I’m claiming Mount Feathertop to be Victoria’s most beautiful mountain – big call, I know. I’d also go so far to say that it’s probably one of the most beautiful peaks in all of Australia. The unique pyramid shaped mountain is the second highest in the Alpine National Park, making the Mount Feathertop hike something that every hiker in Australia wants to do at least once in their life.
However, there are a number of routes that you can take to reach Mount Feathertop. The Razorback is one of the most incredible trails in the alpine region, traversing the ridge that runs from Hotham to Feathertop. But, while this is certainly the most popular and well-known option, there are a couple of tougher climbs from near Harrietville, which offer a different perspective.
I’ve managed to do all of the main routes to get to the top of Mount Feathertop over the last couple of years. Whenever I’m in the Hotham area, it’s a mountain that I need to revisit time and time again. I’ve decided to put together this complete guide to the different Mount Feathertop hike options, so you’ll have more of an idea about which one you might want to tackle.
About Mount Feathertop
Mount Feathertop is the second highest mountain in Victoria, after Mount Bogong. Standing at 1922 metres high, it’s part of the expansive Australian Alps. The mountain is located in the Alpine National Park, between the popular ski resorts of Falls Creek and Hotham.
It’s an incredibly unique mountain and stands out quite distinctly from the other ridgelines in the surrounding area. The cone shaped peak means that the 360 degree panoramic views from the summit is one of the best you’ll get in the entire High Country.
The peak is usually covered in snow from June to September, but there may be a dusting of snow at other times of the year. In these winter months, you’ll need snow shoes or skis to reach the slopes of the mountain, but in the green hiking season, the snow melts to leave various trails.
How to get there
The closest town to Mount Feathertop other than the Hotham Ski Resort is Harrietville. This is a small town on the Great Alpine Road, with only a handful of accommodation options, pubs and cafes. From Melbourne, Harrietville is 346km or a 4.5 hour drive away.
About 24km before Harrietville is the larger town of Bright, which has all the supplies and facilities you’ll need. This is a beautiful town in the High Country and a popular holiday destination.
If you want somewhere to stay nearby:
Alpine Arnica Cottages | This property offers one bedroom cottages right in Harrietville town on the Great Alpine Road and are a comfortable but affordable stay. Check it out here.
Edlin House | A beautiful accommodation property in Bright, they offer Queen Rooms around a pretty garden and courtyard. Check it out here.
Prefer camping? You can stay at Smoko Campground which is a free camp off the Great Alpine Road between Harrietville and Bright. It only has a basic toilet and no other facilities. Otherwise, Harrietville and Bright have caravan parks to camp as well.
Read next: 12 Best Places to Stay in Bright
Mount Feathertop hike map
Although not the best map, this is the best I can do! Parks Vic doesn’t supply a decent park map for this area of the Alpine National Park.
Different routes to the summit
There are technically four trails that take you to the summit of Mount Feathertop. I’m going to detail these four different options below.
Then, there are also a few other trails that are often used by those doing a Mount Feathertop overnight hike. They can make it a much longer hike and connect you to other trails in the area. I will also detail these in a separate section below.
Keep reading for all the details you need for hiking Mt Feathertop!
- Distance from trailhead to summit: 11km
- Trailhead: Opposite Diamantina Hut at Hotham on the Great Alpine Road
- Difficulty: Moderate-Hard
This is the most popular hiking route to get to Mount Feathertop and for good reason. The Razorback track connects Mount Hotham to Mount Feathertop, walking along a long north-south ridgeline. You begin this trail already above the treeline, so you can enjoy incredible views from start to finish.
This also means that the elevation gain is not as tough as the other trail options. However, it’s quite an undulating track, with shorter ascents and descents as it crosses the Razorback ridge.
The Razorback track begins just outside of Hotham village on the Great Alpine Road, opposite Diamantina Hut. There’s limited parking, with most people simply parking along the road edge. You’ll see the trail information board and the summit of Feathertop in the distance.
