the few months I spent in Stawell.
Of all the Grampian National Park trails, the Pinnacle walk was one of the most famous. It was also one of my absolute favourites. Trust me, the Pinnacle hike is truly epic, and definitely not one to miss.
Are you travelling to the Grampians soon and considering the Pinnacle walk? Well, this post’s for you. Read on for a comprehensive hiker’s guide to the Pinnacle Grampians National Park walk.
(This post includes some photos from the Makepeace family @ytravelblog when they did the hike years ago!)
KEY PINNACLES WALK INFORMATION
- Distance: 2.1 to 9.6km (depending on starting point).
- Duration: 2 to 5 hours (depending on starting point).
- Difficulty: Ranges from easy to moderately difficult.
- Demographic: Anyone can do it!
PINNACLES GRAMPIANS HIKE HIGHLIGHTS
Here’s a quick rundown of why this hike is so epic, just in case you’re not yet convinced about doing it!
- Stunning nature
- Awesome Aussie wildlife (kangaroos, wallabies, cockatoos…snakes…)
- It’s accessible to everyone (thought you may have to sweeten the deal for any young’uns with these travel gifts for kids!).
- Different levels of challenge mean everyone can do it
- Epic views of the Grampians (AKA the best views in Victoria)
- You can finish with a beer (or a brew in the best French press coffee maker for travel!) in the local town, Halls Gap.
WHEN TO HIKE TO THE PINNACLES LOOKOUT
There’s no restriction on when you can do this hike. It’s open to the public all year round (except in the case of bushfires).
However, the experience will vary considerably depending on when you go. I did it in May and loved it, with bright blue skies and boundless sunshine, but without being too hot.
You can do the hike in the winter months too, but the weather is far more unpredictable. Wind, rain and low visibility are common. There’s a danger you’d miss out on the view at the top.
Mid-summer wouldn’t necessarily be ideal either. The famous Aussie temperatures would make this an exceptionally hot hike to attempt. It’d definitely still be possible, but expect a sweaty affair up the hill to the top!
Of course, you’d also have a higher chance of stumbling across a snake. If you do the Pinnacle walk Grampians in summer, keep your eyes peeled for sticks that move!
Overall, the walk’s going to be great whenever you do it. But, ideally, I suggest waiting for a fair weather day in spring/early summer if you can.
ESSENTIAL PINNACLE WALK GRAMPIANS GEAR
Nicely, hiking up to the Pinnacle Lookout isn’t overly challenging. However, there are still certain bits of gear to think about taking. It’s always worth being prepared on a hike, and the Pinnacle is no different. The following gear will make sure you manage it without issue:
Quality Hiking Shoes
Trainers or trail shoes will probably be fine for this hike (especially on the shorter routes to the top). Just make sure they have reasonable ankle support and grip on the soles. That said, I reckon wearing some proper walking shoes would be better.
I was grateful for mine, especially on some of the rockier sections of the longer route. If you’re taking the hardest route to the top, then I’d say walking shoes are the best bet.
Another footwear consideration is always snakes! The Grampians is meant to be full of them (including the deadly Brown snake) in the warmer months. Wearing heavier-duty footwear may make a difference in protecting your ankles.
Waterproof Jacket (Autumn/Winter)
Hiking the Pinnacle in winter or autumn means high winds and rain are possible. Pack a waterproof jacket just in case of showers. After all, you might be walking for a fair few hours. Being stuck in a downpour with no wind or rain proofing is never fun.
Indeed, the lookout at the top of the Pinnacle is quite exposed. You’ll be happy to have a bit of weatherproofing if conditions deteriorate up there. Sure, it’s unlikely to be an issue in summer, when the temperatures soar. But you never know! Be sure to dress and pack according to the weather.
Water and Snacks
The Pinnacles walk isn’t the longest or most difficult, however you choose to tackle it. But you’ll still need some water with you- especially in warmer weather. There aren’t any refill stations on the trail itself, either. Be sure to take enough with you to last the distance and think about taking the best water enhancers to replace those all-important electrolytes and staves off dehydration.
The same goes for food. You aren’t going to starve on a (maximum) 9.6km hike!
But let’s face it, life’s always better with snacks for the road. Take some trail food for the walk, and consider packing a picnic for the peak itself. The top of the trail makes a perfect place to stop for lunch.
The Pinnacle walk is quite exposed in places. If it’s hot, and the sun is shining, then absolutely take steps to protect yourself. Sun screen and a sun hat would both come in handy.
A Quality Camera
Make sure you take something to record the hike with as well. The view from the lookout is genuinely breath-taking. You’ll want a camera to take a few snaps when you’re there!
A selfie at the top (if you can avoid the dozens of other people up there) provides a great memento of the day.
FULL GUIDE TO HIKING THE PINNACLE GRAMPIANS NATIONAL PARK WALK
On to the guide itself! I love that there are a few ways to tackle this epic walk in the Grampians. Ranging from something relatively short and easy, up to a longer and more strenuous hike, there’s a way for almost anyone to enjoy it. I’ll go through each of them one by one to help you decide the best option for you.
