Mount Kosciuszko Hiking Guide (Walking Tracks to the Summit)

Last updated: April 5, 2021

Mount Kosciuszko in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales is Australia’s highest point, peaking at 2,228 metres above sea level.

While Mt Kosciuszko is primarily known as a busy ski destination during winter, the area is a very popular spot for hiking as well as for mountain biking during the warmer summer months.

This Mount Kosciuszko hiking guide describes the different walking tracks that take you to the summit of Australia’s tallest mountain, offering breathtaking views of Kosciuszko National Park.

History of Mount Kosciuszko

Mount Kosciuszko was discovered and climbed in 1840 by Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki, a Polish explorer and scientist who surveyed large parts of NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

Strzelecki named the mountain in honour of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish-Lithuanian statesman and military leader.

Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki Monument in Jindabyne
Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki Monument in Jindabyne

In later years, it was determined that the mountain peak known as Kosciuszko was actually lower than its neighbour Mount Townsend.

In 1892, the NSW Lands Department decided to swap the names of the mountains so that Mt Kosciuszko could keep the status of being the highest peak of Australia.

Mount Kosciuszko is part of the Australian Alps, which consist of the Snowy Mountains and the Victorian Alps.

The Snowy Mountains region is located in New South Wales and the ACT, and the Victorian Alps region is located in eastern Victoria.

Snowy Mountains
Elevation: 2,228 m
Highest Point: Mount Kosciuszko
Parent Range: Australian Alps

Where to Stay in the Snowy Mountains

The best places to find accommodation in the Snowy Mountains to climb Mount Kosciuszko are Jindabyne, Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte Pass.

Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte Pass are situated within Kosciuszko National Park, which has a vehicle entry fee of $29 during the peak winter months (from June to October) and $17 during the rest of the year.

The Mount Kosciuszko summit and Main Range walks both start at Charlotte Pass. Thredbo is the starting point for the shorter and easier Mount Kosciuszko walk.

1. Jindabyne

Located just outside Kosciuszko National Park, Jindabyne is a small town overlooking the man-made lake with the same name.

Jindabyne is a popular year-round holiday destination with lots of things to do, such as mountain biking, bushwalking, horse riding, fishing and kayaking.

Lake Jindabyne was formed in the 1960s as a result of the construction of the Jindabyne Dam on the Snowy River.

Lake Jindabyne
Lake Jindabyne

The dam was built as part of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, Australia’s largest hydroelectricity and irrigation complex, providing electricity and additional water to regions further inland.

To get to Jindabyne, follow Kosciuszko Road from Cooma for about 50 minutes (60 km). From Jindabyne, it’s only a half hour drive to Thredbo.

Jindabyne hotel tip: Rydges Horizons Snowy Mountains.

2. Thredbo

Thredbo is the most convenient and also most pleasant spot to stay, as it’s the starting point of the Thredbo to Mount Kosciuszko walk.

This track starts with an exciting ride on the express chairlift, located in the centre of town. Thredbo has a very friendly atmosphere with lots of hotels and restaurants to choose from.

Kosciuszko Express Chairlift in Thredbo
Kosciuszko Express Chairlift in Thredbo

To get to Thredbo, turn into Alpine Way in Jindabyne and stay on this winding road for about 30 minutes. Turn into Friday Drive which takes you into town past all the hotels and shops.

Thredbo hotel tip: Candlelight Lodge.

3. Perisher and Charlotte Pass

Perisher is the largest and most popular ski resort in Australia, with numerous ski fields and lifts.

To get to Perisher, follow Kosciuszko Road from Jindabyne for 30 minutes. Charlotte Pass is another 10 minutes drive further west and is the starting point of the Summit and Main Range walks.

Perisher Valley
Perisher Valley

Please note that Perisher and Charlotte Pass aren’t very lively during the off-season. So, if you’re looking for a bit more atmosphere and more things to do, Thredbo is definitely the better choice.

Walking Tracks to the Summit of Mount Kosciuszko

There are three main walking tracks that lead to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko. The shortest is 13km long, and the most challenging one is a 22km circuit walk.

  1. Thredbo to Mount Kosciuszko Walk (13km return)
  2. Mount Kosciuszko Summit Walk (18.5km return)
  3. Main Range Walking Track (22km circuit)

All three walking tracks intersect at Rawson Pass, close to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko, so there is an option to combine sections of the walks.

There is in fact a fourth walking track to the peak of Mt Kosciuszko. The very steep 15km long Hannel’s Spur Track is the original route that Strzelecki followed in 1840 to reach the summit.

The badly overgrown Hannel’s Spur Track is Australia’s biggest vertical ascent of 1800m and is really for experienced hikers only.

The map below gives you a rough indication of where the three main walking tracks are located.

The Thredbo to Mount Koscisuzko walk is marked in black (including chairlift ride at the start), the Mount Kosciuszko summit walk is marked in red, and the Main Range track is marked in blue.

The second part of the Main Range walk is essentially the Summit walk back to Charlotte Pass, making it a circuit.

  1. Thredbo Express Chairlift
  2. Eagles Nest restaurant and start of walking track
  3. Rawson Pass intersection
  4. Mt Kosciuszko Summit
  5. Charlotte Pass

Map with Mount Kosciuszko walking tracks

Be mindful that even during summer months the weather in this area can be extreme, with hot and cold days, strong winds, rain, and snow.

UV levels can also be extreme, even on cold days.

1. Thredbo to Mount Kosciuszko Walk

The shortest, easiest and most popular walking track to the top of Mt Kosciuszko starts at the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift in Thredbo.

