The expansive, flat top of Mount Bogong is the highest point of the Victorian High Country. Rising above the Bogong High Plains in the middle of the alpine region, it’s an impressive mountain that is near the top of most hiker’s bucket lists. Standing at 1986 metres, it requires a steep and challenging climb to reach the top, making any Mount Bogong hike no walk in the park.
While the remote mountain can be summited a number of ways, we decided to climb Mount Bogong in one long day from the northern side. We followed a popular loop up Staircase Spur Track and down Eskdale Spur Track. Close to Mount Beauty, it’s the most accessible side of the mountain for a day hike.
While it’s a knee-breaking 1300m ascent, the climb is one you’ll remember forever. Not only for the pain in your calves and lungs, but for the stunning panoramic views as you emerge above the treeline to the exposed summit at the roof of Victoria. This guide to the Mount Bogong hike will help you plan your walk to the top of the Alpine National Park all within a day.
Quick info about Mount Bogong hike
Distance: 18km loop (22km if starting from Mountain Creek Campground, more on this below)
Time: 7-8 hours*
Start/end: Mountain Creek Road Trailhead (or Mountain Creek Campground if you don’t have a 4×4)
Location: Alpine National Park, Victoria
Closest town: Mount Beauty
History: It was a source of significant food where Aboriginal people collected Bogong Moths. The name “bogong” means big fella or high plains in the local Aboriginal language.
*This time is based on our experience, which includes a few breaks. I’ve read some people needing up to 12 hours to finish it, so start early regardless of fitness level!
Getting to the trailhead
The Mountain Creek Road Trailhead is 363km from Melbourne or a 4.5 hour drive. It’s a beautiful drive via Seymour, Euroa, Benalla, Milawa and Myrtleford.
To complete this day hike, it’s best to stay somewhere close by the night before. Mount Beauty is the obvious option, being the closest town and just 20km from the trailhead. This is where we stayed at the caravan park, but the small town also has other accommodation options. Check out some of these:
Kiewa Country Cottages || Just outside of Mount Beauty, it’s perfect for a weekend escape. They offer two bedroom cottages set amongst a pretty garden on the property. Each cottage is self contained, plus there’s an outdoor pool and fireplace to relax before or after your long hike. Check availability here.
No. 43 Loft || Located on the highway just before Mount Beauty, this loft accommodation is a cosy spot for a couple or solo hiker. The modern apartment has a kitchenette, private bathroom and a balcony with mountain views. Check availability here.
The Park Mount Beauty || This is where we stayed, which is the only caravan park in Mount Beauty. It’s a beautiful spot right on the river with plenty of green grass. They have powered and unpowered camping, as well as cabins. Check it out here.
Otherwise, if you want to stay even closer and don’t mind bush camping, there is a free campground known as Mountain Creek Campground. There’s a few nice spots here, with two drop toilets. It’s accessible by a sealed road. It’s only 2km from the main trailhead further up the dirt road or can be used as the main trailhead for the day hike if you don’t have a 4WD, so it’s very convenient.
There is technically two trailheads for the Mount Bogong hike via Staircase Spur, depending on whether you have a 2WD or 4WD vehicle. The main trailhead for the Staircase Spur route is on Mountain Creek Road, 2km further on from the campground on a dirt road. There are a few river crossings on this stretch, hence why a 4×4 is recommended. We took a Colorado ute, so were able to drive through the campground and straight to the trailhead. There’s no official parking there though, with only room for around two vehicles on the side of the road (see image above). Be respectful and don’t block the road!
On the other hand, most people who have a conventional vehicle start the walk from the Mountain Creek Campground. There’s plenty of parking around the campground and then you just need to follow the dirt road to the main trailhead. This obviously adds around 4km onto the total hike – making it 22km.
The other parking option is at the Eskdale Spur Track Trailhead or otherwise known as Camp Gap. The road between the Staircase Spur Trailhead and Eskdale Spur Track is 4WD only, with more river crossings. However, if you have a 2WD, you can take a longer route from Mountain Creek Campground to Trappers Gap and then down to Eskdale Spur Trailhead at Camp Gap, as this dirt road is usually in good condition for most vehicles. You should ask at the Mount Beauty Visitor Information Centre about the road conditions beforehand, as it can change.
Mount Bogong map
Walk directions and route options
The Mt Bogong Hike is generally completed using both Staircase Spur Track and Eskdale Spur Track. Both summit the mountain from the northern side and are more accessible than the other routes for a day hike.
It’s recommended to tackle the Staircase Spur Track on the ascent and then take the Eskdale Spur Track for the descent. This is because the Staircase Spur is the most challenging and direct route to Mt Bogong summit, making it more ideal for a steep incline.
Eskdale Spur is more gentle (although only just) and arguably more beautiful. It’s best for a nice descent, but it’s still no walk in the park – you’ll definitely feel your knees regardless.
The other option would be to go up and back the same way. Some people prefer to shorten the day by going up and down Staircase Spur Track. However, I would personally prefer to take a different route on the way down, even if it’s a little longer.
