Quite simply, this bushwalk up the Needles is not only one of the best Hobart day walks, but one the best hikes in Tasmania full-stop! If you love hiking Tasmania then you’ve got to put the Needles on your bushwalking ‘to do’ list – just don’t tell anyone, ok? 😀
Getting to The Needles hike in Tasmania
Three days in the rugged south west of Tasmania? Yes please!!
It was a very belated birthday present for Karen, but we really wanted to turn it into a three day weekend. So over the Queen’s birthday weekend we made our way up to Strathgordon for a few days full of wood fires, sightseeing (through the fog!) and bushwalking.
As we had some very average weather during our time away, we weren’t able to squeeze in as many long walks as we would have liked. Thankfully on our last day the sun broke through the clouds, so on our return to Hobart we thought we’d give the hike up the Needles a crack.
We made our way there from Strathgordon, but it would be just as easy to drive up from Hobart and finish this off in a day quite easily.
To get there, just follow the Glenora Road up the western bank of the Derwent River, or the Lyell Highway up the eastern bank, through Bushy Park and turning left at the gorgeous little town of Westerway towards Mt Field and Maydena. It will probably take around 1hr 15mins to cover the 80kms to Maydena from Hobart.
The start of the hike is located near the car park at the top of the mountain range, about 15 minutes drive to the west of Maydena. There’s a big sign there telling you that at 651m it’s the “Highest point on road”.
Hiking Tasmania – How to walk up the Needles
1. Making sure you lock up your vehicle, walk down the hill towards the sign looking for a small rock cairn on the left hand side of the road.
2. Leave the road at the cairn, following the fire trail that lies just behind the trees.
3. Keep an eye on the right-hand side of the fire trail, because the turn-off isn’t all that obvious. Pink ribbons are the give away that you’re at the right spot. It should only take a few minutes to walk to this point after leaving the road.
4. Only a few metres into the scrub and you’ll pass the walker registration box. To be honest we didn’t use it. It’s only a relatively short walk and the weather conditions were perfect.
Some of the graffiti scrawled on the box made for interesting reading…
- Machine porn – “I love chainsaws“
- Political commentary – “Good riddance Paul Lennon“
- Public health message – “Scabies“
- Religious commentary – “Shitchrist“
All quite charming, putting a smile on our faces as we commenced the bushwalk proper!
5. It had been raining for the last few days so the path at this stage was very wet and muddy in parts (ankle/shin deep at its worst). You definitely want to be wearing waterproof boots 😀
The trail initially passes through some fairly thick bush, but the higher you go the more open it becomes. While the trail is quite steep, it is well-formed and offers plenty of small, natural steps to help you ascend.
After about 20-30mins the trail levels out as you get up close and personal with one of the massive boulders that give this ridge line the name “The Needles”.
6. For the next 20 minutes or so the trail slowly rises, leading you up through more of the jagged rocks on either side, towards the large peak in the distance. Along this section there is very little vegetation above knee height, and the path remained wet in places. Looking back we were greeted by an awesome view of the massive rocks, with Tim Shea in the background and Mt Field West on the horizon. Absolutely stunning!
7. The last section of the hike is a short (5-10mins) but steep scramble up the tallest peak of them all. Standing at around 980m high, The Needles is very impressive!
From the summit you get incredible 360 degree views from lakes Pedder and Gordon in the west, to Tim Shea and Mt Field West to the north east, Mt Mueller and Mt Anne to the south, and Mt Wedge to the south west.
An interesting thought occurred to us while surveying the terrain to the west. The previous day we had completed a short hike into the Florentine rainforest along the Timbs Track in some extremely damp and misty conditions (click here for our hiking notes for the Timbs Track), with the walk terminating at a lookout along an exposed ridgeline.
At the time we were struggling to get our bearings in the swirling mist, but every once in a while this massive jagged peak would emerge from the darkness, but we couldn’t work out which one it was. We thought it was Wyld’s Craig, but after climbing The Needles we realised that we were actually standing at the top of that very peak we’d been looking up at the previous day!
We’ve placed an arrow showing the location of the lookout on the photo below to give this some perspective.
After taking a copious amount of photos and spending some relaxing time just soaking in the views with a cup of hot miso soup in hand, we reluctantly made our way back down the ridge.
Our final thoughts on this walk up The Needles?
This was an awesome little walk, taking only about 2-2.5hrs all up. As mentioned above, it is quite steep so keep this in mind if you’re limited physically in any way. To be honest you could quite easily stop half-way up as well, making this a 1hr return hike, but the views obviously aren’t anywhere near as good as if you do the full hike.
Considering how close this is to Hobart, you could easily drive up here in the morning, complete the walk (having lunch at the peak), and then return to the car in plenty of time to be back in Hobart by dinner time.
One thing to be aware of is the propensity for the Tasmanian weather to change at any time, extremely rapidly! The Needles is a series of high and very exposed peaks that can suffer the full brunt of the southerly weather systems that scour this part of the State. So make sure you check the weather forecast, take sufficient layers of warm clothing, and perhaps a snack or hot drink to keep the energy levels up!
Reward-to-effort ratio = 10/10
Leech count = 0
Snake count = 0
Quite simply, this is not only one of the best Hobart day walks, but one the best hikes in Tasmania full-stop! If you love hiking Tasmania then you’ve got to put the Needles on your bushwalking ‘to do’ list 😀
Are you looking for other Tasmanian walks like the Needles? Check out these three sensational options:
- Mt Wellington Walk – This loop walk takes you past the soaring ‘Organ Pipes’, up the Zig-Zag track for some of the best views of Hobart, onto the iconic summit and then back down again. It’s another awesome Tasmanian short walk.
- Cape Hauy – Stand on top some of the tallest sea cliffs in the world and admire the sweeping coastal views from Cape Hauy. Anyone visiting and hiking Tasmania has got to experience this amazing walk.
- Mt Maria – If you’ve got a few days up your sleeve and want to escape the rat-race – take the ferry to Maria Island and spend a day saying g’day to wombats and walking up Mt Maria. The views from the top are incredible! <– If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a great hike to ‘Bishop and Clerk‘ on Maria Island!
Happy hiking folks!
Andrew and Karen.