An Overnight Hike Up Victoria’s Highest Mountain, Mount Bogong

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Sitting at 1986m tall, Mount Bogong is the most majestic of all mountains in Victoria. It can be conquered as a challenging 6-10 hour, 16km day hike or a (still pretty challenging) 20km circuit with a night spent sleeping under the stars.

In addition to great walking, Bogong is located in the Victorian Alps, meaning it’s a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding in the winter and mountain biking the rest of the year, when the weather permits.

To enjoy all that Victoria’s highest mountain has to offer (without experiencing symptoms of a mild heart attack), hiking it over two days and one night is a much more civilised and fun option. You’re rewarded with time to take in the stunning alpine views and have the privilege of watching the sun set (and rise) atop Victoria’s highest point. As far as domestic bucket lists go, hiking Mount Bogong should be on it.

There are a few different ways to do an overnight hike up Mount Bogong which I shall go into in more detail a little later in this post. However I would highly recommend heading up the steep and aptly named Staircase Spur and down the easier-on-the-knees Eskdale Spur, looping back to the starting point of the hike, the Mountain Creek camping area.

Mount Bogong will push you, test you but most importantly, stay with you as no doubt one of the most memorable hikes you’ll ever experience in Victoria!

Getting to Mount Bogong & starting the walk

Mount Bogong is 374km away from Melbourne which takes about 4.5 – 5 hours to drive.

That being said, it is quite hard to squeeze in an overnight hike for a weekend unless you leave on a Friday. You essentially have two options for staying the night near the start of the Bogong Summit Trail.

The first is camping at the start of the trail at the Mountain Creek Campground in either a tent or campervan. Alternatively, you could book accommodation in the nearby town of Mount Beauty and drive 12 minutes to the Mountain Creek Campground in the morning to leave your car and begin the summit.

It is advised to start the walk early in the morning to avoid the heat in summer and ending up walking in the dark and frost/ice which can form in winter.

Accommodation at Mount Beauty

Allamar Motel
grounds of a motel in mount beauty

Offering scenic surroundings and well above average facilities and comfort for a motel, Allamar is a great mid-range option for one night. From $155AUD per night.

Snow Gum Motel
snowgum motel in Mount Beauty

For a clean and comfortable place to crash, Snow Gum Motel is a cheap accommodation option with a seasonal outdoor pool and BBQs. From $125 per night.

Dreamers Chalet

Complete with a spa bath and a private balcony with mountain views, this cosy property is a real treat before or after a big, tiring hike. From $350 per night.

Mount Bogong circuit hiking routes

Plateau of Staircase spur near the summit

As mentioned, there are many routes you can take to reach the summit of Mount Bogong, each differing in terms of length, difficulty, accessibility and scenery.

However if you do not have a 4×4 vehicle and want to experience the full overnight hike, you essentially have two options – Staircase Spur and Eskdale Spur.

A map of the Mount Bogong Summit Circuit trail (minus the optional 4km Cleve Cole Hut campground out-and-back hike)

Up Staircase Spur (down Eskdale Spur)

  • 6km, direct to summit
  • Roughly 4 hours to top
  • Popular with day hikers
  • The most strenuous route
  • Better views/viewpoints

The most popular, direct and undoubtedly the most challenging route is by powering up the steep 6km Staircase Spur route. The scenery, stunning viewpoints and intriguing rock formations offer great compensation for the leg burning and heart pounding.

The hike to the Staircase Spur trail can begin from the Mountain Creek Campground/car park where you’ll walk up a 2km long dirt vehicle track first, before joining the upward trail to your right through the Peppermint Gum forest.

Alternatively you can drive up this dirt road and park beside the start of the Staircase Spur track. Skipping trudging 2km on the way back on a fairly boring fire track may just be the saving grace you need! We left our van at the Mountain Creek Campground and regretted it (especially when the last 2km on the dirt track gave me blisters and never seemed to end!!)

The steep walk through the shaded and pretty forest breaks about half way (3km from the summit) upon reaching the first shelter, Bivouac Hut. We somehow made a great pace, reaching Bivouac Hut in a touch over 2 hours from the start of the Staircase Spur Trail head.

Bivouac Hut offered a very welcome resting place and grassy lunch spot. To the back of the hut there is a water tank to refill any bottles (you’ll need to filter it or use purification tablets). It’s also amazing to simply splash your face with icy cold water.

