Tracks & Trails

Guthega to Charlotte Pass
Tracks & Trails | bushwalking | hiking | Kosciuszko National Park | New South Wales

Guthega to Charlotte Pass

The alpine roof of Australia

by Susie Baber  |  31 December 2022

9km | Moderate| 3 hours (plus an extra 2km to explore ruins)

Guthega to Charlotte Pass is just one section of the new, multi-day Snowies Alpine Walk in the stunning Kosciuszko National Park. When completed the walk will include 55km of hiking trails taking in some of the most beautiful scenery in the NSW alpine area.

There will be four main sections; Guthega to Charlotte Pass – 9km; Charlotte Pass / Main Range Track – 22 kilometres; Charlotte Pass to Perisher Village – 13 kilometres; Perisher Village to Bullocks Flat, including a 700m vertical descent – 11 kilometres (under construction, expected completion late 2023)

You can do the walk in either direction and both options have their own appeal. Starting from Charlotte Pass the walk is downhill, well up and down – but a bit more down than up. You will descend from 1840m above sea level at Charlotte Pass down to 1640m at Guthega. Heading in the other direction, while a little more challenging vertically, offers spectacular views of some of Kosciuszko’s highest peaks laid out before you.

We chose to start from Guthega where the first section follows the Illawong Track to Illawong Hut and suspension bridge. The easiest parking is in Guthega Village which is about 350m from the trail head. At the time we did the walk permanent signage hadn’t yet been installed, but following the signs for Illawong sets you on the right path.

The track begins with one of the steeper sections, heading downhill to Blue Cow Creek where you cross a small metal bridge and then climb back up the other side. Next to the bridge you can see a metal flying fox which was once the only option for crossing the creek when the water levels rose over the rocks. The current bridge was installed in 2010 and offers a safer, if less exciting, way to cross the gully.

From here the walk flattens out and meanders along the side of the valley with the Snowy River running below. A small side track on your left takes you up to Illawong Hut, one of the oldest in Kosciuszko National Park dating back to 1926. Originally known as Pounds Creek Hut, it was built as part of the first ski tour across the Snowy Mountains. After falling into disrepair, the shelter was rebuilt and renamed in the 1950s to become the hut that exists today.

The track winds through low scrub towards the river and the iconic Illawong suspension bridge. Leading over the snowy river to the Main Range and further adventures, this bridge has recently been upgraded and it is from here that the new track begins.

Staying on the same side of the river (not crossing the suspension bridge) continue along the valley for about 700m until you see the new Spencer’s Creek Bridge come into view. Built specifically for this walk Spencer’s Creek Bridge claims the title of Australia’s highest suspension bridge at 1,627m above sea level. It is quite an impressive structure, sitting beautifully in the mountain landscape. This is the point where Spencers Creek merges with the wider upper reaches of the Snowy River and the day we walked there were people swimming in the crystal-clear water. Despite the nice warm January day we were not tempted to join them in water that had very recently been snow.

After crossing Spencer’s Creek the track climbs up again and we stop to have our lunch perched on a rock admiring the view of Twynam Creek cascading down the opposite bank into the Snowy River. Climbing higher up the valley, the low shrubs give way to twisted snow gums for a stretch before the switching back to alpine heath. Don’t forget to stop and look up from the track at the views ahead – some of Australia’s highest peaks can be seen rising in the distance. As you get closer to Charlotte Pass you can see the main range track zigzagging up the other side of the valley to Blue Lake.

The Guthega to Charlotte Pass track intersects with the main range track about half way up the hill to Charlotte Pass. We decided we had a bit mare walking in us, so we detoured down to and across the river to explore Foremans Hut Ruins. Crossing the Snowy River is a balancing act and I was wishing I had a hiking pole to assist me, but we made it across with dry toes and headed out over the alpine grass between the river and Club Creek. From the river it is about 500 m to the 1920’s Hut, where just a chimney and brick fireplace defy the elements and stand surrounded by some of the most stunning alpine scenery in NSW.

The centrepiece of the Guthega to Charlotte Pass walk is the Snowy River meandering down the valley. The river is visible for much of the walk, and often the only sounds you can hear are the flowing water and the crunch of your footsteps. For a mountain walk there is very little climbing, the first and last stretch being the most challenging. You have to admire the fabulous work that has gone into building the track. The combination of natural trail, flat steppingstones, and raised metal boardwalks provide an even path and blend well with the surrounding environment.

Kosciuszko National Park is an extreme alpine environment and regardless of the time of year you need to be prepared for any weather. High winds, rain and snow are all possible so please check the forecast before starting this walk and carry plenty of food, water, and warm clothing just in case. Between May and October, this walk is only for the very adventurous as the track will be covered in snow, you will need snowshoes or cross-country skis.

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