Charlotte Pass, NSW
Charlotte Pass and the end of Kosciuszko Road
Three trails start from this trail head which means that it can be busy. I had to park 500metres down the road on this busy Australia Day long weekend
Mount Kosciuszko trail head at Charlotte pass
Charlotte Pass and the end of Kosciuszko Road
The toilet facilities at the trail head are excellent
The Mount Kosciuszko Summit walk from Charlotte Pass would probably rank as probably the most walked trail in Australia with around 100,000 people reaching the peak each year from the various trail heads, mainly Thredbo via the chairlift and from Charlotte Pass. If you don’t mind the longer walk and don’t feel up for the chairlift then the Mount Kosciuszko Summit walk which is essentially on management trail for the full length is a must do option.
At just on 19km I would have expected this trail to be mainly undertaken by keen walkers but I must admit on the day that I did this trail there were all sorts of walkers ranging from very young children to older individuals and many of them very obviously not regular walkers attempting this hike. I had also done the Main Range Walk the day before and again a wide range of walkers were present on the mountain. I think for many people the ability to say that they have stood on the highest point of Australia is a big drawcard.
This particular summiting option starts at Charlotte Pass and as you would expect on any trail in the Australian Alps there are some ups and downs but overall the approximate 9.5km ascent to the summit is pretty well a gradual incline almost all the way up. During the warmer months the trail itself is very easy to follow but in wintertime your navigation and snow skills need to be well honed. The weather in this area can turn bad at any time and the last time I ascended Mount Kosciuszko which was from Thredbo the temperature started at 27°Celsius and by the end of the walk had dropped to 4ºCelsius and that was mid summer. Always come prepared for a variety of weather conditions when you walk in the Australian Alps just in case.
This trail is a ‘return’ trail going up and coming back on the same management trail. The good thing about this trail is for most of it there is a gradual incline almost all the way to the summit with only one smallish downhill section. Distance markers appear every 1km on this walk on the large trail posts that cater for deep snows in winter time. If you hike this trail outside of snow season then is almost impossible to get lost and this would explain the minimum amount of directional signs on this trail.
On your walk up you pass some amazing scenery, cross the Snowy River (which is a good place to dangle your feet into the water on the way back), and pass Seamans Hut which can provide some shelter if the weather turns bad and can be slept in during an emergency (Sleeping in this hut is for emergency use only). Its worthwhile dropping into Seamans Hut to have look at the historic information that explains why the hut was built in the first place.
Shortly after you pass Seamans Hut you will come to a very large toilet facility at Rawson’s Pass which are the Highest toilets in Australia. From here you continue up to the summit itself and providing the water is good you will have some great views. Most people who reach the summit want their photo taken at the summit stone but don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line for your photo opportunity. If you do this walk from charlotte pass I suggest starting early so that you can park close to the trail head and also avoid all the crowds. If you want to be at the summit at sunrise and its mid summer you will need to leave at around 3:15am to get there in time. Alternatively camp part way up so you only have a short walk in the morning which will allow you to avoid the really early start. You sent allow to camp at the summit more in any of the river of lake catchment so I would suggest camping just past Seamans Hut.
Apart from the spectacular views the wildflowers are well worth the visit in their own right and while early summer is a better time for this aspect of the walk there always seems around to look at.
The return trip is back the way you came from Mount Kosciuszko to Charlotte Pass. This walk also forms part of the 22km Main Range walk.
The trail to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko is just to the right of the toilet block
Typical trail on this walk. The trees on the side of this management trail disappear fairly quickly
Trail markers. this trail shows that there is 5km to go to the summit. They appear every kilometre
Crossing the Snowy River
Directional signage just outside Seamans Hut
Seamans Hut. This hut is for use for day walkers and for emergencies, not for sleeping in during normal conditions
Early summer is the best wildflower season but even in mid summer there is a good show
While animal life is minimal in the alps the thing that makes up for it is the wildflowers and alpine vegetation which is different from most other areas in Australia that we are used to hiking in. The trees are almost non existent except for when you start and finish this trail. Most of the Alpine vegetation consists of grasses, wildflowers and low shrubs that cope with the extreme winter conditions. Peak wildflower season is early summer but depending on the weather you will often find that there is some snow in patches that is present almost year round and its only real in mid-late summer that you can be reasonably guaranteed to have snow free hiking.
Stylidium sp – Trigger Plants. These plants are wide spread throughout Australia and I love coming across them in any location
The turnoff to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko. At this point the Main Range Walk merges with the Mount Kosciuszko Summit walk
Sunrise as seen from the summit of Mt Kosciuszko. If you want to see the sunrise from Mt Kosciuszko you will either need to leave Charlotte Pass at around 3:15am (in mid summer) or camp part way up. On this day I only had a 45 minute walk to reach the summit
The fog rolled in just after sunrise
Summit of Kosciuszko around lunchtime. This walk is best done early in the day to avoid the crowds. This image was taken while doing the Main Range Walk and there were around 150 people there at lunchtime all wanting there photos taken at the summit stone
The Alpine ecosystem is a fragile environment so keep of the grass where directed
The March Fly’s will bite through socks as well as thinner tops. I would advise against wearing shorts or short sleeved shirts on this walk as they are very persistent particularly between November-March
Australias highest toilets at Rawson Pass on the way back to the trail start. This is not an easy trail to just nip ff the path for a call of nature
The sign returning you to Charlotte Pass
Note the height of the trail markers on the road edge (3 metres) to take into account the winter snow
Trail finish back at the Charlotte Pass car park. The toilets are to the right and the parking is straight ahead down the road.
Travel to Jindabyne via Cooma and head towards Charlotte Pass. There is a park entry fee which you can pay for as other a day or annual pass either at the visitor centre in Jindabyne or at the toll gates on nearing the park. The visitor centre in Jindabyne opens at 8:30am most days but check the timings on the website just in case.
This walk was undertaken by the team from Australian Hiker