Mount Kosciuszko is Australia’s highest peak, at 2,228 metres high. Ready to breathe in that fresh alpine air? Here’s everything you need to know about taking on the Mount Kosciuszko hike.


Quick Overview

The Thredbo to Mount Kosciuszko walk is a 13km return, grade 4 hike located in the Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales. The hike should take around 4-5 hours to complete if you don’t take the chairlift ride.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Ngarigo Nation, the traditional land of the Ngarigo people who have occupied and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


  • Multiple routes to choose from to get to the top of Mt Kosciuszko, all with no technical climbing experience needed
  • Admire Lake Cootapatamba, an alpine lake that was once a glacier
  • Frolic among alpine wildflowers in Kosciuszko National Park
  • Tackle this country’s highest mountain and see where the Ngarigo and other Aboriginal People have been meeting for thousands of years
  • Dip your toes in the clear waters of the Snowy River
  • Visit Australia’s highest restaurant AND highest toilets, nestled deep in Kosciuszko National Park
  • Claim bragging rights to summiting Australia’s highest mountain, the summit of Mt Kosciuszko

Walking Tracks to the Summit of Mt Kosciuszko

In winter, Kosciuszko National Park is a popular ski resort. But in summer, it’s a hikers paradise.

There are four main ways to walk to the top of Mt Kosciuszko. First up there’s the Mount Kosciuszko Summit Walk from Charlotte Pass via Seaman’s Hut, one of the areas many historic huts.

The Mount Kosciuszko summit walk is 18.6km and probably the least interesting route, although you do get spectacular views of Kosciuszko National Park in all its alpine glory. The track crosses the majestic Snowy River with plenty of rocky granite outcrops to admire along the way. The Mount Kosciuszko summit walk can also be fun for cyclists as you can take your bike most of the way.

Second, there’s the Main Range track from Charlotte Pass (a 22km loop passing beautiful Blue Lake, Club Lake and Lake Albina). The Main Range Walk loop track is often done as an overnight walk, camping somewhere along the way.

For the experienced hikers out there, there is the 15km Hannels Spur Track, which was the original route Strzelecki (who named the mountains) hiked in 1840. The Hannel Spur track is often very overgrown, and lays claim to Australia’s tallest vertical climb with a whopping 1,800m of up, up, up. I’m getting tired just writing about it. Zzzzz.

But the most popular Mount Kosciuszko walk goes from Thredbo resort. It’s an achievable 13km return to the top of Mount Kosciuszko but the main difference is that it includes a fun chairlift ride. There are also stunning views of Cootapatamba Lake. This particular Mount Kosciuszko Walk is the best option for families or if you’re trying to convince your not-so-outdoorsy friends to get into hiking.

Let’s explore this most popular route to the Mount Kosciuszko summit in more detail…

Kosciuszko Walk – Thredbo to Mount Kosciuszko Summit Walk

With a chairlift pass ready to go, head to the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift (or Snowgums chair if Kosciuszko is under maintenance) and enjoy a fantastic ride over the Thredbo cross country ski runs, admiring the mountain bikers zooming below making the most of the warmer months.



At the top, you have the chance for a snack break at Australia’s highest restaurant, Eagles Nest Restaurant, before walking through the Basin ski area, where the track starts. With the weathered snow gums and stunning alpine ecosystem spread out below, it’s easy to see why Kosciuszko National Park is a must-visit destination.


As you wind your way up the hill, you’ll notice the river, waterfalls, boggy areas full of native heath and damp ponds surrounded by moss. Watch out for the delicate sphagnum moss as it takes a long time to recover and is an important habitat for frogs, including the critically endangered Southern Corroboree frog.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

Keep going, all the way to the lookout where you’ll get your first glimpse of Mt Kosciuszko and a few of the other highest peaks in Kosciuszko National Park, including Carruthers Peak, Etheridge Range, Mt Twynam, and North Ramshead.


Aboriginal people have been coming to the Snowy Mountains for thousands of years, particularly in spring to feast on the Bogong moth. The majestic boulders you see on this walk are called granite tors and are a favourite hiding place for these moths and other native insects.

Up the steps and you’re at Cootapatamba lookout, where you can see one of the alpine lakes, called Lake Cootapatamba.

Lake Cootapatamba used to be a glacier and if you have good eyes you can also spot the red Cootapatamba hut down the valley – it’s an emergency shelter hut for when ski tourers get lost, exhausted or when the weather turns nasty.


Australia’s Highest Public Toilet

No matter what popular walking track you take to the summit, you’ll cross Rawson Pass at some point and experience the sheer, unadulterated joy of using Australia’s highest toilets. Toilets on a bushwalk? Now that’s what we call luxury.

From the loos at Rawson Pass, tackle the last 1.6km in a circle to the top and you’ll reach the summit of 2,228m.


A photo at the rock feature at the top is an absolute must, as is having a spot of lunch while you enjoy the 360° views of the mountains, including the Snowy River, spread out below.

The summit gets busy, so aim for the early morning if you want more chance of having it to yourself.

Once you’ve enjoyed the breathtaking views at Australia’s highest point, head back the way you came and return downhill via the Mt Kosciuszko Express Chairlift.


Climb Preparation

Whatever Mt Kosciuszko walk you decide on, make sure you have the right gear. None of the routes are protected from the elements so take a good sun hat, to provide ample shade on the face and neck and help prevent sunburn in the summer.

Long sleeves and long trousers, made from breathable material are also recommended. Remember, you can also get burned in cold temperatures too so pack sunscreen and reapply often.