After 9.5km of walking from the trailhead, the Razorback Track comes to a T-junction. You’ll see a memorial plaque here and a beautiful snow gum tree. From here, if you look to the left you’ll be able to see Federation Hut and the Bungalow Spur Track just down below. But to your right, is the final 1.5km to the summit of Mount Feathertop.
After just 400 metres you’ll meet the Northwest Spur and Tom Kneen Track coming up from your left. Then the final kilometre is very steep and exposed as you finally crest this incredible mountain. There’s no official mark for the true summit, but there’s plenty of room to spread out and take some photos of the stunning panorama of the Australian Alps.
As you walk along the Razorback, you’ll notice a few trails leading off it either down to the west or east. This makes it a great track as part of a longer overnight hike, as it’s well connected to give you various return options. The Bon Accord Track, Champion Spur Track and Diamantina Spur Track are all connected to the Razorback, which I’ll detail in a section below.
Bungalow Spur Track
- Distance from trailhead to summit: 11km
- Trailhead: Bungalow Spur Trailhead on Feathertop Track in Harrietville
- Difficulty: Hard
This is the second most popular trail for a Mount Feathertop hike. Bungalow Spur takes you from down in the valley near the town of Harrietville all the way to the lofty peak following the western spur. This trail climbs steadily with plenty of switchbacks through the forest.
It’s an interesting alternative to the Razorback, because you start in dense green forest and slowly make your way through different vegetation zones until you emerge above the tree line into the alpine. For this reason, it’s not as scenic as the Razorback and is also much more steep and challenging.
The Bungalow Spur trailhead is conveniently located in the town of Harrietville. There is now a proper car park area for hikers on the corner of Feathertop Track and Dredgehole Lane. The official trailhead is then a further 300 metres up the road. You’ll see a major signboard indicating the Bungalow Spur Track.
The ascent is virtually immediate and the entire 11km is uphill. However, the continuous slog does allow you to get into a good rhythm as you push on up. There are a couple of nice spots for a rest, the first being Picture Point and the next being Tobias Gap. They are simply little saddles in the track with some room to rest, but there’s no facilities.
After 7.7km along the Bungalow Spur track, you’ll come to the Old Feathertop Hut ruins. It can be easy to miss as there’s not a whole lot there other than some old stone bricks. However, to your right, there is a small sign and skinny track leading to a natural spring. This is ideal if you didn’t carry enough water with you.
Just a further kilometre on from the old hut ruins, you’ll finally emerge from the trees and pop out at Federation Hut. This well-known backcountry hut is the perfect place for a break. There’s a drop toilet, water tank (not always full) and plenty of flat space. This is a popular camping location for those doing a Mount Feathertop overnight hike (more on this below).
The climb isn’t over though. From Fed Hut you have to continue up along the trail to the summit. After 500 metres you’ll come to the intersection of the Razorback Track and then continue straight ahead for the final steep 1.5km to the very top.
Northwest Spur via Tom Kneen Track
- Distance from trailhead to summit: 10km
- Trailhead: The end of Stony Creek Road between Harrietville and Smoko
- Difficulty: Hard
This lesser known trail is a great alternative to the Bungalow Spur Track. Of the three main tracks up to Mount Feathertop (Razorback, Bungalow and this one), it’s definitely the least used. However, it was surprisingly still quite easy to follow when we did it.
There is a big sign and intentions book at the trailhead at the end of Stony Creek Road. The first 2km is relatively flat as it skirts around private property fence lines. This section was a little overgrown, but there are arrows that you should follow. You’ll then come to the first river crossing. There are some natural stepping stones to use to get to the other side.
The trail then undulates up and down until you get to the second river crossing. This is made much easier with an old wooden bridge. From here, the real uphill battle begins. The trail switchbacks quite relentlessly upwards through the forest and away from the valley below.
Once you hit the Northwest Spur, the trail straightens out but definitely doesn’t flatten out! You’ll start to notice the thinning vegetation as you get closer to the MUMC Hut. After 7km from the start, you’ll finally emerge above the tree line and on a little plateau where the unique MUMC Hut sits.
