Walk the walks: Tasmania's best hikes

Andrew Bain nominates the island state's most popular routes and a few of its lesser-known gems.

The big four


Overland Track Australia's most famous bushwalk is a 65-kilometre alpine crossing from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair beneath some of the state's highest and most shapely peaks, offering the chance to scale the highest of all, 1617-metre Mount Ossa. Bookings are required to walk the track between November and April.

South Coast Track It's a beach-hopping, 85-kilometre walk along Tasmania's southern shores. It makes fatiguing crossings of the Ironbound and South Cape ranges but it's the beaches — Cox Bight, Prion Beach, South Cape Rivulet among others — that are the track's real delights. The only way in and out of Melaleuca is by air and to avoid being stranded by weather it can be best to fly into Melaleuca and walk to Cockle Creek.

Freycinet Circuit Another beach favourite, if only for the presence of ever-so-perfect Wineglass Bay. The two- to three-day circuit ascends to the popular Wineglass Bay lookout among the Hazards, then down on to the beach itself before climbing over Mount Graham to remote Cooks Beach. From here it follows the western shores of the peninsula back to its starting point.

Frenchmans Cap One of the most striking peaks in Tasmania also provides one if its most infamous stretches of walking — the so-called "sodden Loddon", where you almost need a snorkel to negotiate the Loddon valley mud. The rewards are ample, including an ascent of the seemingly impenetrable mountain with its

400-metre-high summit cliffs, before you wade back through the Loddon valley to the Lyell Highway.

The less-beaten tracks

Cape Pillar This track heads across the tops of Australia's highest sea cliffs to the tip of Tasman Peninsula for views over Tasman Island and the Southern Ocean. Along the way you can duck out to Cape Hauy for a look at the Candlestick and Totem Pole, the magnificent sea stacks famed among rock climbers.

Penguin to Cradle Instead of driving to Cradle Mountain and the start of the Overland Track, walk there, following this little-known 80-kilometre trail from the north coast at Penguin. Along the way it crosses Gunns Plains, threads through Leven Canyon and climbs to the exposed tops of Black Bluff Range.

Leeaberra Track This is an overlooked walk in the overlooked Douglas-Apsley National Park. The 28-kilometre track cuts through dry sclerophyll forest broken by waterfalls and swimming holes, with views over the east coast near Bicheno.

South West Cape This is the third in the trinity of south-west walks and the most isolated. Begin with a flight into Melaleuca then follow beaches and headlands to land's end at South West Cape. Return along the coast or loop back for an even wilder finish across the South West Cape Range.