1. The Pinnacle Halls Gap (Starting Point from the Caravan Park)
- Distance: 9.6km
- Duration: circa 5 hours return
- Difficulty: Moderate (reasonable fitness required)
Let’s start with the hardest option. Don’t be put off by that label though. It’s definitely the hardest route up to the lookout, but it’s far from excessive! Think: uphill most of the way, with a few more challenging inclines than the other tracks.
The track to the top gets the legs working, for sure. But it’s really not too bad. Anyone with a reasonable level of fitness should make it up without too much trouble. Having said that, young children could find it a little tough.
At 9.6km, the extra length also means you have more time in the beautiful surroundings of the Grampians. Every time I returned to the Grampians I was struck by how stunning it is. Giant cliff faces hang above dense forested areas; there are rivers to cross, rocks to climb, and waterfalls and wildlife to see…it’s genuinely incredible! You’ll want to be out there for as long as possible.
Start the 9.6km route via the Halls Gap Botanical Gardens.
This will be on your right as you enter the town (from the direction of Melbourne). Park up next to the caravan park- you can’t miss it. You should see a primary school there too. Walk past the school with it on your right hand side. Shortly after, you’ll come across a path on your right. It’s just after the tennis courts (FYI you could probably park here too).
Walk up the path for access to the botanical gardens and the start of the track. The gate to the gardens may be closed, but it isn’t locked. Simply go on through. You’ll see signs from there about where to go.
From then on it’s a matter of following the beaten path. The track’s well signposted up to the Pinnacle lookout; orange/yellow arrows literally point the way.
Highlights of the way up include:
- Splitters Falls (nothing but a trickle unless there’s been a downpour!)
- The Venus Baths
- The Grand Canyon (not quite as impressive as the one in America, but still really cool!)
- Silent Street (an awesome section of gorge)
You’ll know when you’re near the end as the number of walkers suddenly increases. They join the track from the other two routes, adding an influx of people a few kilometres from the top. It’s no big deal, but it means you’ll be competing for space at the Pinnacle itself!
When you arrive, the track leads out into an open space and the infamous lookout. You’ll gaze out over the surrounding area, with unrestricted views all the way to the horizon.
Nicely, you can get back to Halls Gap via a different path if you want. Keep the cliff edge on your right hand side and follow the yellow markers downhill. Keep following it and eventually you’ll get to a long staircase that descends right back into town.
2. Sundial Carpark Starting Point
- Distance: 2.1km
- Duration: 45 to 60 minutes (2 hour return)
- Difficulty: Easy
Moving on to the opposite end of the spectrum, and the easiest way up to the Pinnacle. The Sundial Carpark to Pinnacle hike is suitable for almost everyone- young and old alike. At 2.1km you get to the top in no time at all. Again, sturdy boots are probably better. In reality though, you aren’t going far; trainers would be fine.
Get to the carpark by taking a right turn (onto Mt Victory Road) just before Halls Gap town (approaching from Melbourne). From there, you drive another 5-6km up a long and winding road. Turn left off Mt Victory Rd onto Silverband Rd. Then, a few kilometres further, take another left onto Sundial Road. You’ll see the carpark on your left at the end of it. It’ll be obvious where the walk begins from!
Expect a great little walk through native bush and past the atmospherically-named Devil’s Gap. There’s a bit of rock-hopping and the odd water crossing too (depending on the season). When you’re happy to head back from the breath-taking views at the top, simply head back the way you came.
3. Wonderland Carpark Starting Point
- Distance: 2.1km
- Duration: 1.5 hours (3 hour return)
- Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Last but not least is a happy medium between the previous two options. Starting from Wonderland Carpark is still short and sweet. But the walk itself is a little more challenging. Even better, you hit some truly awesome sections, including the Grand Canyon, the Cool Chamber, and also Bridal Veil Falls. You also walk through the aptly named Silent Street.
This is one of the most atmospheric sections of the entire track. You find yourself in a narrow gorge, with tall rock faces on either side, and feel like you’ve descended into another world. It’s very very cool. Beyond Silent Street lies the Pinnacle itself, and the views I’ve talked about at length already.
Get to Wonderland Carpark the same way you get to Sundial: take the right turn onto Mt Victory Rd just before Halls Gap. However, this time you’ll have a left turn onto Wonderland Road after 2-3km. The carpark isn’t too much further.
Note from Caroline: We did this trail back in 2013 when Savannah was 2! It was one of our most memorable hikes on our 18 month road trip. Not just for its beauty and adventure, but it was the first hike we did with Savannah. (photo above) We were only expecting to go a little way, but her determined spirit shone through. She wanted to do the whole thing – and in bare feet. It was our first glimpse into our youngest child’s stubborn and fiery attitude. Flash forward 5 years to when she is 7 and pushing me to complete a 15 mile hike with an elevation of 4,000 feet to a glacier in North Cascades National Park!!
TIME TO Enjoy the Pinnacles Walk, Grampians
There you have it: a definitive guide to hiking the Pinnacle Grampians National Park trails.
The Grampians are an epic place to visit in Victoria and anyone nearby should make the effort to explore there. It was truly one of the greatest things I found to do in the area.
I loved hiking there on my trip around Australia, and the Pinnacle walk was undoubtedly one of the best trails I did. It’s definitely one of the better-known hikes.
People come from all over to check out the view from the top. I can thoroughly recommend it. Hopefully, the information in this post will help you make it happen.
See more incredible Australian national parks.