Crater Falls

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park / Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Tasmania, Australia

About Crater Falls


Hiking Distance: 4km round trip (to falls only); 4.6km round trip (to Crater Lake)
Suggested Time: 1.5 hours (to falls only); 2.5 hours (to Crater Lake)

Date first visited: 2006-11-27
Date last visited: 2017-11-30

Waterfall Latitude: -41.64970
Waterfall Longitude: 145.94595

Crater Falls was a series of small cascades and waterfalls where each drop was on the order of 5m to 10m tall.

However, its cumulative height could very well be on the order of more than 30m or so.

Crater_Falls_17_127_11292017 - Crater Falls
Crater Falls

Given the dense vegetation surrounding Crater Creek, we weren’t able to appreciate all of the drops of the waterfall in one view.

Instead, we experienced each small drop separately where the most impressive of the waterfalls was probably the lowermost (and first) tier.

That particular tier featured a narrow chute that plunged about 5m into some shady forest cover.

Another cascade further upstream that was of similar size but fell in multiple drops in succession (pictured above) was also just as attractive.

Crater_Falls_011_11262006 - The lowermost drop of Crater Falls
The lowermost drop of Crater Falls

The waterfall series ended with a small upper cascade above the forest cover roughly over 100m upstream from the first drop.

Crater Falls as an incidental side attraction

In my mind, Crater Falls was more of an incidental side attraction to longer hikes leading to lookouts and lakes.

On our first visit back in late November 2006, Julie and I did the 3.6km round trip hike (nearly two hours return) just to the base of the first waterfall from the Ronny Creek car park and shuttle stop.

However, it felt like a lot of work for such a tiny waterfall.

Crater_Falls_17_176_11292017 - The glacial Crater Lake fringed by knobby cliff walls was our turnaround point to our hike that also took in the Crater Falls
The glacial Crater Lake fringed by knobby cliff walls was our turnaround point to our hike that also took in the Crater Falls

We wisened up on on a second visit here in late November 2017 when we extended that same hike another 600m or so to Crater Lake.

Along the way, we experienced other aforementioned tiers of the Crater Falls as well as the glacial lake itself, which was fringed by 200m knobby cliffs.

It took Julie and I about 2.5 hours to do that longer roughly 5km return hike.

Speaking of longer excursions, we very easily could have extended our second visit into a 6km loop hike that would have included Wombat Pool and Lake Lilla.

Crater_Falls_17_165_11292017 - Looking upstream from the mouth of the tannin-stained Crater Lake
Looking upstream from the mouth of the tannin-stained Crater Lake

We even could have taken advantage of the park shuttle bus, which was included in our park admission fees, and do a three-hour one-way shuttle hike.

It would have started from Dove Lake, then climbed up to Marion’s Lookout for a top down view of Cradle Mountain with Dove Lake together.

Finally, the route would have descended via Crater Falls to the Ronny Creek trailhead.

Of course, the most famous of the hikes that included the falls was the six-day 65km Overland Track which began at the Ronny Creek Trailhead and ended at Lake St Clair (Tasmania’s deepest lake).

Crater_Falls_17_038_11292017 - While pursuing Crater Falls near Ronny Creek, we spotted a handful of wombats grazing near the boardwalk
While pursuing Crater Falls near Ronny Creek, we spotted a handful of wombats grazing near the boardwalk

This backcountry trek would have gone through some of Australia’s most pristine and rugged wilderness.

For a wordseye view of the more modest hike that Julie and I took, we’ll take you from the Ronny Creek Trailhead to Crater Lake and back.

Crater Falls Trail Description – hiking from Ronny Creek Trailhead to the waterfall

From the Ronny Creek Trailhead (see directions below), we followed along a boardwalk that more or less followed Ronny Creek through a wide open buttongrass moorland.

This terrain reminded me very much of the type of brown tussock grassland scenery we encountered while hiking in the volcanic Tongariro National Park in New Zealand’s North Island.