Alternative route options
The Granite Flat Spur Track is another alternative on the northern side of the mountain. It’s a shorter route option which deviates from Eskdale Spur near Michell Hut. It requires a 4WD to access the trailhead on Camp Creek Road further on from the Eskdale Spur trailhead. It’s not as commonly used and would only really be an alternative option if you’ve already done Eskdale Spur.
There are also a couple of route options to the summit on the southern and western side of the mountain. However, these are less accessible and more suited to a Mt Bogong overnight hike or longer multi-day hike. These tracks are:
Long Spur Track: The longest route to the summit, the Long Spur is part of the Australian Alps Walking Track. The Long Spur Track connects Cleve Cole Hut with the Omeo Highway over to the east. It’s accessible via 4WD on Big River Road.
T Spur Track: This is a trail to the south side that comes up and joins the Long Spur Track, before continuing onto Cleve Cole Hut on the way to Mt Bogong summit. It connects Ropers Hut with Mt Bogong, making it popular for those completing a multi-day hike around the Falls Creek and Bogong area.
Quartz Ridge: Coming up from the western ridge, the Quartz Ridge Track links the Cairn Creek Hut and Big River Track with the summit. It’s popular for those doing a complete multi-day loop around Mt Bogong and Falls Creek.
Watch my video of the Mount Bogong hike
Track notes: Mount Bogong hike
On an overcast and cool summer day in February, the three of us left Mount Beauty early in the morning on our way to Mountain Creek Campground. We drove through the campground and past the sleepy campers as we made our way to the Staircase Spur Trailhead.
Each of us knew we were in for a big day – but it is the highest mountain in Victoria after all. We hit the trail just after 7.30am, with full day packs and charged camera batteries ready to tackle this monster climb.
Ascent via Staircase Spur Track
We parked on Mountain Creek Road at the Staircase Spur Trailhead, so we were able to skip the first 2km on the dirt road from Mountain Creek Campground. We signed the registry book at the signpost and then headed straight up the trail on the right.
The Staircase Spur Trail starts to ascend immediately as it winds its way straight up through the forest on a skinny track. The cool morning air didn’t bother us too much, as we were soon stripping our layers off. It’s pretty dense greenery, amongst tall gums on a well-worn dirt track.
After just under 4km, you’ll reach Bivouac Hut on a plateau, which is the perfect place for your first short break. There’s some rocks and logs to sit on and we enjoyed a cup of tea and a snack. The track passes the wooden hut and continues up the spur.
The views started to appear on our left, as the trees grew shorter and started to thin out. We climbed some sections of rocky steps until, finally, we emerged above the tree line with expansive views across the Australian Alps.
The skinny trail continues up the spur ridgeline following old wooden snow poles for the rest of the way. There’s another little plateau, with rocky outcrops out to your right for a nice viewpoint. We stopped to take some photos here before facing the relentless vertical climb to the summit, which you’ll see right in front of you.
You can see the trail cutting sharp switchbacks into the slope as it ascends the north face of Mount Bogong. Closer to the top, you’ll pass the Gadsden Memorial Cairn, which commemorates the death of four hikers who died in a blizzard on the mountain in 1943.
The Staircase trail continues up until it reaches Pole 1278 and the trail junction near the top. You need to turn right and walk the final 300m to the summit of Mount Bogong at 1986m. (There is a shortcut which cuts off the junction and heads straight to the summit – either way is fine).
The 6.5km from the trailhead to the summit had taken us around 3.5 hours with a couple of decent breaks for snacks and photos.
The summit of Mount Bogong
At the summit, you’ll find a large rock cairn on the flat top marking the highest point. Otherwise, the huge flat area at the summit is completely exposed and only covered in alpine grass. It’s often windy, with a very icy chill to the air, even in summer.
However, on a clear day, you can see right across to Mount Buffalo and Mount Hotham and the triangular peak of Mount Feathertop, as well as, some other well-known alpine areas like the Bogong High Plains.
We stayed to have lunch and enjoy the view, but we definitely needed to put our jackets on as we soon felt the cool air. We met a solo hiker completing a long five day loop around Falls Creek and Bogong, and she was heading down the Quartz Ridge to Cairn Creek Hut for the night.
Descent via Eskdale Spur Track
We began our descent from the summit at around 11.45am. We walked back the way we’d come but instead walked past the track junction with the Staircase and took the next track on our left, which was signposted as Eskdale Spur Track.
The 2km down to Michell Hut is very steep as it follows the ridgeline of the spur back down to the foothills. You can look across to your left at the Staircase Spur that you climbed on the way up, which is a very impressive view.
This incredible panoramic outlook across the rolling alps on the descent to the hut was probably the most scenic part of the whole hike for me. But just as we continued to dip lower and lower, we found ourselves below the tree line once more.
We stopped briefly at Michell Hut and an overnight hiker caught up to us on his descent. He’d stayed at Cleve Cole Hut the night before and was heading out to his car at the bottom of Eskdale Spur.
The almost 2.5km steep walk down from the hut to Camp Creek Road carpark and trailhead was long. By the time, we finally came out at the bottom, we could all feel our shaking legs. The 4.5km from the summit to the bottom of Eskdale Spur Track had taken us 2.5 hours.
