Australia Backpacking

How to Hike in Walls of Jerusalem National Park, Tasmania

A hiker in Walls of Jerusalem National Park in Tasmania

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love Tasmania’s wilderness. I spent 6 days exploring it on the Overland Track on my first visit in 2019, so when I returned to Tasmania in 2020, I pretty much went right from the airport directly to Walls of Jerusalem National Park to go backpacking. Unlike the popular Overland Track, Walls of Jerusalem is a lot more wild with no huts, no track fees, and no advance reservations required. However, it definitely wasn’t short on beauty. It’s located in Tasmania’s central highlands and boasts some spectacular views, rocky peaks, and kilometres of well-laid-out trail. I spent three days in the area, which was enough to see all the major sights, but I could have spent weeks more exploring off-trail. 

If you’re looking to explore Tasmania’s wilderness on a multi-day bushwalk, a trip to the Walls of Jerusalem is a great option. In this guide, I’ve got everything you need to know to visit this gorgeous destination including:

  • How to get to Walls of Jerusalem National Park
  • Walls of Jerusalem walk notes including track descriptions, distances, elevation gain, difficulty, and time for each section
  • Where to camp in Walls of Jerusalem National Park
  • Info on each of the popular day walks in Walls of Jerusalem

 

Heads up: This trail is located in a sensitive wilderness area. Learn how to Leave No Trace before you go to keep the wilderness wild. Make sure you are prepared for an emergency by bringing the 10 Essentials on every hike.

 

Walls of Jerusalem National Park Basics

Overview: Walls of Jerusalem National Park is located in Tasmania’s central highlands near Cradle Mountain National Park. It’s a hike-in only wilderness park made of up rocky peaks and tiny crystal blue lakes. The park takes its name from two prominent cliff bands that early Europeans thought looked like the walls of Jerusalem. In later years, subsequent bushwalkers including local legend Reg Hall gave other geographic features in the area Biblical names. While you can do a day walk into the area, most hikers opt to camp for a night or two. That way they will have enough time to tackle some of the nearby peaks. Check out this short video I made for my Youtube channel for a great overview.

Distance: At least 22km return. More if you add on peaks.

Elevation Gain: At least 620m. More if you add on peaks.

Difficulty: If you stick to the main Walls of Jerusalem track, the hike is of moderate difficulty. The initial climb up from the car park is a bit challenging, but the rest is quite straightforward. If you venture off onto any of the other unmarked tracks or off-trail areas, the difficulty jumps up to challenging. 

Time: 1-4 days

Best Time To Go: Tasmania’s highlands are usually snow-free between November and March. However, the best weather is in December, January, and February. 

Weather: Walls of Jerusalem National Park is high up in Tasmania’s central highlands. It can be cold, wet, and windy up there at any time of year. We experienced 1C temperatures at night and 50km/h winds in early January!

Cost: You must have a Tasmania National Parks pass to enter the park, but there are no other fees. The best value for hikers is the holiday pass. It’s valid for 8 weeks and covers up to 8 people travelling in the same vehicle. 

What to Bring: Everything you need to be self-sufficient. Use my simple backpacking checklist to get your gear prepped for the hike. 

Rules: This is a fuel stove only zone so campfires are prohibited. No dogs or drones.

Animals: Walls of Jerusalem National Park is part of the Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Area in the state’s highlands. It contains lots of unique plants and animals in a high alpine ecosystem that is rare in Australia. Bennett’s wallabies, wombats, possums, quolls, and snakes are all common. (I only spotted wallabies and snakes.) And speaking of possums, they are especially bold at both Wild Dog Creek and Dixon’s Kingdom campgrounds. Keep your food inside a sealed dry bag to minimize smells. We also hung our food between two trees on a thin cord to keep possums from getting at it.

Plants: The region is also home to some unique plants including a pencil pine forest near Dixon’s Kingdom. In late December and early January the scoparia bushes bloom. I was lucky enough to catch the tail end of the flowers. Keep an eye out for the remarkable cushion plants in the central walls and near Dixon’s Kingdom. These bright green oddities can grow up to 3m across and look like giant pin cushions. Be careful not to step on them though, as they are very fragile.

Flowering Scoparia in Walls of Jerusalem National Park

Flowering scoparia with cushion plants in the background.