While some sections along this walk are steep, most of the walking track consists of a comfortable metal walkway.

Kosciuszko Express Chairlift

You can choose to buy a one-way ticket and make your back to the base via a walking track, or you can purchase an all-day pass. While the trip with the Express Chairlift is a bit pricey, it’s quite an adventure in itself.

The best option is to buy an all-day pass online in advance, which is cheaper and easier than buying at the ticket counter.

Thredbo to Mount Kosciuszko walk
Thredbo to Mount Kosciuszko walk

At the top are two restaurants where you can have a drink and some food, while enjoying great views of the surrounding area. The top restaurant, Eagles Nest, is Australia’s highest restaurant.

The actual walking track starts right behind the chairlift station.

Lake Cootapatamba

One of the most interesting sights along this walking track is Lake Cootapatamba, a post-glacial mountain lake located 800m below the summit of Mt Kosciuszko.

Lake Cootapatamba is one of several lakes in Kosciuszko National Park, created by a natural damming process.

Lake Cootapatamba
Lake Cootapatamba

The lakes are the highest in Australia and have no fish, are very low in nutrients, and are covered with ice in the winter months.

Rawson Pass

Rawson Pass is where the Summit Walk on the old Kosciuszko Road meet the Thredbo to Mt Kosciuszko walking track. The last section to the summit starts at this Rawson Pass intersection.

Rawson Pass intersection
Rawson Pass intersection

This is also the location of Australia’s highest public toilet.

It was built in 2007 to deal with the increasing amount of hikers and cyclists visiting the mountain each summer.

Mt Kosciuszko Summit

The walking track winds itself around the summit of Mt Kosciuszko until you reach the very peak, the perfect spot for a picnic and of course the obligatory selfie.

Summit of Mount Kosciuszko
Summit of Mount Kosciuszko

The views of the surrounding landcape are absolutely breathtaking, and make you feel very small. Keep an eye out for Mount Townsend, officially only 18 metres lower than Mt Kosciuszko.

Thredbo to Mount Kosciuszko Walk
Distance: 13 km (return)
Time: 4-5 hours (depending on stops)
Grade: Moderate / hard

2. Mount Kosciuszko Summit Walk

The start of the 18km Mt Kosciuszko summit walk is at Charlotte Pass, at the end of Kosciuszko Rd. The longer Main Range walking track starts at the same location.

Until 1977 it was possible to drive from Charlotte Pass to a point past Rawson Pass, but the road was closed in that year due to environmental concerns. The track is open to hikers and cyclists only.

Mount Kosciuszko Summit Walk
Mount Kosciuszko Summit Walk

Cyclists will need to leave their bicycles at Rawson Pass and complete the last stretch to the peak of Mount Kosciuszko on foot.

The track crosses the Snowy River bridge and passes the Seaman’s Hut, a small cottage on the road to Mount Kosciuszko.

Seaman's Hut in Kosciuszko National Park
Seaman’s Hut in Kosciuszko National Park

It was built in 1929 by the parents of a skier who died there during a blizzard the year before. The purpose of this hut is to provide emergency shelter to those who need it in order to prevent recurrence of a similar tragedy.

Mount Kosciuszko Summit Walk
Distance: 18.5 km (return)
Time: 6-7 hours (depending on stops)
Grade: Hard

3. Main Range Walking Track

The Main Range walking track is a full-day outdoor adventure, bringing you the best of the Australian Alps secenery.

It’s the length that makes this once-in-a-lifetime walking track challenging, but the track overall is reasonably flat and is well-maintained.

Main Range Walking Track
Main Range Walking Track

The walk crosses the Snowy River twice, and offers panoramic views of several alpine lakes along the way.

A major highlight is Blue Lake, one of only four cirque lakes on mainland Australia. In 1996, Blue Lake and its surroundings were recognised as a wetland of international importance.

Main Range Walking Track
Distance: 22 km (circuit)
Time: 8-10 hours (depending on stops)
Grade: Hard

Mount Kosciuszko hiking guide

  1. I like it. I have done the walk from Thredbo. The Main Range Track looks quite good. I was contemplating the walking track via Hannels Spur.

    • That’s awesome David. The Main Range track is a great adventure, so that would be a good excuse to go back to the Snowy Mountains one day!

      • Hey there, great to read the article.

        Could you please advise if walking in December to the summit or to Blue Lake via the Main Range Track would require to include any precautionary items like snake protection gaiters etc. in list of items to carry due to the summer season. Not sure if required.

        • Hi there, to our knowledge snake bites are rare in the Mount Kosciuszko region, but there’s nothing wrong with extra protection for peace of mind. Another thing to consider is the climate there. Weather conditions can change rapidly, from cold to warm, and vice versa, not to mention the strong winds. It’s best to wear a few layers of clothes that you can take off during hiking when it gets warmer. The sun can also be very strong, so make sure you bring sun protection.

          Have a great trip!

  2. Hi there,

    Great information here. We’re really keen to head to Kosciuszko for some hiking soon. We’ll definitely be using your guide.

    Thanks in advance.

    Cheers, Dan & Beck

  3. Hi!

    Do you think this hike to the summit from eagles nest is possible first week of June? That’s without snow shoes.


    • Yikes!

      I personally wouldn’t but anything is possible of course. It’s definitely going to be cold, but snowfall is a bit unpredictable. Most of that walk though is on boardwalks so even if it snows a little the track should still be walkable.

      Let us know how you go.

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