Crater_Falls_17_062_11292017 - Julie on the boardwalk near Ronny Creek
Julie on the boardwalk near Ronny Creek

During this boardwalk stretch, we encountered several sightings of wombats and echidnas happily grazing on the long grasses here.

Shortly after passing by a trail junction with a spur track leading up to the Waldheim Cabins, we then crossed a bridge over Ronny Creek.

At this bridge, Julie noted that the creek was fringed with low-lying trees that looked like the kind of palm trees we tended to associate with the deserts of Palm Springs or Joshua Tree in California.

Immediately after the bridge, we kept right at a trail junction (the left track was for the Lake Lilla Track and Wombat Pool), and the track started climbing in earnest.

Crater_Falls_17_067_11292017 - Julie approaching a bridge traversing Ronny Creek
Julie approaching a bridge traversing Ronny Creek

At this point, we left the grasslands and ascended into bushlands before entering the cover of forest further ahead (roughly 1.5km from the trailhead).

Amongst the shrubs in this long uphill stretch were large mats of yellow, white, and orange wildflowers that were in bloom this late in the Spring and early Summer.

Eventually at around 300m past the Horse Track junction and the start of the forest cover, we reached the lookout for the bottom of Crater Falls, where there was a rest bench as well as a viewing platform.

The track continued climbing steeply up wooden steps alongside other cascades of Crater Falls.

Crater_Falls_17_115_11292017 - Julie checking out the lowermost drop of Crater Falls
Julie checking out the lowermost drop of Crater Falls

One of the cascades was an attractive multi-tiered one fringed by large boulders that involved a short spur scramble to reach, and it was the one pictured at the top of this page.

As the track continued climbing, it eventually left the forest cover and became more semi-exposed bushlands with some higher elevation trees as it skirted by another spur track for the uppermost cascade of Crater Falls.

Crater Falls Trail Description – hiking along the falls to Crater Lake

For the remaining 600m or so, the Crater Lake Track continued to climb moderately up steps as the knobby cliffs fringing Crater Lake were getting closer.

The climb at this point felt more on the relentless side though it offered attractively expansive views back towards the Ronny Creek Trailhead way in the distance.

Crater_Falls_17_137_11292017 - The Overland Track continuing its relentless climb above Crater Falls
The Overland Track continuing its relentless climb above Crater Falls

Eventually at nearly 2.5km from the trailhead, we reached a boat shed shelter right by the mouth of Crater Lake.

This was pretty much our turnaround point though I spent some extra time exploring parts of the southwestern fringes of the calm lake.

The knobby cliffs fringing the steeper northern and eastern fringes of the lake really made the scenery here stand out.

That said though, I felt that lakes were best seen from the top down and not from near its shores.

Crater_Falls_17_169_11292017 - Looking back at the boat shed near the mouth of Crater Lake
Looking back at the boat shed near the mouth of Crater Lake

So in hindsight, I probably should have taken the extra time to keep climbing up to Marion’s Lookout.

That would have at least allowed us to look back over Crater Lake as well as look in the other direction to Dove Lake with Cradle Mountain as well as smaller lakes like Lake Wilks and Lake Lilla.

I could have even descended to the Wombat Pool and Lake Lilla to make a circuit out of the hike we just did.

In any case, we returned back the way we came in a predominantly downhill hike where we took advantage of the downhill momentum to make good time.

Crater_Falls_17_304_11292017 - Witnessing an echidna grazing in the buttongrass as we returned from Crater Falls towards the Ronny Creek Trailhead
Witnessing an echidna grazing in the buttongrass as we returned from Crater Falls towards the Ronny Creek Trailhead

Moreover, we got to watch wombats and echidnas grazing when we returned to the buttongrass moors by the trailhead.

Authorities

Crater Falls resides in Cradle Mountain National Park in Cradle Valley, Tasmania. It is administered by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Crater_Falls_17_007_11292017 - This was the walker registration booth at the Ronny Creek Trailhead, where we started our walk to Crater Falls in late November 2017
Crater_Falls_17_013_11292017 - Julie technically starting on the Overland Track even though we had no intention of going very far. We were just going to Crater Falls in late November 2017
Crater_Falls_17_016_11292017 - Julie on the boardwalk through this buttongrass moor on the way to Crater Falls and Crater Lake as seen in late November 2017
Crater_Falls_17_023_11292017 - Early on in our hike to Crater Falls, we spotted this furry wombat happily grazing near the boardwalk during our late November 2017 visit
Crater_Falls_17_048_11292017 - Julie continuing to hike along the boardwalk from Ronny Creek towards Crater Falls during our late November 2006 visit
Crater_Falls_17_237_11292017 - Looking ahead towards the knobby peaks and cliffs where Crater Lake ought to be as seen during our late November 2017 visit
Crater_Falls_17_230_11292017 - Looking towards Ronny Creek as it was fringed by buttongrass and low-lying trees looking like fan palms during our late November 2017
Crater_Falls_17_070_11292017 - Beyond the bridge over Ronny Creek, we then stayed the course at this signed fork to continue on the Overland Track towards Crater Falls as seen in late November 2017
Crater_Falls_17_080_11292017 - Julie continuing on the Overland Track as it climbed towards the forest up ahead during our late November 2017 hike
Crater_Falls_17_088_11292017 - These were the familiar pungent fruit-loops berries (as Julie called them) growing alongside the Overland Track as seen during our Crater Falls hike in late November 2017
Crater_Falls_17_091_11292017 - We spotted some of these lighter coloured berries alongside the Overland Track, too, while we pursued Crater Falls during our late November 2017 visit
Crater_Falls_17_103_11292017 - The Overland Track continued its persistent climb as we left the buttongrass behind and the vegetation turned to bushlands en route to Crater Falls in late November 2017
Crater_Falls_17_109_11292017 - Once we climbed high enough above the bushlands, we then went on this boardwalk amongst forested scenery alongside Crater Creek as seen during our late November 2017 visit
Crater_Falls_17_111_11292017 - Julie checking out the first of the Crater Falls during our visit in late November 2017
Crater_Falls_17_119_11292017 - Profile look at the first of the Crater Falls during our hike in late November 2017
Crater_Falls_17_122_11292017 - Context of the track continuing to climb past the first of the Crater Falls and beyond other intermediate waterfalls like this one as seen in late November 2017
Crater_Falls_17_130_11292017 - Eventually the Crater Lake Track climbed high enough to leave the forest cover
Crater_Falls_17_132_11292017 - Looking towards perhaps the uppermost of the cascades on Crater Falls as seen during our late November 2017 visit
Crater_Falls_17_142_11292017 - Looking down at a small lizard along the Crater Lake Track during our late November 2006 visit
Crater_Falls_17_148_11292017 - Julie continuing the hike to Crater Lake as the Overland Track was momentarily flattening out with the knobby cliffs that I knew surrounded Crater Lake were getting closer during our late November 2017 hike
Crater_Falls_17_173_11292017 - Context of the Crater Lake Track as it skirted by the shores of the lake as seen during our late November 2006 visit
Crater_Falls_17_182_11292017 - Another hiker continuing past Crater Lake and probably up to Marion's Lookout during our late November 2017 visit
Crater_Falls_17_190_11292017 - Looking back towards the mouth of Crater Lake and the boat shed during our late November 2017 hike
Crater_Falls_17_199_11292017 - Looking back towards Waldheim and the Ronny Creek Trailhead as we were headed back from Crater Lake during our late November 2017 hike
Crater_Falls_17_206_11292017 - Julie returning to the stepped boardwalk and some of the lookouts for Crater Falls as we were headed back to the trailhead on our late November 2017 visit
Crater_Falls_17_212_11292017 - Julie continuing the downhill hike through these trees and bushes on the way back from Crater Falls in late November 2017
Crater_Falls_17_222_11292017 - Back at the wide open buttongrass moorlands on our way back to the Ronny Creek Trailhead from Crater Falls during our late November 2017 hike
Crater_Falls_17_228_11292017 - Another look downstream along Ronny Creek as we passed over its footbridge again during our late November 2017 hike
Crater_Falls_17_253_11292017 - Within the wide open buttongrass moor along Ronny Creek, we saw lots of wombat happily grazing while we were playing the role of the paparazzi
Crater_Falls_17_272_11292017 - Some of the wildlife like this wombat was really close to the boardwalk when we came back to the Ronny Creek Trailhead to wrap up our late November 2017 Crater Falls and Crater Lake hike
Crater_Falls_17_290_11292017 - It seemed like more wildlife were out and about like this echidna grazing by the Ronny Creek Trailhead during our late November 2017 visit
Crater_Falls_001_11262006 - This was the Cradle Valley Road near the Ronny Creek Trailhead as seen on our first visit here in late November 2006
Crater_Falls_003_11262006 - The Crater Falls and Crater Lake Track initially followed this boardwalk from the Ronny Creek Trailhead as seen in late November 2006
Crater_Falls_004_11262006 - As the Crater Falls hike traversed this wide expanse of buttongrass moors, we noticed some mats of yellow wildflowers in bloom on our first visit back in late November 2006
Crater_Falls_005_11262006 - On our first visit back in late November 2006, the boardwalk wasn't as extensive and that same stretch of track was on this surface amongst the buttongrass moors in late November 2017
Crater_Falls_007_11262006 - Our first look at Crater Falls in late November 2006
Crater_Falls_014_11262006 - Julie checking out Crater Falls.  This was our turnaround point of the hike back on our first visit in late November 2006
Crater_Falls_016_11262006 - We noticed some interesting birds cautiously watching us as we were passing by on our return hike from Crater Falls in late November 2006