Maps: If you are heading to the area, pick up a topographic map from Service Tasmania to use for navigation. However, if you are planning your trip, I’ve also made you an awesome custom Google map. 

Further Resources: The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service website has info about the area, but it’s not very detailed. The best guide book to the area is “Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair, and Walls of Jerusalem National Parks” by John Chapman, Monica Chapman, and John Siseman. You can find it at bookshops in Tasmania.

 

Getting to Walls of Jerusalem National Park

There is no public transport to Walls of Jerusalem National Park so you will need to drive yourself or hire a shuttle. Cradle Mountain Coaches offers shuttles from Hobart, Devonport, and Launceston. I used them to get to the Overland Track in 2019 and they were easy to deal with. 

On this trip, we drove ourselves to the Walls of Jerusalem trailhead. It’s a long drive, but it’s easy. It’s entirely on sealed (paved) roads except for the last few kilometres. However, even the gravel portions are fine for all cars. There is no mobile phone reception on the last portion of the drive, so make sure you bring a map or bring a copy of the driving directions below so you don’t get lost. 

Driving from Devonport

Take Highway B19 north from town. In Spreyton, turn right onto the B14 and follow it to Sheffield. From Sheffield, turn right onto the C136 to Gowrie Park. Continue on the C136 past Mount Roland, then turn left onto the C138. Turn right onto the C171, which becomes gravel part way along.  Continue south to Lake Rowallan, then along the lakeshore to the bridge over the Fish River. Immediately after the bridge, turn left and follow the road uphill for 1km to the car park.

Driving from Launceston

Follow Highway 1 west to Deloraine. From there continue on the B12 west through Mole Creek. Turn left onto the C138, then left again onto the C171, which turns to gravel part way along. Continue south to Lake Rowallan, then along the lakeshore to the bridge over the Fish River. Immediately after the bridge, turn left and follow the road uphill for 1km to the car park.

Driving from Hobart

Head north on Highway 1 to Deloraine. Then follow the directions from Launceston above. 

 

Walls of Jerusalem Walk Notes

Car Park to Trappers Hut

Distance: 2.5km | Elevation Gain: 380m | Time: 1-1.5 hours | Difficulty: Challenging

The first section of the track to Walls of Jerusalem is the hardest. It gains 380m in just 2.5km. The steep hill, combined with a heavy backpack, can be quite a challenge. Thankfully, it’s over quickly. Pack lots of water as this section is usually dry.

There’s an info kiosk at the car park with a map. It also houses the walkers’ logbook. Make sure you sign-in at the start of your hike and sign-out at the end. There’s also a toilet here. It’s the last one until Wild Dog Creek, so be sure to use it. If you drove yourself to the trailhead, make sure to leave your national parks pass on the dashboard of your car.

The start of the walk to Walls of Jerusalem actually begins with a boot cleaning station. There are brushes to scrub your boots, plus a cool pump-operated disinfectant station. Tasmania’s wilderness is under threat from invasive diseases and plants, so cleaning your boots is super important. 

After the boot cleaning station, the trail starts to climb uphill. In the first kilometre you’ll pass by an old info kiosk that used to hold the walkers’ logbook before the new car park kiosk was built. You’ll also formally enter Walls of Jerusalem National Park. The park boundary is marked with a big blue sign. There are a few small streams in this section that may be running in spring and early summer but expect them to be fully dry by late summer.

A hiker wearing a backpack stands on the steep trail leading up to Trappers Hut in Walls of Jerusalem National Park, Tasmania, Australia

This section of the trail is steeeeep!

The next 1.5km of the trail is fairly unremarkable. The path continues to climb through the forest, although there are a few flatter sections where you can catch your breath a bit. The final bit up to Trappers Hut is quite steep. Pause for a snack at Trappers Hut. Be sure to go inside to read the info panels about this historic building. While it used to be a cozy home for fur trappers, the hut is now a historic structure so you aren’t allowed to sleep in it. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to either as it’s full of holes!

Trappers Hut in Walls of Jerusalem National Park, Tasmania

Historic Trappers Hut

 

Trapper’s Hut to Wild Dog Creek

Distance: 4.5km | Elevation Gain: 110m | Time: 1.5 hours | Difficulty: Moderate

Unfortunately, the climbing isn’t over after Trapper’s Hut. A few minutes past the hut, you’ll arrive at a junction. The track to the right leads to Lake Adelaide while the main Walls of Jerusalem path heads left. Turn left and continue uphill. About 1km and 100m of elevation gain after leaving the hut, the grade eases up.

From here, the track undulates up and down over a rocky plateau. The track underfoot is rarely smooth with lots of rocks and roots, so watch your step. You’ll pass lots of small tarns sprinkled throughout. These are known as Solomon’s Jewels. About 2.5km from Trapper’s Hut the track dips down next to the largest lake. It’s a great spot for a break if you need one. 

Solomon's Jewels in Walls of Jerusalem National Park

Solomon’s Jewels with King David Peak in the background

After leaving the lakeshore, the track continues along the plateau. Just past the 4km mark, you’ll catch sight of the Wild Dog Creek campsite across the valley and King David’s Peak up ahead. Descend a small hill into the flat-bottomed creek valley. The campsite is just uphill to the right of the track. The campsites are arranged along three side trails. The toilet is on the highest trail if you need to use it.

Wild Dog Creek, Walls of Jerusalem

Boardwalk trail leading across the Wild Dog Creek valley. You can see tiny tents at the campsite just uphill and to the right of the track.

 

Wild Dog Creek to Dixon’s Kingdom 

Distance: 4km | Elevation Gain: 140m | Time: 1.25 hours | Difficulty: Easy 

From Wild Dog Creek, continue up the hill for another half kilometre and 50m higher to a pass known as Herod’s Gate. This is where you will enter the Walls of Jerusalem proper and start to enjoy the most spectacular scenery in the park. The sheer walls of King David’s Peak rise up to your right and the valley stretches out in front of you. The walk through the valley is mostly on smooth boardwalk that makes for fast and easy travel.

Flowers bloom next to a boardwalk track at Herod's Gate in Walls of Jerusalem, Tasmania

Walking through Herod’s Gate

Past Herod’s Gate the track curves around the walls, passing above Lake Salome. Next, it traverses across the valley towards a stand of trees. Just past the trees, a boardwalk path goes left. It’s a short 100m walk to the Pool of Bethesda, a beautiful little tarn that makes a great snack spot. 

Pool of Bethesda in Walls of Jerusalem, Tasmania

A calm morning at the Pool of Bethesda

Back on the main track, the boardwalk swings to the right and begins a gentle climb up to another pass. This one is called Damascus Gate. There are great views from here. At the top of the pass, you’ll reach a 4-way junction. Your path to Dixon’s Kingdom goes straight. The track to the left leads to the summit of the Temple while the one to the right goes to Solomon’s Throne and King David Peak.

A view of Damascus Gate in Australia's Walls of Jerusalem National Park from above

Looking down on Damascus Gate from the Temple. You can see the trail from Wild Dog Creek winding its way through the valley on the right up to the pass, then descending towards Dixon’s Kingdom on the far left.

Descend from Damascus Gate on a boardwalk and stone path that is usually as smooth as a sidewalk. The route curls around the side of the Temple and descends 70m into the forest to reach the hut and camping area at Dixon’s Kingdom. 

Stone track in Walls of Jerusalem National Park

Walking on the lovely stone work track near Dixon’s Kingdom

 

Walls of Jerusalem Circuit and Other Route Options

The route from the Walls of Jerusalem car park to Dixon’s Kingdom is definitely the most popular way to hike in Tasmania’s Walls of Jerusalem National Park. However, lots of other routes are possible. Some use established trails, but most make use of some off-trail routes or faint and un-maintained trails. I haven’t done any of these options so I don’t have any advice to offer, except that they mostly sound awesome and many of them involve marshy terrain. If you want to tackle any of these routes, definitely pick up a copy of “Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair, and Walls of Jerusalem National Parks” by John Chapman, Monica Chapman, and John Siseman. It’s not easy to find online but you can pick it up lots of book shops and visitor centres in Tasmania. 

A hiker stands in scrubby bushes in Tasmania's highlands

A sample of the off-track terrain in the park

Walls of Jerusalem Circuit: Instead of making an out-and-back hike to Dixon’s Kingdom, some walkers opt to make a circuit. They follow the description above to Dixon’s Kingdom, then descend off-trail to Lake Ball. From there, they pick up the Junction Lake Track to Lake Adelaide, and then rejoin the main trail near Trapper’s Hut. This circuit is about 26km long.

Walls of Jerusalem to the Overland Track via the Never Never: This 60km+ route for experienced hikers takes walkers through the Walls of Jerusalem to Dixon’s Kingdom. From there it’s off-trail navigation to Lake Ball to pick up the track heading south to Junction Lake. Hikers then walk off-trail through a section of the Mersey River Valley called the Never Never. The route meets up with the Overland Track near Hartnett’s Falls, then follows the Overland Track to its end at Lake St Clair. 

Other Options: There are tons of other off-track options in the area. The landscape is very open and for experienced navigators, it should be easy to explore. I’d love to return to hike off-track to some of the other little lakes nearby. You’d be sure to have them all to yourself. If you go, be sure to pick up a topo map from Service Tasmania or park visitor centres. 

 

Camping in Walls of Jerusalem National Park

There are two established camping areas in Walls of Jerusalem National Park with toilets: Wild Dog Creek and Dixon’s Kingdom. You can also wilderness camp almost anywhere else in the park, with a few exceptions. I’ve got details on all three options below.

 

Wild Dog Creek Campsite

This campsite is located 7km from the carpark on a hillside above Wild Dog Creek. The Parks and Wildlife Service have done a lot of work to this site: there is a toilet, rainwater tank, and 8 timber tent platforms (some of which are large enough for two tents).  There are more platforms on the third level of the site, but they are reserved for commercial guided groups. If the public platforms are full, there are also some overflow spots on the grass. PWS says this is the campsite that they prefer hikers to use since it is the best at minimizing environmental impact. 

Wild Dog Creek is a logical base camp for groups that find the ascent into the park exhausting. It’s an easy walk to Herod’s Gate, the core Walls area, and Damascus Gate. However, it’s a longer hike to Mount Jerusalem from here. On my hike we found Wild Dog Creek to be too short of a walk from the car park so we kept going to Dixon’s Kingdom.

Wild Dog Creek campsite in Walls of Jerusalem, Tasmania

Camping at Wild Dog Creek is on timber tent platforms.

 

Dixon’s Kingdom Hut and Campsite

Dixon’s Kingdom is the name for a historic hut set in a grassy valley 11km from the car park. It used to be the summer home of the Dixon family in the 30s and 40s when they grazed cattle here. These days the hut is in pretty rough shape and should only be used in an emergency. Be sure to go inside the hut to check out the info board about the area’s history. As well, park rangers ask that you don’t camp within 15m of the hut to allow other hikers to enjoy it.

There’s a toilet near the hut and a tiny creek running through the valley. The Parks Service plans to install timber tent platforms here, but until that happens, you’ll need to find a spot on the grass. There are spots in the pencil pine forest south of the hut and along the west side of the trail north of the hut. 

Camping at Dixon's Kingdom in Tasmania

Tents on the grass at Dixon’s Kingdom. You can see the wooden roof of the hut in the trees on the left.

 

Wilderness Camping

You can pitch a tent pretty much anywhere in the park. However, you aren’t permitted to camp in the core walls area between Herod’s Gate and Damascus Gate. That means that the formerly popular Pool of Bethesda area is off-limits to camping. As well, Parks recommends that you avoid camping directly next to water as these areas are easily eroded. If you plan to wild camp, keep in mind that the entire area is quite boggy so it may be difficult to find a campsite that is both flat and dry.

 

Day Walks in Walls of Jerusalem National Park

While you can walk into the Walls of Jerusalem in one long day, most hikers plan to stay overnight to tackle one of the excellent day walks in the area. There are four peaks to climb. Here’s everything you need to know about each one.

Solomon’s Throne

Starts from: Damascus Gate | Distance: 1.2km return | Elevation Gain: 120m | Difficulty: Moderate | Time: 40 minutes return

This short but spectacular hike gets you to some of the best views in Walls of Jerusalem. It’s a steep climb, but the Parks Service has done an amazing job of arranging the jumble of rocks into stairs that are straightforward to ascend.

