Dove Lake Circuit with Kids
Can you do the Dove Lake Circuit with kids? Some families skip the 6km Dove Lake Circuit if visiting with young kids. However, you really don’t need to!
The majority of the walk is fairly flat except for one section about three quarters of the way around. We managed this walk easily with a two year old and a four year old.
I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but I’m on a bit of a mission at the moment to prove that hiking can be fun with young kids.
Tasmania’s list of 60 Great Short Walks has made this mission very easy to achieve. We completed five of these walks when travelling around Tasmania and enjoyed every single one of them!
Completing the Dove Lake Circuit with kids is an absolute highlight of a trip to Tasmania. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful and much like the Apsley River Water Hole and Gorge Walk we did a few days earlier, the kids really gave this one a go themselves.
Visiting at the beginning of Spring, there was still plenty of snow on the well built boardwalk and track. This only added to the excitement of the walk for the kids.
Mr Four, having never experienced snow before was really keen to do this one himself and managed about 4km of the walk before hopping in a carrier (see my post on baby and toddler carriers for what we use).
Miss Two was bribed with nutrigrain to hop in the carrier so we could all walk a little faster. Although she enjoyed it, she was just too slow over the snow! She promptly fell asleep and woke up for the last 2km which she did with assistance.
What to expect on the Dove Lake Circuit with kids
Name: Dove Lake Circuit Walk (#29 of Tasmania’s 60 Great Walks)
Location: Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Distance: 6 km circuit that is best walked clockwise
Classification: Level 3
Time: 2 – 3 hours return
Notes: The information above is taken from the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Services website. This walk took us a bit longer at 3.5 hours.
The walk wasn’t difficult, but it was slow going due to the snow on the tracks. We also walked at the pace of a four year old for the majority of the walk and stopped a couple of times for snacks, drinks and photographs.
Lets get started!
The circuit walk sets out from the Dove Lake Carpark. There are toilets here so make sure you go now as its the only opportunity until you get back.
Walking downhill towards Dove Lake, you will come to a sign that signals the start of the clockwise circuit.
TIP – If you are not feeling up to the whole circuit, you can head anti-clockwise for ten minutes which will take you to the iconic boat shed.
Highlight – Glacier Rock
After around ten minutes, you will come to Glacier Rock; a great little lookout that gives you a taste of the fantastic views around the lake. Young kids need to be in a carrier or within arms reach if you step out onto Glacier Rock.
The track is fairly flat and the sturdy boardwalk weaves in and around the beautiful natural setting. It’s hard to get bored on this walk as the scenery is just so pretty!
Highlight – Cradle Mountain Views
The far shores of Dove Lake has you walking beneath the towering spires of Cradle Mountain. Even in questionable weather (overcast and randomly drizzly when we visited), the combination of sky, mountain and lake is really something special to see.
Highlight – The Ballroom Forest
As you pass the halfway point, you will come to an absolutely stunning surprise patch of rain forest called The Ballroom Forest. The track winds snake like through ancient gnarled moss, lichen covered trees and over a small mountain creek.
Up until this point, the walk has been fairly flat. There are now some steep and narrow stairs leading to a boardwalk that follow alongside the lake from a much higher vantage point.
Although not too difficult, the stairs are probably the hardest section of the walk.
Even when the boardwalk changes to a dirt and rock walking path, it is impossible to lose your way. The track is extremely well constructed and easy to follow. Soon the iconic boat shed comes into view; another highlight of the Dove Lake Circuit.
Highlight – The Old Boat Shed
The boat shed has a lovely clear water shoreline and I dare say its probably hard to take a bad photo of it. It’s that picturesque!
A further ten minutes walk past the boat shed will see you completing the circuit and arriving back at the carpark.
The wildlife is abundant in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Its quite common to spot Bennets wallabies, pademelons and wombats.
Platypus and echidna can also be found in the area although we didn’t spot any on this particular day.
HOW TO GET THERE:
The Dove Lake Circuit is located at Dove Lake in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
The best way to get down to Dove Lake is to utilise the Cradle Shuttle Service from the Visitor Centre at the entrance to the park. This is included when you purchase your national parks pass for the area.
The shuttles run regularly and you can hop on and off at key points along the way. There is plenty of wombat spotting from the shuttle bus window on the drive down to Dove Lake.
If you would rather join an organised tour than drive yourself to the Cradle Mountain/Dove Lake area; check out some of the options below:
WHERE TO STAY:
We left it too late to book accommodation close to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and ended up staying at Mole Creek Caravan Park for a few nights. This meant we had to drive 90 minutes each way to visit Dove Lake.
Closer accommodation options include:
A National Park entrance fee is required to visit the the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
You can buy a single day pass or if you are exploring more of Tasmania, an 8 weeks pass which gets a whole family into all of Tasmania’s National Parks is better value for money.
Passes can be purchased online here.
Visiting With Kids
Dove Lake is fantastic for visiting with kids. The wildlife spotting, boardwalk and scenery is enough to keep the boredom away.
You know your own and your kids limits (although our kids often surprise us) so don’t be swayed by other people’s opinions about whether it’s achievable with kids. I figured the worst case scenario is that I would get extra exercise if I had to carry them the majority of the way.
If you come prepared with snacks and drinks for the kids, you will have a memorable time completing this circuit.
Young kids will need to be supervised closely as per normal of course. However, because the majority of the walk is fairly flat; there is quite a bit they can do themselves with parents hovering behind.
My kids loved the opportunity to walk on the snow covered boardwalk. Making snowballs and throwing them at dad kept Mr Four occupied for the majority of this walk.
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