Craving steep hills and spectacular mountain scenery? Take a day or two to explore Thredbo on foot. We’ve got the lowdown on the trails you can’t miss. No skis required.
Thredbo took us by surprise. We’re trail runners, hikers and very occasional (and slightly wobbly) cyclists. Skiing is not in our repertoire. But it’s April, so skiing isn’t on anyone’s itinerary.
Instead, there are endless webs of trails to explore. Some high, some low, some swirling dizzily. For trail runners and hikers, this is a little piece of heaven.
GET YOUR BEARINGS
Thredbo is an alpine village in Kosciusko National Park, in the Snowy Mountains. To many, it’s a heaving ski resort filled with tourists. But to us, visiting in the off-season, it was a charming German-esque base camp at the heart of our mountainous playground.
The village of Thredbo sits in the valley of the Thredbo River at an altitude of 1365 metres, making for brilliant riverside runs (patience, patience…we’ll get to that shortly). But technically, the village stretches up to the top of the ski lifts (2,037 metres elevation). This is a little confusing when you’re at the top of Kosciusko and the signs for Thredbo say it’s only 4km away.
Just a note…the Alpine Way into Thredbo is not as steep and windy as we were led to believe. If the Old Girl can do it, any one can! Also, Jindabyne is only a half hour drive away if you need to restock at Woolworths etc.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU GOT?
What are you doing? Stop wasting time. Get your runners on and hit the trails. For the best views, start at the chairlift station and follow signs for the Merritts Nature Track. The 4km trail winds up to the very top of the ski lifts – Eagle’s Nest – criss-crossing with the mountain bike trails, toboggan run and emergency access road along the way.
Warning: this is extreme stair training. We passed a maintenance guy on the way who told us “the guy who built the trail was 6 foot 7. That’s why the steps are so high.” He wasn’t lying; it took our quads a few days to recover!
Once at the top, walk along the metal walking track to the summit. Running is not permitted along this track (much to our horror), but walking 6.5 kilometres gives you plenty of time to take in the surroundings. And oh, what surroundings. Once you’ve reached the summit and walked back, follow the signs to Dead Horse Gap. This 6km track takes you down via the ski fields and a beautiful forest of Snow Gums.
The trail is narrow but definitely runnable and lots of fun. This leads you down to the Alpine Way, where you’ll run along the Thredbo Valley Trail for 4 kilometres into the village. And…done!
Start day one with the Kosciusko Summit Walk (as above), but rather than turning back at Rawson Pass, follow the signs to Charlotte Pass. It doesn’t matter which way you run or hike – we chose anti-clockwise, so it was 7.7km to Charlotte Pass on a beautiful downhill 4WD trail past the Seaman’s Hut (built in 1929) and over the Snowy River. Then 12.5km of rolling hills (ahem, mountains) from Charlotte Pass back around to Rawson Pass via the Main Range Track.
The landscape up the top is forever surprising, so take time to stop, look around and breathe it all in. If you’ve got the energy, take a couple of worthwhile side trips to Blue Lake and Muellers Peak. Note: there are public toilets at Rawson Pass and Charlotte Pass.
On day two, you’ll want a rest. So why not enjoy a long run along the Thredbo Valley Track? The trail starts in Thredbo village, just opposite the leisure centre. Hiking or walking the whole thing is 16.7km one-way. It’s well marked and weaves through two campsites before arriving at historic Bullocks Hut.
We were pitched at Thredbo Diggings campsite, a cruisey 15.5km from the village and a really fun 31km return trip. Especially because the walking trail doubles as a mountain bike trail, so there were some brilliant curves and chicanes where we may or may not have pretended we were Formula One cars.
TIME TO REFUEL
Coffee and muffin lovers can’t go wrong with Central Road 2625 (next to the Ripcurl shop, opposite the newsagent). The coffee was pretty good – by Mat’s standards that’s epic – and the muffin hit the spot. We didn’t have breakfast, but they smelt amazing. Though, at that point, we still had 15km to run back to the campsite so anything smells good! There’s also a pricey FoodWorks for the basics.
You need to buy a pass for Kosciuszko National Park ($17 per vehicle per day, outside winter peak). But it’s easy to see where the money goes. The roads are smooth. The campsites are impeccable – clean drop toilets and fire pits. And most importantly for us, whether we were on the top of Kosciuszko or running through the valley, the trails were well marked. We didn’t take one wrong turn – and trust me, that’s really saying something.