Start - Off Coal Hill Rd
Length - 6.6km (Return)
Grade - Orange
Terrain - Single Track, Muddy Track
Vertical Climb - 206m
Time - 2-4 hours
Signed - Yes
Cost - National Park Fees Apply
Date Hiked - 30th October 2018
Best Time - All Year Round
Directions - Located two hours south of Hobart, take the Southern Outlet and then Huon Hwy until you reach the signs for Darcy Link turnoff. Follow this until you reach Creekton Rd and turn left. Follow this past Duckhole Lake and then turn right onto Coal Hill Rd. The car park is at the end of a slip road (watch for Adamson Falls sign).
The Hike - My dalliance with Southwest National Park continued after a lovely morning spent exploring Duckhole Lake. The next hike on the agenda was the 6.6km return journey to Adamsons Falls and back. I had considered doing Adamsons Peak but the description of the track mentioned quite a bit of muddy and boggy ground to get through. Without my gaiters or a way of thoroughly cleaning my clothes/boots I decided that the journey to the falls was a much better option. With the starting point just a hop and skip away from Duckhole Lake, it was a short drive to the end of the gravel road where the trail head is located. With a car already in the parking area I wouldn't be alone on this hike and packed up my bag to start another Tasmanian adventure.
The start of the trail was classically Tasmanian based off my experiences so far, a bit underwhelming but leading to something amazing. Adamsons Falls starts with a continuation of the gravel track you drove in on, just a bit muddier and also not open to vehicles anymore. The reason for the vehicle track is the start of this hike is through regrowth forest but luckily there are still a few examples of ancient trees that were left alone. The dominant forest here is made up of skinny trees trying to fight for sunlight and space so it definitely feels like a regrowth forest, further highlighted by the wide track. Muddy in places, you can see the efforts of people trying to avoid getting muddy boots so early but given how wide the track was becoming I did my bit for the environment and just walked up the middle.
With a lot of squelching I was secretly hoping that this was the worst of it and soon the hike would find itself on more enjoyable single track. My prayers were answered by the hiking gods and the familiar orange marker you see on so many Tassie hikes pointed me off onto a slightly narrower track. The muddy bits remained but thankfully there were the remnants of previous efforts to provide planks for walkers to step on although some were beautifully covered in bright green moss so I avoided those ones. The track started to get a little wilder with a fallen tree requiring a bit of stretching and shuffling to get under and a very large reminder appeared on just how big the trees and their root systems can get in Tasmania.
I posted a poll on Instagram about this fallen tree and whether it looks like a lions face or something else (I think you can guess). It was close but "something else" was the winner. Moving on to more highbrow events, the quality of the scenery from here on out gets a lot better as you now stick to narrow single track and I do mean stick as the mud in sections requires you to abandon all hopes of clean boots. While not as bad as some of the knee deep trekking in Costa Rica I experienced, there were occasions where a nice solid bit of ground turned into an ankle deep hole with my foot firmly buried in the ooze. While this was funny the first few times it had me thinking that a few sections of 2-3m long boardwalks would easily fix this right up and go a long way to stopping people avoiding these areas and encroaching on the nearby undergrowth.
The mud soon became a non-issue as I pressed on and enjoyed what is some extremely beautiful and wild terrain. Most hikes feel like you are just spectating from the trail and you can kind of switch off from worrying about where it goes or what your next step is going to be. This one was an immersive experience where you had to pick the right route up and down the undulations, tree roots and long fallen trees. While the trail markers are present every now and then, some areas required a good look around for evidence of other people's movements or just a common sense approach to where a trail would go. Having to stop every now and then wasn't such a bad thing with the variety and quality of the landscape to enjoy. Different species of plants would dominate the undergrowth such as tough sword grass before switching back to ferns or moss covered tree roots.
Rounding a corner I heard a few voices in the distance and soon I had interrupted a few older gentlemen from a local bushwalking club out on a social hike (explaining the lone car in the car park). I stopped for a bit of a chat and after finding out they were from a local club I congratulated them on being able to enjoy such a great environment on a regular occurrence. They asked where I was from and when I said Western Australia they remarked something about not getting forest this wet back home. I told them to check out the Karri forests if they were ever over there as it has a very similar feel to it, just not as crazy on the ferns (although around Warren Campsite I found some large examples). They kindly let me pass ahead of them and I ventured off into the forest.
