• Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    1.9 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1312.3 Feet


Excellent campsites surrounded by lakes and steep mountain ridges. Amazing views over the Hollyford Valley!

The Valley of The Trolls can be accessed from the head of Lake Harris, off the Routeburn track. The trail in the valley is a lot tougher going than the well maintained Routeburn track. The valley floor will quickly become a swampy bog after a rain. 

Getting to the trail is easily done about 300 meters before reaching the Harris Shelter. A small trail will branch off northwards from the Routeburn track itself and follow the north-western shore of Lake Harris. This means that to access the valley, one must first hike the initial 13km of the Routeburn track, from the Routeburn carpark. The Valley of The Trolls itself is not a very long valley, however, it can be used a gateway to further/ more technical hiking opportunities. Once at the top of the valley you can either choose to push on towards these or turn around and hike out the same way you walked in.

While in the valley you will start by walking over bouldery terrain which after a short while will switch over to open, boggy fields.

At the head of the valley there is a large waterfall, and beside this, to the right, a steep gully. Climb this gully to reach Lake Wilson and further hiking/ camping opportunities. Make sure to climb up the right side (looking up the valley towards the waterfall) of the waterfall, and not the left, as the left side becomes impassable further up. There is one section while going up that is fairly steep and you might need to climb it. This is only a meter or two, however, the rest of the trail is not technically difficult apart from being steep.

There are several excellent campsites surrounding Lake Wilson. From here it is possible to scramble further up the peaks to the west for amazing views of the Hollyford Valley, the Darrans and The Tasman Sea. Mt. Erebus to the east is also a relatively easy summit. 

As previously mentioned, the Valley of the Trolls and Lake Wilson are often the starting point for longer backcountry tramps, heading north on the ridgeline towards North Col. These routes are a more serious undertaking and require good preparation and good backcountry knowledge for the region and the rights skills to go with it.

Note that this is not part of the Routeburn track, there is not much of a trail after the initial section, and you will need to be self-sufficient, and confident in your own skills, as traffic up this route is a lot slower than the Routeburn. The rewards, however, are well worth the effort, as you will have amazing views over the surrounding Fiordland/ Aspiring National Park's valleys and peaks!

Pack List

  • Outdoors essentials 
  • Tent
  • Cooking gear/food
  • Waterproof clothes
  • Camera gear
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Erik Nilsson

Outdoors enthusiast. Half Swedish, half Canadian. Raised mainly in Sweden, but spent the majority of the last 3 years travelling and exploring many of this earths wild regions. Mountains are the best.

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