Essential Gear

  • Water
  • Lunch and snacks
  • Rain jacket
  • Warm layers including beanie and gloves – it’s frequently cold and windy and the weather changes rapidly in the mountains!
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen, SPF lip balm
  • Sunglasses – UV radiation is stronger at altitude
  • Camera
  • First aid kit


Take The Chairlift From Thredbo And Hike to The Summit of Mt Kosciuszko, Alex Parsons, Snowy Mountains, tors, wildflowers, alpine sunrays

Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration

  • Thredbo Chairlift to Mt Kosciuszko: 13km / 394m (not including chairlift ride) / 4-5 hours
  • Charlotte Pass to Mt Kosciuszko: 18.5km / 611m / 6 hours

How To Get There

From Jindabyne, follow Kosciuszko Road for 3km and turn left onto the Alpine Way. Thredbo is 33km along on the right. Make sure you have a National Parks Pass or buy one on the way up.

Find parking and head to Valley Terminal where the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift runs. If you’re planning to start from Charlotte Pass, you’ll be heading in the opposite direction from Thredbo and you’ll be able to park along the road (the car park is usually packed).

History of Mount Kosciuszko

Mount Kosciuszko is part of Australia’s Alps, and the Snowy Mountains – a huge mountains range that stretches across Australia.

At the top of Mt Kosciuszko, you’ll find a plaque explaining how Mt Kosciuszko got its current name. It was 1840 when the Polish explorer Paul Strzelecki ran about the hills and decided to name it after his hero General Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish-Lithuanian freedom fighter.

In the later decades, a mistake was made during mapping and Mount Townsend was declared the highest mountain for a while, causing plenty of confusion along the way. But Kosciuszko remains Australia’s highest mountain.

Despite the name, we know that Aboriginal people have been walking this alpine land for thousands of years, with some evidence they were visiting nearby areas 21,000 years ago. The Snowy Mountains are mostly considered Ngarigo country although other groups like the Walgalu are also recognised.

There’s a debate about what the Aboriginal name of Mt Kosciuszko should be, with two candidates being Kunama Namadgi and Tar-gan-gil. Either way, it’s important to reflect on how ancient these mountains are and remember the original custodians that have walked the earth long before white folk arrived.

Kosciuszko National Park Information

Kosciuszko National Park requires entry fees to be paid year-round. From the start of June long weekend to end of October long weekend it currently costs $29 per vehicle per day (24hrs); motorcycles $12; bus passengers $11.45 per adult, $3.60 per child per day (24hrs).

For the rest of the year, including the summer hiking months, it costs per vehicle per day (24hrs); motorcycles ; bus passengers .60 per adult, .20 per child per day (24hrs).

Where to Stay in the Snowy Mountains?

The most suitable places in the Snowy Mountains for climbing Mount Kosciuszko are Jindabyne Thredbo or Perisher. There is also a resort at Charlotte Pass.

Jindabyne has the most options with campsites, hotels, lodges and backpackers. There are also lots of National Park campsites available throughout the Snowy Mountains and Kosciuszko national park.

Mount Kosciuszko Hike FAQs

How long does it take to walk up Mount Kosciuszko?

From the Thredbo chairlift to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko it’s 13km and will take around 4-5 hours.

If you want to make it a bit more challenging, you can skip the chairlift and walk up the 4km Merritts Nature Track from Thredbo Village.

This is steeper and more difficult though, so expect it to add an extra couple of hours to your total Mount Kosciuszko hike time.

If you’re walking in from Charlotte Pass to Mount Kosciuszko, you’re going to be tackling around 18.5km, and it takes the average person around 6 hours. Want to speed things up a bit? For any mad keen cyclists, you can take your bike on most of the trail from Charlotte Pass and then walk up to the summit from there.

Is Mount Kosciuszko easy climbing?

The routes from Charlotte Pass and Thredbo chairlift are both well maintained and marked, meaning no technical skills or scrambling is required. It’s a long walk though, and very steep in places, so good stamina and fitness are recommended.

We’re talking summer months too – if you’re headed there in winter, it’s a different story and should only be attempted if you have experience hiking and climbing in snowy conditions.

How hard is the walk to Mt Kosciuszko?

The walk from Thredbo is rated Grade 3 and the walk from Charlotte Pass, grade 4 (not sure what that means? Check this out).

It does depend on your level of fitness, experience, what the weather is like, and what route you take. But, if you have good general fitness the Mount Kosciuszko walk will be perfectly doable.

  • Beginner to Intermediate hike
  • The majority of the walk along this track is a raised metal walkway with the last couple of kilometres being a mix of stone and gravel
  • No navigation skills are required as there’s clear signage along the track. However, due to the alpine nature of the walk, being prepared for unpredictable and harsh weather is essential
  • Hiking in the Snowy Mountains should only be attempted between November and April due to increased snow through the winter months.

What’s the best time to climb?

November to March/early April is the best time to walk to the summit, as other seasons (spring and autumn) are more unpredictable, and the winter seasons often sees heavy snowfall.

Regardless of the season; always check the weather conditions before hiking. This is an alpine area and even in the height of summer, weather can change quickly.

Do not walk if snow, fog, heavy rains are forecast unless you have prior experience and navigation skills. Not sure? Head to the National Parks office in Jindabyne for advice and guidance. They’re a helpful bunch, we promise.

If you love flowers, Spring brings out stunning wildflowers including purple and white eyebrights, yellow billy buttons, marsh marigolds, silver snow daisies, alpine sunrays and more, although they start to disappear again in autumn.

Don’t forget! A winter adventure in the mountains is a different kettle of (frozen) fish. Add this walk to your spring adventure bucket list and always check the weather conditions before heading out.