An ideal Snowy Mountains walk for sweeping views in Kosciuszko National Park. It winds beneath the craggy peaks of the Ramshead Range through remarkable scenery, including a forest of beautiful snow gums, open herb fields and alpine heath.
Via Thredbo River Track & Merritts Nature Track
Thredbo, Australian Alps NSW
Day Hike – 10 to 14km
Thredbo River Track to Dead Horse Gap Hike to Kosciuszko Express Chair Lift Terminal at Thredbo Top Station is 10km. You have the option to call it a day here and descend in Chair Lift or continue walking to Thredbo Village via Merritts Nature Track, a steep stepped 4km walk for a total of 14km.
This is one of the best walks in the area. You can make this walk easier if you ascend the Kosciuszko Express Chair lift at 9am and commence the walk from the top of Thredbo Top Station. Look for the Dead Horse Gap Track on your left, clearly signposted on the Mt Kosciuszko Summit Trail, and begin your traverse of the Ramshead Range. In the distant skyline you will see a pole, the track’s highest point, and then it’s all downhill from there. Keep on the track to the tree line, passing magnificent gnarly tri-coloured trunks of the sub-alpine snow gums as you follow the ridge down to Dead Horse Gap. If you are lucky, you may see wild horses, brumbies, amidst the dense tree cover. Once fully descended, you join the Thredbo River Track and walk alongside the river, past the golf course before returning to Thredbo Village.
Of course, we were feeling fit and energetic and walked it in the opposite direction. We left early as there was no need to wait for the first 9.00am chair lift ride to Top Station, but this meant our Dead Horse Gap Track was a steady uphill climb. Elevation is minimal in Australia but for Sydneysiders the terrain here required acclimatization. We are fit but we did huff and puff getting up this slope aided by gentle switchback paths.
As we stopped to get our breath back, I enjoyed admiring the captivating scenery – snow gums, boulders, petrified trees, and a variety of colourful yellow, purple, pink and white wildflowers.
Suitable for most ages and abilities. This grade can include short steep sections up to 20kms. Thredbo Information Centre rates all the walks mentioned in this post Grade 3. For less energetic walkers and for families with small children, I recommend the easier downhill route. Catch the Chairlift when it opens at 9.00am from the Valley Terminal to Top Station.
A dirt path the entire way, except a small section of paved walkway near Kosciuszko Express Chairlift’s Top Station at Eagles Nest Restaurant.
What to bring
Even in summer, come prepared for inclement weather. It is significantly cooler at elevation, and weather can change rapidly. Bring a rain jacket which can also act as a wind jacket, rain pants, a light fleece, first aid kit, sunscreen, enough water (min. 1 litre for every 6kms walked) or water treatment solution if sourcing water from mountain streams, and adequate food for energy. I often carry electrolyte tablets as well to add to water to replace salts lost with sweat if the walk is hot and/or strenuous.
Thredbo River Track – Part 1
Dead Horse Gap Track – Part 2
Merritts Nature Track – Part 3
From Eagles Nest Restaurant take the right path leading beneath the chair lift. Shortly afterwards you see a signpost, coloured lavender, pointing to the start of Merritts Nature Track. It is a winding track which occasionally passes the mountain bike tracks so look out for mad mountain bikers before you cross the distinct biking dirt tracks. A steep stepped path exists for most of this track.
I loved carefully running down the slope, but if you have knee or hip issues, trekking poles may help. Alternatively, if you do not want to take the chair lift to Thredbo Village, I recommend you take an alternative route, like Merritts Traverse, a Grade 3 5km dirt bike maintenance road which will be more forgiving on your joints. What I enjoyed about Merritts Nature Track is the abundance of wildflowers, variety of gums and the pleasing sound of a babbling stream for most of the way.
Meadows Nature Track – Wrong way
I must warn you that near the bottom of Merritts Nature Track the signposting becomes confusing. I saw an arrow clearly pointing right up a grassy ski slope and I followed it. Knowing I was way ahead of my walking partners who sensibly avoiding running down the path, I waited at the top of the grassy slope to direct them towards me when they emerged from the forest, but they never appeared.
I knew I was fast, but not that fast. I gave them a few more minutes before panic set in and I envisaged the worst. With no phone reception, had they been trying to contact me? I best investigate. Lo-and-behold I discover I am on Meadows Nature Track, not Merritts Nature Track, which now shows me the correct path marker in the direction I should have gone in the first place.
The closest town to Mt Kosciuszko is Thredbo, a 5.5-hour 500km drive from Sydney. You can find accommodation in Thredbo at hotels or at lodges if members can invite guests. There are also two camp sites, Ngarigo and Thredbo Diggings Campgrounds, both a short distance from Thredbo, but rumoured to be windy. For cheaper motel or flat accommodation you can stay in Jindabyne, a half hour’s drive away. You can find basic amenities in both towns including supermarkets, petrol stations, chemists, clothes shops, hiking, biking, and skiing gear, and restaurants and cafes.
Visit www.thredbo.com.au to find out what’s on in Thredbo when you arrive, location of restaurants and retail outlets, recreation activities available (hiking and mountain biking in summer and skiing in winter), how to secure summer lift passes for scenic passengers on Kosciuszko Express Chairlift to the start of the Kosciuszko Summit and Main Range walks or to descend to Thredbo Village from Dead Horse Gap track, pick up maps for self-guided walks and book guided walks if desired.
I loved the captivating snow gums to admire and shelter beneath on some nice rounded boulders. Wildflowers were plentiful and the views from Ramshead Traverse were expansive for miles in every direction. The weather, with minimal wind and plenty of sunshine, was ideal.