The final part of the hike to Adamsons Falls is a little steeper but nothing too difficult if you are a regular hiker. Once again the quality of the scenery picks up so you don't really notice the steep parts as there is always a mossy section or interesting fungi to admire. Clambering over tree roots becomes the norm as you reach the falls and it was starting to develop a very Fangorn Forest feel to it as if one wrong step and your leg would be eaten up by the trees themselves. I eventually arrived at the very steep section next to the falls and spotted a path down to them so slowly positioned myself down to the rocky platform. The falls here were amazing with a two sided wall of green moss split by the cascading water gushing onto a shallow platform before reaching the next set of rapids. A moss covered fallen tree in front of the falls provided a nice feature to include in the photos so I found a small patch of the platform to setup my tripod and started snapping away.
While the falls were spectacular, the view back down the valley was also fantastic as this was the first time you had any real visual on how high you had climbed. With the wet rocks you have to be careful as one slip would see you fall several metres down onto more rocks and space is very tight here. After photographing the falls for a while I began to wonder if I could get above the falls and have a look around there. The trail just seemed to end at these falls as the way up the hill was very steep and hard to climb up. I backtracked to the main trail and started looking for a way up. After scrambling and battling my way up the hill I reached another side trail to the area above the first falls and discovered another set of rapids. Having not read up in great detail before my trip out here other than distance and directions (I like to see things from my own perspective first), I didn't know this was a three tiered set of falls. Arriving at the second set of falls makes it more obvious with the last waterfall visible from the rocky platform that is home to the middle waterfall.
While still very interesting, I could see the much taller third tier so didn't spend as long here before making the final push up to the true finishing point. With many photos in the bag and many more to take I was expecting to see the older gentlemen from the bushwalking club but they never arrived at the falls or if they did they must have visited and returned while I was hidden on the lower parts. The final hike up to the largest of the waterfalls is under some fallen trees branches and you are presented with nothing but moss covered walls, a gentle pool of cool water and a shower of white water descending down from the heavens. This was a giant wow moment as I got closer to the falls and could fully soak it all in. With plenty of room up here to take it all in I photographed away before taking some time to sit on a rock and enjoy the amazing scene in front of me. This had been another unforgettable day of exploring and with two great hikes under my belt I felt very privileged to be here in this moment.
It wasn't easy prying myself away from those waterfalls but I eventually descended back down the hill. Making the journey a little better was seeing everything from a different angle of course and I had a little more cloud cover so there was less contrast between light and dark to contend with. After getting a good rinse from being near the streams and falls, my boots were back to being muddy in no time. Remembering what a great time I just had made it easier and I soon arrived back at the car to find the other car gone. I had planned another short walk in the area at Hastings Cave but the route on the forestry tracks wasn't that clear and I wasn't sure how accurate the signs were saying a 4x4 was needed. With that in mind and it still being a decent journey back to my AirBnb I called it a day, happy with the two trails I had experienced and ready for some red wine in the warmth of my cottage.
Final Thoughts - With Tasmania being home to a large number of waterfalls, it would be a great shame if you couldn't hike to a few of them. With some amazing wilderness areas like Southwest National Park within a couple of hours of Hobart, exploring the fringes to places like Adamsons Falls is vital for people to connect with nature.
While the first section of this hike is thorugh regrowth forest, it goes to show what the difference is between regrowth and old growth and why we should fight hard to protect the latter from logging, mining and human expansion.
When you do arrive at the natural beauty of the thick rainforest it is an amazing experience right up to the falls. There is no manicured path here and the hike is much better because of it.
The falls themselves are amazing with three for the price of one and each has their own character. If you're a photographer then it's worth lugging all your equipment on this hike and spending a couple of hours enjoying the different tiers from a variety of angles.
While it would have been nice to visit Adamsons Peak, that adventure will have to wait for another day. This experience was every bit as enjoyable as I'd hoped and gets a big tick for being an awesome hike.
Get out there and experience it!
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