This futuristic geometric shaped hut was built by the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club back in the 1960s. It’s really clean and tidy inside and is a huge space for skiers in winter to seek refuge from any storms. There is also a drop toilet outside.
From the hut, you can see Mount Feathertop looming high above still and you may even be able to make out the trail you’re about to take as it continues along the ridge. The next 2km will take you underneath the summit and eventually merge up onto the main ridge with the Razorback Track and Bungalow Spur Track. This section is absolutely stunning, with panoramic views stretching all around you as you climb above the hut.
About 500 metres before you meet the other trails, you’ll hear some running water. This natural spring is a great spot to fill up water, if you really need.
Once you finally come to the end of the Northwest Spur, you’ll meet up with the main trail heading for the summit. You need to turn left and walk the final kilometre to the very top of Mount Feathertop. If you turn right, it leads down to Federation Hut.
Razorback North Walking Track
- Distance from trailhead to summit: 4.5 km
- Trailhead: At the end of Stony Top Track (4×4 only)
- Difficulty: Hard
The least used and rarely known out of the trail options to hike Mount Feathertop. The Razorback North track is the shortest option but very difficult to access. First, you need to take the Stony Top Track which begins off the Great Alpine Road near Freeburgh. This rough 4×4 only track climbs the ridgeline, saving you plenty of walking time. However, it does take around an hour to drive this section and you need a high clearance vehicle.
At the end of the road is the trailhead, which marks the beginning of the Razorback North Track. It’s quite steep, but is also very overgrown and difficult to follow in places, due to such few people using it.
The track climbs up from the north side of the mountain, with no intersections with any other trail. You’ll steeply come up to the summit, where you can rest before returning the same way. This is the only trail of these four that I haven’t done and in fact, from my research it only looks like a couple of people attempt it per year.
Other trails to know about around Mt Feathertop
The following three trails don’t actually lead you to the summit of Mount Feathertop, but they’re useful because they connect some of the tracks mentioned above with other longer hikes. In other words, they are pretty much only used by those interested in doing an overnight hike, as they make any Mount Feathertop hike much longer.
So, if you’re interested in doing an overnight hike at Mount Feathertop, these trails will offer an alternative descent or enable you to extend your hike to other parts of the Hotham area.
Bon Accord Spur
- Distance from trailhead to trail junction with Razorback: 12km
- Trailhead: End of Bon Accord Track in Harrietville
- Difficulty: Hard
The Bon Accord Track or Bon Accord Spur connects the Razorback Track with Harrietville. It was actually the old pack horse route used to get from Harrietville to Mount Hotham before the Great Alpine Road was built. It offers a really nice overnight Mount Feathertop loop option for those wanting to start and finish in Harrietville, without going up and back the same way.
Many hikers take the Bungalow Spur Track up to Federation Hut, set up camp for the night there and summit Feathertop in the late afternoon or evening. Then the next day, you can take the Razorback Track for 8.5km towards Hotham until you reach the Bon Accord junction, then take that trail down to Harrietville for another 12km. It makes for a big second day of over 20km, but it’s a nice alternative to get back to your car instead of taking the Bungalow Spur back down again.
Bon Accord Track is quite steep and sometimes a bit overgrown early in the season, because it does see far less hikers than the Bungalow Spur and Razorback. However, overnight hikers do often use it throughout summer.
Champion Spur Track
- Distance from trailhead to trail junction with Razorback: 8.5 km
- Trailhead: Tronoh Dredge Reserve in Harrietville or the same trailhead as Bon Accord (both trails crossover near town)
- Difficulty: Hard
The Champion Spur Track used to offer an alternative to the Bon Accord Track. Its purpose was the same, to offer overnight hikers an alternative route back to Harrietville. However, the Champion Spur is a shorter option. You only need to take the Razorback for 3km towards Hotham and then the Champion Spur Track heads down for 8.5km to Harrietville.