However, we then had the 5km to walk back along the dirt road to our car at Mountain Creek Road Trailhead. Being a wide and mostly flat track, we were able to smash that out in just over an hour. All so eager to get back to the car so we could head back into Mount Beauty and enjoy a restful afternoon.
We were back at the car just after 3pm – around 7.5 hours after leaving that morning.
Mount Bogong camping and huts
On the day hike described here via Staircase Spur and Eskdale Spur, you’ll pass two high country huts. Bivouac Hut is situated on the Staircase Spur Track and Michell Hut is on the Eskdale Spur Track. Both offer a great chance to rest sheltered by the icy wind and with toilets. There’s also another hut on the southern side of the mountain.
Otherwise, if you’re planning a Mount Bogong overnight hike or extended multi-day hike in the Australian Alps, then you can also use the huts as campgrounds. While the huts themselves should be reserved for emergencies only, they’re generally in nice spots with room to camp close by.
Bivouac Hut: Around 4km from the trailhead at Mountain Creek Road on Staircase Spur Track, Bivouac is the perfect spot for a break on your ascent. It’s a small wooden structure, that is best used only in emergencies. There’s some sheltered camping areas around the hut, plus a long drop toilet.
Michell Hut: Around 2km down from the Mount Bogong summit on Eskdale Spur Track, this tin hut offers emergency shelter or a rest stop on your way back down. There is a long drop toilet there, with some sheltered camping spots in the trees around it. You can also access the Granite Flat Spur track from this hut.
Cleve Cole Hut: About 4km down Mount Bogong on the southern side of the mountain towards Falls Creek, Cleve Cole is a very popular camping spot in the Australian Alps. This stone hut is one of the best in the entire High Country region, with plenty of camping space around it. While you don’t get to see the hut on this day hike, it’s a popular choice for anyone doing a Mount Bogong overnight hike. It can get very crowded on weekends though, so be aware!
Safety and essential information
If you’re planning to do this hike, here’s some practical information you should know before you go.
For a long day hike like this in the alpine region, you’ll want to pack a full day pack with gear for all conditions. The weather can change at any time in the mountains, and you need to be prepared for cold, wind, rain and even snow throughout the year. Some of my essential gear for the Mount Bogong hike includes:
- Sturdy shoes: Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes for this hike. The terrain is varied and steep, plus the long day means you’ll want to make sure you have well broken in footwear. I wore my Keen Targhee which are a great lightweight and comfy hiking boot.
- Big daypack: Make sure you have enough room to carry safety equipment, extra clothing and enough food and water. A 30L daypack is a nice size for decent hikes like this one.
- First aid kit: An essential for any and all hikes, a small first aid kit is important, plus you should also carry a snake bite kit as well.
- Water bladder: Carrying plenty of water is vital for a long day hike and I find a water bladder or hydration reservoir the best way to carry it. You can try this 3L CamelBak, which is a high quality option.
- Rain jacket: You never know when it’s going to rain in the high country. You should be prepared for all conditions, so this rain jacket is a nice option to have stashed in your bag.
- PLB or other emergency device: Any hiker should carry a Personal Location Beacon. These small devices can save your life anywhere, anytime. If you don’t want to buy one, you can also hire one from any Macpac store, find out more here.
The trails are very well worn, although not consistently marked. You’ll find signposts at track junctions, plus large signboards and registers at the trailheads. The two trails described above, Staircase Spur and Eskdale Spur, are well-worn and quite obvious. They are skinny tracks but you shouldn’t have any problem following them. However, other trails in the alpine region are sometimes not as clear and navigation can be a problem in bad weather.
I always like to have some sort of GPS app just so I know distances to certain landmarks and where I am on the track. For a straightforward day hike like this, Maps.Me is fine and all the trails, huts and summit points are marked on it.
There are rain water tanks at each of the high country huts. You can’t always rely on them having water, although there was some at Michell Hut on Eskdale Spur when we were there in February. If you’re doing a day hike on Mt Bogong, I would suggest carrying enough for the whole day.
You’ll find more reliable water at Cleve Cole Hut which has a stream nearby, and running water in the hut. This is handy if you’re camping there for the night.
I would still recommend purifying the water somehow. I use a Lifestraw bottle, which is an easy way to ensure you’re drinking safe water.
Many skiers and hikers have lost their lives in adverse weather conditions over the years on Mount Bogong. You’ll see memorials on the mountain for people who have passed. The weather can change at any time, and cloud cover or rain can blow in even in summer. Make sure you’re prepared for all weather conditions, including freezing conditions, with warm clothing.
The other danger you’ll come across is snakes. They’re more common lower down in the foothills and around the base of the mountain, especially in the dense forest and near the streams. Many people report seeing them on this hike, so simply give them plenty of space to move off the track and you should be fine.
Above the treeline, it’s much less likely to see any snakes but it’s still possible. We were lucky and didn’t see any for the whole day, but it was quite cool and overcast.
Nearby alpine hikes
If you’re looking for more hikes in the area, you’ll find plenty of other trails to get out and see some incredible views.
For those looking for multi-day hikes in the alpine region of Victoria, you can check out: