The Snowy Mountains is home to Australia’s highest peaks, most of its snow and some obscenely good times.
You can climb Mt Kosciuszko, check out historic huts, swim in thermal pools, ski out and camp in the backcountry, go bikepacking or even travel and camp by horse! While you’re there, it’s also worth exploring the history of the Walgal and Ngarigo Traditional Owners and the European occupation that followed.
Oh, I forgot to mention that it’s bee-ute-iful. Seriously, from the gnarled snow gums of the Jagungal Wilderness to the crisp azure of the glacial Blue Lake (we’re all out of glaciers but they left a sweet lake), the Snowy Mountains region offers an alpine experience like no other.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Snowies are only for snow either. The hiking, mountain biking and trail running opportunities are as wide and varied as the plains themselves.
We’ve pulled together our favourite Snowy Mountains adventures to raise your inspiration and stoke to the stratosphere. Go on, pack the car and drive up!
Take A Long Pit Stop In Jindabyne
Most trips to the Snowy Mountains pass through the lakeside town of Jindabyne and involve bleary eyes and questionable burritos, wolfed down after hours on the road. But have you ever considered making it the destination?
These fellas used Jindabyne as a launching pad for all kinds of spontaneous adventures, bouldering, slacklining, bombing hills and even good old fashioned chillin’ by the lake. Mountain town vibes are on the agenda.
Hike The Main Range Track
This is a certified must-do. You’d be mental to pass up this well-formed trail that takes in some of Kosciuszko National Park’s best scenery; Blue Lake, the summit of Mt Kosciuszko and the headwaters of the famous Snowy River all pack into nearly 30km of overnight hiking that runs in a big loop. If you’ve only got time for a day trip there are a few variations that’ll get you to one of the features listed above.
In winter this hike requires snowshoes or cross-country skis but the alpine weather can be crazy at any time of year – don’t underestimate the Australian Alps!
Challenge: Hiking the 10 Highest Peaks in Australia
Visit A Backcountry Hut
Historic stockman’s huts dot the Snowy Mountains wilderness, like rustic wooden time capsules, they offer a glimpse into a forgotten world.
South of Kosciuszko, check out Cascades Hut in the Pilot Wilderness or if you’re in the north, turn up the romance at Valentine Hut. You can bikepack or even ski out to them if you’re game, just make sure you bring a tent, the huts are only for emergency use.
Mountain Biking In The Snowy Mountains Is All Time
Mountains and mountain bikes. Pretty easy fit right? The search for vert can take you all kinds of wacky places in the Snowies. First up, you can’t go pass Thredbo for your downhill fix (feat. chairlifts) and their huge network of cross-country trails to dig your tread into.
Once your shakedown’s complete, head to the Jagungal Wilderness for a bikepacking odyssey checking out the huts that dot the high plains. Oh shit, you came in winter? No stress, just fatbike the Main Range like these guys!
Backcountry Skiing and Splitboarding
OK, I’ll stop beating around the Bogong Daisy-bush – the Snowy Mountains is an absolutely prime locale for snowsports. Sure you can fork out hundreds of dollars at the resorts and squeeze in 30 shoulder-to-shoulder runs with the Milo kids, but is it worth just one fresh hill alone with your mates in the backcountry?
First Timer? Read This: Tips For Your First Winter Trip Into The Backcountry (From Someone Who’s Been There)
Have A Crack At Ice Climbing
Did you know there’s ice climbing in Australia? It’s just a skerrick and you’ll have to enjoy the sight of water running between the wall and the frozen sheet you’ve dug your axe into, but it counts. Check out these wild adventures from Blue Lake and Watsons Crag for a truly unique Australian alpine adventure.
Explore The North
The northern end of the Snowy Mountains has pockets of proper wilderness that feel years away from the resort rat race. You can explore the Jagungal Wilderness and try for a summit of the mysterious Mt Jagungal or head further north to swim and camp at the stunning Blue Waterholes.
The gnarled limestone of Yarrangobilly Caves in the northern part of Kosciusko National Park are kind of essential viewing. Time moves a little slower here, so slow in fact that horse camping is actually a thing. Your chance to become the bloke or sheila from Snowy River has arrived.
Feature image by Xavier Anderson