Our Explorer, Kate, and her four-legged companion, Bowie, are section-hiking the dog-friendly parts of the Hume & Hovell Track, and sharing their trail notes with us along the way.


We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which this adventure takes place who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants, for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Quick Overview

The Hume & Hovell track is a 425km thru-hike in New South Wales that extends from Yass to Albury. Passing through State Forest, multiple sections of this trail are suitable for an overnight or even multi-day hike with your dog.

The section of the Hume and Hovell I’ve chosen to walk with Bowie extends from Paddys River Dam to Buddong Hut. It’s a 28km return, grade 3 overnight hike.

Read more: 4 Thru Hikes in Australia

About the Hume & Hovell Track

A victim of the January 2020 NSW bushfires, Bago State Forest is flourishing as it regenerates. After extensive track maintenance operations, the track is now in tip-top shape with new marker posts, bridges, and boardwalks replacing those damaged by the fires.

This particular section of the Hume and Hovell starts at Paddy’s River Dam, a hidden oasis located deep within the native alpine ash forest of the Bago Plateau. Consisting of a mixture of single tracks, old 4WD tracks, and dirt roads, the trail lacks the expansive views of the nearby Kosciuszko National Park, but makes up for it with gorgeous subalpine woodland.

Camp at the historic Buddong Hut, a classic high-country hut with a rustic tin roof, and weathered timber walls. It has the perfect veranda for drinking a cup of tea, listening to the nearby creek, and enjoying the company of your favourite companion – your dog.


Overnight Hiking With My Dog on the Hume & Hovell Track, Kate Donald, Dog, Hut, Buddong Hut, hiking tent, NSW

Hume & Hovell Track History

The Hume & Hovell track roughly follows the route explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell took on their expedition to Port Phillip in 1824. Construction of the trail began in the 1980’s, and most of the walking track has been laid out less than 5km from the original route taken by Hume and Hovell. The trail was completed in 1999.

Bago State Forest was once famous for its Sugar Pine Walk but sadly the almost 100-year-old pine forest was lost in the 2020 bushfires. Before you remove Bago State Forest from your to-hike list though, the NSW Government recently released a master plan detailing extensive planned upgrades including new walking trails, sculptures, and restoration projects.

How to Get to the Hume & Hovell Track

In the heart of Bago State Forest, the trailhead is about 40 minutes north-east from Tumbarumba, in the Snowy Valleys Region. The drive to the trailhead from Canberra takes approximately 3.5 hours, passing through some stunning countryside. Although long, it was smooth sailing, right up until we turned into Bago State Forest.

Without a drop of phone service, my focus was split between searching for dusty old signs for direction, and avoiding the ditches and huge potholes in the gravel road. Glancing at my useless co-pilot, with his tongue out, ears flapping, and almost his entire body hanging out the window, I was reminded that this was all part of the adventure.

Note: Make sure to check the forestry corporation website for any road access updates prior to leaving as harvesting operations and winter closures may be in place.

Where to Stay on the Hume & Hovell Track

I walked the trail as a return overnight trip, leaving my car at Paddys River Dam, camping at Buddong Hut, and returning to Paddys River Dam the next day. I highly recommend staying a night at Paddys River Dam prior to setting out on this hike, as it’s a truly magical spot to camp.

For those wanting to embark on a longer adventure, this dog friendly section does extend an additional 18km from Paddys River Dam to Charcoal Gap Road. Just remember to factor in your doggos fitness levels!


Overnight Hiking With My Dog on the Hume & Hovell Track, Kate Donald, Dog, selfie, happy, smiling, dog hiking pack,NSW

Distance / Duration

28km (return) / 2 days

Skill Level


The grade 3-4, intermediate trail is well made, with plenty of boardwalks and bridges to avoid wet feet. Maintaining such an extensive trail like the Hume and Hovell is unsurprisingly a big task, so expect some overgrown areas and the odd fallen tree across the track – especially following winter.

There’s little to no phone service along this entire route, so make sure that you have access to maps of not just the trail, but the roads in and out of the forest too, A form of emergency communication such as a PLB or satellite phone is also a good idea.

What It’s Like Hiking the Hume & Hovell Track

When we arrived at Paddys River Dam, the start of the trail was immediately obvious. It’s marked by a funny little red and white sign featuring two men in explorer hats – presumably meant to resemble Hume and Hovell – and an arrow to point us in the right direction. Winding around the dam on a mix of single track and boardwalks, we were in trail heaven.


Overnight Hiking With My Dog on the Hume & Hovell Track, Kate Donald, Dog, portrait, hiking pack, sleeping mat, NSW


But before we had even reached the other side of the lake, we had our first encounter with wildlife. Bowie had never really had much contact with farm animals, so when I spotted a couple of feral horses grazing up ahead, I wasn’t sure what type of response to expect from my dog. Thankfully, before he even registered their existence, the horses had galloped off into the bushes, leaving my ignorant pooch and I behind.

The path we’d been following abruptly ended at a forest road. With a breadcrumb trail of markers indicating to continue along the road, we stretched out our legs and soon found our stride on the wide dirt path. Just as the scenery was starting to get a little dull, we hit a junction and stepped back onto the slightly overgrown – yet very well marked – track.

The weather was starting to warm up, morphing slowly into a lovely winter’s day. Recent rainfall meant that there were plenty of puddles for Bowie to drink, cool off, and splash around in. With signs marking ‘1080 bait’ in the area, and a couple more feral horse sightings, I kept him close to my side as we continued through the forest.

Later, we hit an overgrown 4WD track, and dropped down into the gorgeous Buddong Creek. Standing above the chasm, with the fast-flowing water beneath, Bowie stood with his tail between his legs, paws stubbornly planted to the ground – he wasn’t moving! With my pack on my back, and 23kg of reluctant fluff in my arms, I carefully made my way across the bridge and safely to the other side of the creek, making a mental note to add ‘crossing bridges’ to our dog training list.

Stopping to smell all the new smells of the forest, it was heartwarming to see my dog enjoy hiking as much as I do. Something I didn’t anticipate was just how much slower hiking would turn out to be with a dog.

As the sky began to darken, we picked up the pace, wanting to get to camp before dark. After what felt like forever, I spotted Buddong Hut on the opposite side of the creek. Crossing a much more manageable (read: wider) bridge, we quickly set up camp.


Overnight Hiking With My Dog on the Hume & Hovell Track, Kate Donald, Dog, portrait, tent, dog in hut, dog camping, NSW


Being car-accessible, there wasn’t much to choose from in terms of tent sites, but we found a small patch of lush grass and called it home for the night. Just as we had finished setting up, the skies opened and it began to pour.

I quickly realised I’d stupidly forgotten a towel to dry off Bowie’s now muddy feet. Watching his little brown paw prints appear on everything he touched as he strode around the tiny tent, I prayed to the gear-gods that my sleeping bag and mat would survive this trip.

Tired from a day filled with adventure, with my sidekick curled up beside me on a foam mat, I almost fell asleep before I’d finished eating my dinner. As the temperature dropped, I threw my puffer jacket over Bowie as he nestled in closer for warmth. We fell asleep to the sound of the rain easing into a few sporadic drops on the roof of the tent.


Overnight Hiking With My Dog on the Hume & Hovell Track, Kate Donald, Dog, portrait, tent, dog in tent, dog camping, NSW

Essential Gear for Overnight Hiking with a Dog

  • Dog lead
  • Towel
  • Dog mat
  • Collapsible dog bowl
  • Extra treats and dog food
  • Trowel or poop bags
  • Dog blanket or jacket
  • First aid kit
  • Additional first aid items for dogs (bandage, saline flush, gauze, tweezers)

Tips for Hiking the Hume & Hovell Track

Although tempting, the nearby Buddong Falls is in Kosciuszko National Park and not Bago State Forest, therefore it is not a dog-friendly destination. I can vouch it is a spectacular location, and worth a visit on a separate trip without your pup in tow.

FAQs Hiking the Hume & Hovell Track

When is the best time to hike the Hume & Hovell Track?

The Hume & Hovell is a great hike to enjoy year-round. Just be mindful that the track may be less well maintained after winter.

Is the Hume & Hovell Track good for beginners?

The track is well maintained but reception is patchy, it’s remote, and as an overnight trip, it’s more suited to experienced hikers.

How long is the Hume & Hovell Track?

The full length of the Hume & Hovell Track is 425km. The section that I walked with Bowie between Paddys River Dam and Buddong Hut was 14km long, 28km because I walked there and back.

How long does it take to complete the Hume & Hovell Track?

I haven’t walked the full 425km length of the Hume & Hovell Track but the section between Paddys River Dam and Buddong Hut was comfortably achieved in two days. You could do it faster, but it depends on your fitness and the ability of your four legged companion. If anything, I’d recommend slowing down to enjoy the environment.

Is it free to hike the Hume & Hovell Track?

Yes, it is free to hike the Hume & Hovell Track.

Is water available on the Hume & Hovell Track?

Yes. Water is available at every campsite on the Hume & Hovell Track from either a tank, creek or dam. Remember to treat all water before drinking.