Sitting at 1986m tall, Mount Bogong is the most majestic of all mountains in Victoria. It can be conquered as a challenging 6-10 hour, 16km day hike or a (still pretty challenging) 20km circuit with a night spent sleeping under the stars.
In addition to great walking, Bogong is located in the Victorian Alps, meaning it’s a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding in the winter and mountain biking the rest of the year, when the weather permits.
To enjoy all that Victoria’s highest mountain has to offer (without experiencing symptoms of a mild heart attack), hiking it over two days and one night is a much more civilised and fun option. You’re rewarded with time to take in the stunning alpine views and have the privilege of watching the sun set (and rise) atop Victoria’s highest point. As far as domestic bucket lists go, hiking Mount Bogong should be on it.
There are a few different ways to hike Mount Bogong which I shall go into in more detail a little later in this post. However I would highly recommend heading up the steep and aptly named Staircase Spur and down the easier-on-the-knees Eskdale Spur, looping back to the starting point of the hike, the Mountain Creek camping area.
Mount Bogong will push you, test you but most importantly, stay with you as no doubt one of the most memorable hikes you’ll ever experience in Victoria!
Getting to Mount Bogong & starting the walk
Mount Bogong is 374km away from Melbourne which takes about 4.5 – 5 hours to drive.
That being said, it is quite hard to squeeze in an overnight hike for a weekend unless you leave on a Friday. You essentially have two options for staying the night near the start of the Bogong Summit Trail.
The first is camping at the start of the trail at the Mountain Creek Campground in either a tent or campervan. Alternatively, you could book accommodation in the nearby town of Mount Beauty and drive 12 minutes to the Mountain Creek Campground in the morning to leave your car and begin the summit.
It is advised to start the walk early in the morning to avoid the heat in summer and ending up walking in the dark and frost/ice which can form in winter.
Accommodation at Mount Beauty
Mount Bogong circuit hiking routes
As mentioned, there are many routes you can take to reach the summit of Mount Bogong, each differing in terms of length, difficulty, accessibility and scenery.
However if you do not have a 4×4 vehicle and want to experience the full overnight hike, you essentially have two options – Staircase Spur and Eskdale Spur.
A map of the Mount Bogong Summit Circuit trail (minus the optional 4km Cleve Cole Hut campground out-and-back hike)
Up Staircase Spur (down Eskdale Spur)
The most popular, direct and undoubtedly the most challenging route is by powering up the steep 6km Staircase Spur route. The scenery, stunning viewpoints and intriguing rock formations offer great compensation for the leg burning and heart pounding.
The hike to the Staircase Spur trail can begin from the Mountain Creek Campground/car park where you’ll walk up a 2km long dirt vehicle track first, before joining the upward trail to your right through the Peppermint Gum forest.
Alternatively you can drive up this dirt road and park beside the start of the Staircase Spur track. Skipping trudging 2km on the way back on a fairly boring fire track may just be the saving grace you need! We left our van at the Mountain Creek Campground and regretted it (especially when the last 2km on the dirt track gave me blisters and never seemed to end!!)
The steep walk through the shaded and pretty forest breaks about half way (3km from the summit) upon reaching the first shelter, Bivouac Hut. We somehow made a great pace, reaching Bivouac Hut in a touch over 2 hours from the start of the Staircase Spur Trail head.
Bivouac Hut offered a very welcome resting place and grassy lunch spot. To the back of the hut there is a water tank to refill any bottles (you’ll need to filter it or use purification tablets). It’s also amazing to simply splash your face with icy cold water.
After lunch, the real elevation gain commences. The terrain changes – you now walk through alpine Snow Gums and some occasional scrambling is required up the big rock ridge until you reach the summit plateau. From Bivouac Hut, it took us 1.5 hours to reach the summit of Mount Bogong.
Overall you should allow roughly 4 hours to hike up the Staircase Spur to the top of Bogong, plus the additional distance to then reach your desired camp spot.
Returning down the pretty and mainly shaded Eskdale Spur the next day took us 3.5 hours (walking fast with no stop for lunch).
Overall you should expect 8-10 hours of hiking across both days.
Up Eskdale Spur (down Staircase Spur)
The other alternative is doing the circuit the other way around, hiking up Eskdale Spur first. It starts with a fairly long slog of road hiking continuing past the Staircase Spur Trailhead up to Camp Creek Gap.
