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This hike is epic. Only two hours to the summit and you feel like you’re on top of the world. Tucked away in the Alpine National Park, the hike to the summit of Mt Cobbler is a serious hidden gem!
We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Yorta Yorta, Taungurung, Bpangerang, Waywurru Nation, the traditional Countries of the Yorta Yorta, Taungurung, Bpangerang, Waywurru people who have occupied and cared for these lands for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
- Stargazing at an alpine lake
- Panoramic sunrise views over the King Valley and Victorian Alps at the summit
- Option to camp closer to the summit
Wangaratta to Lake Cobbler
It’s a bumpy ride into Lake Cobbler. Seriously, take a 4WD. We kooked it and took a Corolla which copped a bit of damage (sorry Tim).
It’s a 2.5 hour drive from Dirrawarra / Wangaratta and almost 5 hours from Melbourne.
We arrived at Lake Cobbler in the afternoon and set up camp by the edge. Make sure to pick up a bag of firewood (and a bottle of wine) from town before you head out. We sat by the fire stargazing and drinking wine into the night. A definite highlight was watching the stars in the lake’s reflection.
Pre-Dawn Hike to the Summit
We got up at 4.30am with mild wine regret, and hit the track to reach the summit for sunrise. Head torches strapped to noggins, we headed to the beginning of the Mt Cobbler trail to the left of the Lake Cobbler Hut and began the slog up the hill.
The trail to the summit is only 4km but it took us the whole recommended two hours to get to the top in the dark. There are a lot of loose stones and fallen logs so I was focusing on my steps most of the way.
Early on you rock hop across a river which we found a bit tricky to navigate in the dark, but there’s a clear path to the left once you make it over. Trees are marked with reflective arrows along the way, so if you get lost just track back and look out for these.
As soon as we reached the top, the sun appeared as a glowing red ball over the horizon. It was insane. The whole team was running around like headless chooks trying to take pictures while it lasted.
Collectively we’ve seen a lot of sunrises, and this one surprised us all. The summit of Mt Cobbler is relatively bare and rocky, allowing views in almost every direction. To the north there are some pretty spectacular views back over the King Valley.
There’s a higher point of the summit separated by a small chasm which requires a bit of a sketchy scramble to get over to. If you don’t have the right gear or friends to help you climb up, it’s probably best to stay on the mainland (I was pooped and am a notoriously clumsy human being who’d likely plummet off the edge if I tried, so I stayed put).
Option to Camp Near the Summit
If you don’t want to wake up at 4.30am to catch the sunrise, there’s another campground just an 800m walk down from the summit. It’s one of the only flat and clear spots on the entire hike and would mean just a 30 minute walk to the summit come morning. There’s a fire pit and the clearing would easily fit five to six small tents.
At this near-summit campsite we were delighted to find some firewood that some poor soul had hauled up there at one point. We got a fire going and had some well-deserved coffee and breakfast.
Read more: Remember to leave no trace!
Back Down We Go
Even though we took the same route back down, it seemed like a whole new experience in the daylight. The young eucalyptus trees along the trail filled the air with the most delicious minty aroma!
Crossing the river was also a lot more exciting, as now we could see the beautiful gorge and stream. We filled up our bottles and all felt pretty refreshed by the time we reached Lake Cobbler again.
A drop toilet is the only amenity at the site
Snowfall can be experienced during the colder months at Mount Cobbler
- Firewood (and fire starter, it’s too damp near the lake to find good dry kindling)
- Toilet paper
- Water or purifying tablets (there’s a great stream 10 minutes along the hike to fill up)
- Warm sleeping bag
- Hiking shoes
- Head torch
- Hiking stove & coffee supplies
- First aid kit
- Sat phone or PLB (no reception although some of us had service at the summit!)
- Hiking tent
- Alpine National Park map or topographic map
How To Get There
Lake Cobbler is a 2.5 hour drive from Wangaratta via Cheshunt and through the King Valley.
The trailhead for the Mt Cobbler Walking Track starts to the left of the Lake Cobbler hut.
The track is a decent incline most of the way with some navigation skills necessary.
Distance Covered / Duration / Elevation Gain
8km return / 4 hours solid walking or 6 hours with photo and coffee time at the top / 523m
Mt Cobbler summit rises to 1,628 metres (5,341 ft) above sea level
Why not make it a whole week in Wangaratta? There’s plenty more to explore across this stunning region. Dig in!