Backpack the Cathedral Ranges
Australia › Cathedral Ranges Trailhead - Sugarloaf Saddle
Added by Katie Kessel
An overnight scrambler in the Great Dividing Range north of Melbourne with stunning views of the Victorian countryside.
This is a great hike to introduce yourself to scrambling - most of the first day is up on the ridge.
I have indicated below where this can be turned into a day hike, which is what a majority of the people we met on the hike were doing. The first day took us around 5 hours (6 kms) and the second day around 2 hours (4kms). Extra time is needed on the first day - the ridge is tricky!
On the first day, park your car at Sugarloaf Saddle and head down the road past the day area until you see the beginning of your trail on the right. Here you have two options, the Canyon Track or the Wells Cave Track. The Canyon Track is not easy, but definitely easier than the Wells Cave Track (which is apparently high and exposed). Given we had our backpacks, which are not recommended for this approach, we took the Canyon Track.
Follow your chosen trail up and up until you reach the beginning of the rocks. From here, it's the beginning of the scramble. I would not recommend starting this hike if it is raining or looks like it will rain because it does get quite slippery (especially if you have a pack!).
Once you get to the top of this section of rock, take a minute to enjoy the beautiful views from Sugarloaf Peak (920m / 3,018 ft).
From Sugarloaf Peak, continue along the ridge on the Razorback Track, which includes a lot of scrambling, until you get to the Farmyard. At some sections I found it easiest to take off my pack and drop it down before heading down myself. For those who wish to make this a day hike, you can head from the Farmyard to Cooks Mill then back up to Sugarloaf Saddle.
From the Farmyard, continue left up the hill toward Cathedral Peak on the Ridge Track. This section of the hike has less scrambling than before, but does have beautiful unobstructed views on both sides for most of the walk. Continue on this trail until you reach a junction with a sign that says Cathedral Peak is a 5 minute walk, where you can ditch your packs for an out-and-back. Here, keep going along the Ridge Track until you get to the top of the peak.
Cathedral Peak sits at 840m and has gorgeous views where you can see the sheer cliffs you were standing on a few minutes ago and the Western portion of the park.
Once you're done snapping pics, head back down and grab your packs and head east down Neds Gully Track. Once at the end of the track, you'll find Neds Gully, a large campground along Storm Creek, where you can grab more water and spend the night.
On the second day, head south along the river on the Little River Track until you reach Cooks Mill. From here, you can either take the Messmate Track via the Friends Nature Trail or take Cerberus Road back to Sugarloaf Saddle, which is shorter and the way we took (it was pouring rain!). Though you're on a road rather than a trail, it is not busy and you still get to see some stunning views on the way back. This section is all uphill, too, which you can expect since Sugarloaf Saddle sits at around 750m.
Overall, a fantastic and technical hike!
- If you're just starting out, I recommend to get lightweight and compressible gear whenever possible
- For both beginner and experienced backpackers, I've created a list of items that would be useful on the trail
- Sleeping supplies (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad)
- Warm clothes if not hiking in the summer for nighttime (it gets cold!) and extra socks
- Snacks, breakfast, dinner (and a stove with fuel)
- Pots, plates, and cutlery
- Waterbottle and water treatment method
- First aid kit, flashlight, knife
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Backpacking, Camping, Hiking
Spring, Summer, Autumn
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