Alternatively if you have a 4WD you can drive up Camp Creek Gap but you’ll only have to do it at the other end for a circuit making the return hike longer. Otherwise you can leave your car outside the Staircase Spur Trail for when you return.
On Eskdale Spur Trailhead, you can reach Mitchell Hut, a great resting point for lunch, in about 1.5 – 2 hours (or from Mountain Creek in 3 hours). From there, roughly another hour or so will take you to the summit.
This is a much more gradual, steady route, winding uphill through lovely changing vegetation and forest before a very steep ascent up a rocky ridge. Turn right at the top to reach the summit of Bogong.
There are no rocky steps here (it’s a zig-zagging stone and dirt trail all the way). That means on day two you’ll therefore head down the steep steps of Staircase Spur. Personally, I find going down a steeper route of steps harder on the knees/legs so I prefer to go up them.
What it’s like at the top of Mount Bogong
The top of Mount Bogong is very open, exposed and carpeted in low-lying spiky alpine grass and heath.
To be honest, I felt like I was more on top of a large hill as opposed to a mountain, but on a clear day it offers great views of the Alpine National Park such as of Mount Feathertop and Mount Hotham. You can really see how the undulating, rolling hills at the top would offer fantastic skiing in the winter.
At the top we even spotted a wind surfer enjoying catching the gentle gusts of wind, gliding back and forth and dramatically swooping down to us as we watched – the show off!
If you’ve been to Scotland or Yorkshire then the terrain at the top of Mount Bogong is reminiscent of the heather-carpeted Moors or highlands!
Camp Spots on Mount Bogong
There are three huts on the Mount Bogong Summit trail. They offer emergency shelter, a resting point for lunch, drop toilets, water and flat clearings for camping.
So long as you’re a responsible camper, you can of course pitch a tent elsewhere on the mountain, and not necessarily at the site of a hut.
As it was such a clear, still and sunny weekend, we considered pitching a tent at the top of Mount Bogong to stargaze. However being so exposed, we were concerned about wind picking up in the night or getting too cold. Conditions change rapidly at the top of Bogong so it is best not to risk it and instead camp somewhere with some treeline protection (though of course not directly under trees).
– Bivouac Hut
– Cleve Cole Hut
This extremely pretty and well-equipped stone hut is widely regarded as one of the best in the High Country. Inside there is a sink, log burning stove, platforms for sleeping and interesting historic memorabilia all over the walls.
Outside the Cleve Cole Hut is absolutely ample flat space for camping, surrounded by the most beautiful low-lying vegetation. Approaching it in my tired state, and along with all the wildflowers, was dream-like!
From the summit of Mount Bogong you head South (which is right along the ridgeline). The downside is that Cleve Cole Hut adds on an additional 4km (1 – 1.5 hours) of walking (and onto the next day too as it is an out-and-back trail). Although a tiring final slog, in my opinion, the campsite makes it worth it!
– Mitchell Hut
Located on Eskdale Spur, Mitchell Hut is not too dissimilar from Bivouac Hut in the sense that there is limited space surrounding it for camping. There are however a few small, slightly hidden clearings before the hut, as well as some space right beside it.
The advantage is that if you’ve gone up Staircase Spur, it is downhill on part of the return route from the Summit of Mount Bogong. Therefore it is much shorter (and easier) than heading to Cleve Cole Hut for the night, and shaves off a little bit of time from the next day’s hike.
If you’re heading up Eskdale Spur, Mitchell Hut offers a good resting point for lunch.
As always, these huts are for emergency use only and you should not plan to sleep in them. Instead you should bring your own camping equipment and sufficiently warm sleeping attire.
Essential things to bring
Always be up-to-date with the weather and prepared for all conditions you may face on the long and exposed hike of the Bogong Summit Trail. The conditions can change rapidly without warning (and of course differ from the bottom of the mountain to the top).
Many skiers and hikers have lost their lives in sudden adverse weather conditions such as storms and avalanches. You even hike past memorials, and huts such as Cleve Cole were built in memory of those who passed away on the route.
In addition to thoroughly checking the conditions, here are just a few essential items you should bring on your hike up Mount Bogong:
No matter how you tackle it, experiencing Mount Bogong as an overnight hike is one of the most rewarding walks you can do in Victoria and in my opinion, although hard, it’s one of the best hikes in Australia.
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