After lunch, the real elevation gain commences. The terrain changes – you now walk through alpine Snow Gums and some occasional scrambling is required up the big rock ridge until you reach the summit plateau. From Bivouac Hut, it took us 1.5 hours to reach the summit of Mount Bogong.

Overall you should allow roughly 4 hours to hike up the Staircase Spur to the top of Bogong, plus the additional distance to then reach your desired camp spot.

Returning down the pretty and mainly shaded Eskdale Spur the next day took us 3.5 hours (walking fast with no stop for lunch). 

Overall you should expect 8-10 hours of hiking across both days.

The plateau on the ridge, offering a welcome (and rare) flat section, about 250m from the top of Mount Bogong
Returning along the ridgeline of Eskdale Spur on day 2

Up Eskdale Spur (down Staircase Spur)

  • Roughly 3 – 3.5 hours to the top
  • Pretty wildflowers and more interesting vegetation
  • Less viewpoints until you get the clearing at the top
  • No steps, windy dirt trail

The other alternative is doing the circuit the other way around, hiking up Eskdale Spur first. It starts with a fairly long slog of road hiking continuing past the Staircase Spur Trailhead up to Camp Creek Gap.

Alternatively if you have a 4WD you can drive up Camp Creek Gap but you’ll only have to do it at the other end for a circuit making the return hike longer. Otherwise you can leave your car outside the Staircase Spur Trail for when you return. 

On Eskdale Spur Trailhead, you can reach Mitchell Hut, a great resting point for lunch, in about 1.5 – 2 hours (or from Mountain Creek in 3 hours). From there, roughly another hour or so will take you to the summit.

This is a much more gradual, steady route, winding uphill through lovely changing vegetation and forest before a very steep ascent up a rocky ridge. Turn right at the top to reach the summit of Bogong.

There are no rocky steps here (it’s a zig-zagging stone and dirt trail all the way). That means on day two you’ll therefore head down the steep steps of Staircase Spur. Personally, I find going down a steeper route of steps harder on the knees/legs so I prefer to go up them.

What it’s like at the top of Mount Bogong

The top of Mount Bogong is very open, exposed and carpeted in low-lying spiky alpine grass and heath.

To be honest, I felt like I was more on top of a large hill as opposed to a mountain, but on a clear day it offers great views of the Alpine National Park such as of Mount Feathertop and Mount Hotham. You can really see how the undulating, rolling hills at the top would offer fantastic skiing in the winter.

At the top we even spotted a wind surfer enjoying catching the gentle gusts of wind, gliding back and forth and dramatically swooping down to us as we watched – the show off!

If you’ve been to Scotland or Yorkshire then the terrain at the top of Mount Bogong is reminiscent of the heather-carpeted Moors or highlands!

rock monument at the top of Mount Bogong
a paraglider at the top of mount bogong

Camp Spots on Mount Bogong

There are three huts on the Mount Bogong Summit trail. They offer emergency shelter, a resting point for lunch, drop toilets, water and flat clearings for camping.

So long as you’re a responsible camper, you can of course pitch a tent elsewhere on the mountain, and not necessarily at the site of a hut.

As it was such a clear, still and sunny weekend, we considered pitching a tent at the top of Mount Bogong to stargaze. However being so exposed, we were concerned about wind picking up in the night or getting too cold. Conditions change rapidly at the top of Bogong so it is best not to risk it and instead camp somewhere with some treeline protection (though of course not directly under trees).

– Bivouac Hut

This small hut is roughly half way on Staircase Spur with areas of flat grass to camp. However it’s not big and is better suited as a place for lunch or emergency camping only.

– Cleve Cole Hut

This extremely pretty and well-equipped stone hut is widely regarded as one of the best in the High Country.  Inside there is a sink, log burning stove, platforms for sleeping and interesting historic memorabilia all over the walls.

Outside the Cleve Cole Hut is absolutely ample flat space for camping, surrounded by the most beautiful low-lying vegetation. Approaching it in my tired state, and along with all the wildflowers, was dream-like!

From the summit of Mount Bogong you head South (which is right along the ridgeline). The downside is that Cleve Cole Hut adds on an additional 4km (1 – 1.5 hours) of walking (and onto the next day too as it is an out-and-back trail). Although a tiring final slog, in my opinion, the campsite makes it worth it!

outside of Cleve Cole refuge hut
The outside of Cleve Cole Hut
Leaving Cleve Cole Hut through ‘ghost trees’ and low-lying vegetation

– Mitchell Hut

Located on Eskdale Spur, Mitchell Hut is not too dissimilar from Bivouac Hut in the sense that there is limited space surrounding it for camping. There are however a few small, slightly hidden clearings before the hut, as well as some space right beside it.

