Building where you catch the ski lift
Building where you leave the ski lift
This destination point of this walk is the Mount Kosciuszko Lookout (not the Mount Kosciusko Summit) making for a 4km return walk. While I have visited this site previously as a short stopover point on the way to the Mount Kosciusko Summit, I hadn’t thought of this walk as a standalone option until a recent visit. It was just after lunch and I was not far from returning to the ski lift at Eagles Nest when I was approached by an older couple (who looked to be in their late 70’s) who asked me how much further they had to go. This made me think that as popular as the summit walk to Mount Kosciuszko is, it isn’t accessible to everyone. As such this shorter walk provides good views without the need for physical endurance.
The starting point for this walk the Thredbo Village ski lift. In talking about this walk I need to start with the parking situation. Parking is limited throughout the village with the main parking area being not long after you enter the village – parking is either along the road or off the side in an all day parking area. There are a number of two hour parking areas and private car parks throughout the village but you risk a fine if you choose the wrong location. Once you have parked your car head to the ski lift building which also contains a couple of cafe and food options if you’re feeling peckish. A lift ticket (in early 2023) costs around $55 per day for an adult but you can get a discount if you purchase in advance. This is one of two downsides to this walk.
The other downside is that while the ski lift opens at 9:00am it can be impacted by strong winds at the top of the chairlift and own the day I did this walk I ended up starting two hours later than planned due to high wind gusts. Once the wind died down it was around a 15 minute ride to Eagles Nest. If you need a last minute toilet break, a cup of coffee or a snack then this is a good opportunity but be aware that the restaurant may not be open until later in the day.
From a navigation perspective this trail is about as easy as it gets. Apart from signage that is very easy to follow, the trail for most part is on a metal mesh walkway with small sections of concrete pathway at the start. The walk is mainly a steady uphill but not an overly steep grade as you avoid the steeper sections of the longer main summit walk.
You don’t do this walk because of the wildlife which is at best the occasional bird and while the wildflowers can be pretty amazing, you need to pick the time of the year. This walk is all about the views. To reach the lookout you are walking through a valley and while its pretty treeless it just has that special feel about it. Once you reach the very obvious lookout on the righthand side of the trail, you get views over a part of the Australian Alpine region that you won’t get without doing some harder options. The views aren’t as great as the summit of Mount Kosciuszko but they’re still worth it all the same.
Those familiar with the Australian Alps will know that the temperature can vary. In addition, the UV rating is much higher than you are used to at lower altitudes. The winds on the rooftop of Australia can also be very strong which can drop the temperature quite dramatically, even in mid summer, so come prepared for all conditions (see the image below of the apparent temperature).
Overall this walk will take the average fit hiker just over 1 hour and if you aren’t into hiking, allow extra time to spend at the lookout platform. The return trip is back the way you came; first Eagles Nest and then to Thredbo. Just make sure you are back at Eagles Nest in time for the return ski lift trip.
On the day I did this walk it was a Friday and there the smallest number of people I have seen on this track. Try this walk on the weekend and it will be very, very busy!
Ski lift building
Close up of chair lift
Wind delaying the chair lift. On the day I did this walk there was a two hour wait
Mountain bikers below
Approaching Eagles Nest
Top of chair lift
Signage at the start of the walk
Trails that start here
And off we go
Trail directional signage for this walk and others
Trail tread for much of the trail
Alternate trail signage
Approaching the lookout part way to the summit
At the lookout
Sweeping panorama view at the Kosciuszko Lookout, if you have the sound on you can hear the wind which was blowing a gale
Returning to Eagles Nest
Chair lift on the way down
Still heading down on the chair lift
This short video contains photos and video from our walk to show you the walk from start to finish including videos at the lookout platform on this walk
Travel to Jindabyne via Cooma and head towards Thredbo village. There is a park entry fee which you can pay as a day or annual pass either at the visitor centre in Jindabyne or at the toll gates on entering the park. The ski lift starts operating at 9:00am but the operation can be impacted by high winds.
Make sure you only park your car in designated parking areas or you run the risk of a fine
Signage approaching the turnoff
Turnoff sign 2
Turnoff sign 3
Park entry. You will need to pay an entry fee. It can be a single day fee or an annual pass
Approaching Thredbo turnoff
Cars parked along the road
Walking to the chair lift
This walk was undertaken by the team from Australian Hiker