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The nearest starting point that we took for Crater Falls was from the Ronny Creek Trailhead, which was the penultimate car park before Dove Lake.

It was about 7km south of the Cradle Valley Vistor Centre or 5.3km south of the Cradle Mountain Lodge along Cradle Valley Rd in the settlement of Cradle Mountain.

Crater_Falls_17_002_11292017 - The car park at the Ronny Creek Trailhead
The car park at the Ronny Creek Trailhead

The end of Cradle Valley Rd at Dove Lake was about 2km further south of the Ronny Creek Trailhead.

Since traffic was limited by a boom just past the lodge, the park had also set up a shuttle service to get into the restricted area, where both the Dove Lake and Ronny Creek stops were located.

Since we were fortunate to have self-driven into the restricted area on both of our visits to Crater Falls, it only took us about 15 minutes to do the drive from Cradle Mountain Lodge to the Ronny Creek Trailhead.

However, the shuttle buses have an interarrival time at each stop of 20 minutes, which can be as little as 15 minutes during busy periods depending on how many buses they run.

Crater_Falls_17_310_11292017 - Looking back at the Ronny Creek Trailhead and the shuttle stop
Looking back at the Ronny Creek Trailhead and the shuttle stop

To give you some geographical context, Cradle Mountain was about 111km (over 90 minutes drive) north of Queenstown, 101km (about 75 minutes drive) south of Burnie, 78km (about 75 minutes drive) southwest of Devonport, 93km (about 90 minutes drive) west of Deloraine, 157km (about 2.5 hours drive) west of Launceston, and 319km (4 hours drive) northwest of Hobart.

Checking out the lowermost drop of the Crater Falls


Sweep following the Crater Falls downstream from one of the upper drops to a profile of the lowermost drop


Left to right back and forth sweep following the flow of water of the uppermost drops of Crater Falls before panning over to the Ronny Creek Trailhead way in the distance


Fixated on the first falls seen back in November 2006

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Tagged with: dove lake, cradle mountain, lake st clair, tasmanian wilderness, tasmania, waterfall, australia, cradle valley, overland track, ronny creek, kentish, crater lake, overland track



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