From the saddle at Damascus Gate head southwest towards the steep rock face of Solomon’s Throne. The first few meters are on boardwalk before the track changes to stone stairs to ascend a scree slope. The track turns left to traverse under the rock face before ascending a steep and rocky cleft on more stone stairs. You’ll pop out of the shaded gully onto the summit plateau which is startlingly flat after the steep ascend you just made. Follow markers northwest for a few minutes to reach the summit at 1446m and its incredible viewpoint.

A hiker stands at the peak of Solomon's Throne in Tasmania's highlands

The incredible view from Solomon’s Throne

 

King Davids Peak

Starts from: Damascus Gate | Distance: 4km return | Elevation Gain: 160m | Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging | Time: 2.5 hours return

King Davids Peak is the most prominent mountain in the core Walls of Jerusalem area. Its pointed peak is the first thing you see from Wild Dog Creek. The sheer walls of this peak and the ridge it shares with Solomon’s Throne are the defining features of the area. So of course, lots of hikers want to climb it. I didn’t have time on my trip, but it looks worthwhile.

To hike to King David’s Peak, follow the directions to Solomon’s Throne, above. (There used to be other trails to reach the peak, but they have all been closed for ecological reasons.) From Solomon’s Throne continue along the ridge crest. There’s no formally marked trail so you will need to find your own route through the boulders and scrub. However, other walks told us that there is a faint trail to follow most of the way to the summit.

King David's Peak in Walls of Jerusalem, Tasmania

Walking below the imposing walls of King David’s Peak

 

The Temple

Starts from: Damascus Gate | Distance: 1km return | Elevation Gain: 110m | Difficulty: Moderate | Time: 40 minutes return

From Damascus Gate, the Temple looks like an indistinct pile of rocks. Compared to the rock walls of Solomon’s Throne is pretty unimpressive. In fact, I was so unimpressed I almost didn’t climb it. But OMG I’m so glad I did. It turns out that the whole point of climbing the Temple is the amazing view you get from the top. It’s by far the best place in Walls of Jerusalem to get a photo of the actual walls! You can see all the eastern wall from Solomon’s Throne all the way to King David’s Peak.

To get to the top, follow the track northeast from the saddle at Damascus Gate. At times it looks like a master stonemason has been at work here, painstakingly moving the rocks into place to create a beautiful staircase through the scree and rubble. The track winds its way up to the summit. Along the way, you’ll crest a false summit. The photos of the central walls area are actually better from here. But continue onward for five more minutes to tag the peak, just to say you did.

The view from the summit of the Temple in Tasmania

The view from the summit of the Temple. You can see the intricate rock stairs on the track in the foreground. Solomon’s Throne and King David’s Peak are in the background

 

Mount Jerusalem

Starts from: Dixon’s Kingdom | Distance: 4.5km return | Elevation Gain: 185m | Difficulty: Moderate | Time: 1.5 hours return

The hike to Mount Jerusalem is longer and has more elevation gain than others in the park, but it’s actually quite easy thanks to the moderate grade of the climb. From the top you get a unique view to the southeast  of Tasmania’s Central Plateau spotted with what looks like a million tiny lakes. It’s a great contrast to the towering peaks of Walls of Jerusalem National Park.

From Dixon’s Kingdom, follow the track as it heads north and slightly uphill to a saddle called Jaffa Gate. From there, the track begins to climb up onto a ridge and passes several small tarns. After a short descent, the trail climbs a bit more steeply onto the shoulder of the peak. Follow the track up the long summit ridge before finally reaching a cairn at the peak. Be sure to explore the summit area as there are great vantage points in all directions. 

View from Mount Jerusalem in Tasmania, Australia

The view on the descent from Mount Jerusalem was incredible. The rocky mound is the Temple with King David’s Peak and Lake Salome in the background.

 

So there’s everything you need to plan your trip to Walls of Jerusalem, Tasmania. I really enjoyed my trip to this area. I had thought it would be a bit like the Cradle Mountain National Park since they are geographically close to each other. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Walls of Jerusalem has a beauty of its own thanks to the towering rock walls. And for me, the wilderness feel of the area was awesome compared to the slightly more luxurious experience you get with the huts on the Overland Track. Honestly, I’m glad I have now done both. Just don’t ask me to pick a favourite!! 

Do you have questions about hiking in Walls of Jerusalem National Park? Ask me in the comments as I’m always happy to help.

 

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