The advantage is that if you’ve gone up Staircase Spur, it is downhill on part of the return route from the Summit of Mount Bogong. Therefore it is much shorter (and easier) than heading to Cleve Cole Hut for the night, and shaves off a little bit of time from the next day’s hike.

If you’re heading up Eskdale Spur, Mitchell Hut offers a good resting point for lunch.

As always, these huts are for emergency use only and you should not plan to sleep in them. Instead you should bring your own camping equipment and sufficiently warm sleeping attire.

Essential things to bring

girl standing on a rock with a mountain backdrop in the Alpine National Park
A viewpoint on Staircase Spur a few hundred metres from the summit

Always be up-to-date with the weather and prepared for all conditions you may face on the long and exposed hike of the Bogong Summit Trail. The conditions can change rapidly without warning (and of course differ from the bottom of the mountain to the top). 

Many skiers and hikers have lost their lives in sudden adverse weather conditions such as storms and avalanches. You even hike past memorials, and huts such as Cleve Cole were built in memory of those who passed away on the route.

In addition to thoroughly checking the conditions, here are just a few essential items you should bring on your overnight hike up Mount Bogong:

  • Good walking/hiking boots
  • Lightweight comfortable shoes (so you can take off your hiking boots at the end of the day)
  • Blister plasters
  • A water bladder within your pack (so you don’t have to carry or keep stopping to drink out of a bottle)
  • Gaiters (snake and bush-bashing protection for your lower legs)
  • A map or GPS download of the trail
  • A lightweight hiking chair (you’ll be grateful to put your legs up after the first day I can assure you!)
  • A first aid kit – including a snake bite kit, ibuprofen, rehydration salts etc
  • Water purifying tablets
  • Sun protection – sunscreen, hat, sunglasses etc
  • Winter gear (if applicable) – sleeping bag liner, minimum zero rated sleeping bag, thermal clothing etc
  • Waterproof jacket and pants
  • Cooking equipment (such as a Jet Boil), food and plenty of nutritional snacks
  • Matches/lighter

No matter how you tackle it, an overnight hike up Mount Bogong is one of the most rewarding walks and weekend trips you can do in Victoria and in my opinion, although hard, it’s one of the best hikes in Australia

Happy hiking!

Heading to Australia soon? Don’t forget these essentials!

Lonely Planet’s guide to Australia or Lonely Planet’s guide to Tasmania.

Got travel insurance? Make sure you’re covered for any unplanned situations. I use and would recommend World Nomads.

Organised your visa? Don’t forget to check the entry requirements for Australia on the government website for the passport you are travelling with.

Book your accommodation to Hobart or Launceston through Booking.com or Hotels.com.

To search and compare the best group tours and activities worldwide (with up to 50% off), use TourRadar.

For some travel inspiration for your next trip, how about Lonely Planet’s top 500 places to see… ranked?

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19 thoughts on “An Overnight Hike Up Victoria’s Highest Mountain, Mount Bogong”

  1. Wow impressive hike! It looks absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for including all the details on individual hikes and what to bring. Great information!

    Reply
  2. I hope tp hike mt. babong on my next victoria trip… and i’m so glad to know there are 3 shelters up there. Pinned & saved the blog to use for the next time i’m in vic!

    Reply
  3. This looks like an incredible hike. You’re packing list is right on. Thanks for all the tips. I hope to do this when I get to Australia.

    Reply
  4. Hi Tam,
    Beautiful blog on Mount Bogong, Australia.
    It seems a place worth visiting. Also loved the wonderful pictures. Can’t wait to see it!

    Reply
  5. This blog post was very helpful and provided great detail on how to conquer and navigate this hike. It may be too difficult for me on the first try, but I’ll save it for later once I’m more experienced at hiking. Great post!

    Reply
  6. Wow this looks like such an intense hike…definitely a big commitment. Such a great list of essentials as well.

    Reply
  7. Such a great guide on how to do this hike . Love that you added places to stay. The Dreamers look so cozy but expensive so a good ole motel will definitely do . I also love the list of hiking essentials.

    Reply
  8. Looks like a fun hike! I’ve never been to this part of the world before, but it looks like a place for me (us Norwegians love hiking). Thanks for your comprehensive post

    Reply

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