Unfortunately, this trail has all but disappeared. Only a handful of people have used it recently from my research and all have said that it’s incredibly overgrown and basically a bash through the bush with a few river crossings thrown in as well. You’d want to be confident with a good GPS if you were going to use this track, although it is still marked on AllTrails and Maps.Me.
I would recommend the longer but more often used Bon Accord Track option instead.
Diamantina Spur Track
- Distance from trail junction with Razorback to West Kiewa Logging Road: 4km
- Difficulty: Hard
Okay, this is the final trail I’m going to write about I promise! The Diamantina Spur Track is a very handy trail to use if you want to make a longer Mount Feathertop Loop hike around Hotham. This trail is the only option which takes you down the eastern side of the Razorback away from Harrietville.
It connects the Razorback Track with the West Kiewa Logging Road, which can then be used to get you back up to Hotham via Dibbins Hut and the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing. This makes a great three day loop hike from Hotham, which I can highly recommend.
I started in Hotham, took the Razorback out to Mount Feathertop and camped at Federation Hut the first night. The next day I took the Diamantina Spur Track down to the logging road and then walked to Dibbins Hut for the second night. I then followed the Falls to Hotham Crossing/Australian Alps Walking Track back to Hotham. You can read about this in more detail here.
Now, the Diamantina Spur Track is no joke. It’s a short 4km, but is a very rough track that leaves the Razorback just 1.4km along and then heads steeply down the other side. It’s quite relentlessly steep in places (poles are very useful here) and a bit overgrown, although I could just follow it without using any GPS. However, it’s quite convenient and once you hit the logging road, it’s much easier back to Hotham via Dibbins from there.
Mount Feathertop day hike vs overnight hike
Now, I’ve described pretty much every possible trail around Mount Feathertop. But, which one should you use? This heavily depends on whether you decide to do a day hike or overnight hike.
For day hikers, the most popular option is out and back along the Razorback Track. This is certainly the most scenic and easier way without the long climbs up from Harrietville. However, if you can car shuffle with a friend, I’d definitely recommend taking one trail up and a different one back down.
For example, going up the Northwest Spur/Tom Kneen Track and then taking the Bungalow Spur Track back down is a really good way of doing Feathertop, with just a short drive between trailheads.
If you’re keen to try an overnight hike, then a lot of hikers like to take the Bungalow Spur Track up and then the Razorback and Bon Accord track back down to Harrietville. This gives you a really nice varied loop.
Otherwise, a two night, three day loop hike incorporating Mount Feathertop can easily be done as well. I detailed it a bit above, or you can read my in depth guide here.
The real benefit of opting for an overnight hike is to be able to watch the sunset or sunrise (or both) from the top of Mount Feathertop. By setting up camp at Federation Hut, you can walk to the summit pack free. Fed Hut is the only designated camping area around Feathertop, although you could camp near MUMC Hut on the Northwest Spur/Tom Kneen Track, if you needed.
Essential information for hiking in the alpine region
- There are no park fees for the Alpine National Park and camping is free at Federation Hut and other huts in the area.
- You must be prepared for all weather conditions in the alpine region. Make sure you carry warm clothing and wet weather gear.
- The alpine region can be volatile and unfortunate accidents can happen while hiking. You should always carry a first aid kit and personal location beacon for personal safety.
- Snakes are common on these trails mentioned above. You’ll more likely seem them below the treeline in the forest sections, but you can definitely find them over the entire area.
- Water can be available on some of these trails. I have mentioned in the above descriptions where you might find water. However, don’t rely on these sources and it’s ideal if you can carry enough for the day.
- There are no way markers or arrows showing you the way on these trails. Generally, navigation is pretty straight forward though for well-worn trails like the Razorback and Bungalow Spur. However, a couple I detailed above are often overgrown, such as the Razorback North and Champion Spur. Only tackle one of the trails above if you feel confident. GPS apps have these trails marked on them, including AllTrails and Maps.Me.