Savage River Walk
Start - Tarkine Hotel, Corinna
Length - 6.8km (Return)
Grade - Orange
Terrain - Single Track, Stairs
Vertical Climb - 311m
Time - 2-3 Hours
Signed - Yes
Date Hiked - 16th April 2021
Best Time - All Year Round
Traditional Custodians - Peerapper People
Directions - Starting in the small hamlet of Corinna, located three and a half hours west of Launceston, there is only one unsealed road in and out. Once you're in Corinna then head towards the river from the Tarkine Hotel and to the car park on your right where you'll find an information board right before the track heads into the forest.
The Hike - Corinna is a small hamlet on the edge of the Tarkine buried within an abundance of natural beauty. This was the main reason that Candy and Hal chose to spend a few days here, along with the excellent kayaking opportunities, and I'm very happy they did. With a multitude of hiking trails in the area, we had just enough time to get them all in during our stay. After a morning spent exploring the amazing Philosopher Falls, an hours drive away, I had my eyes set on the Savage River Walk that takes you from the Tarkine Hotel along the Pieman River, up a hill and over to the Savage River before returning on the same path.
Caris was not quite as keen on another hike so was content to potter around the cabin reading her book (which was about fictional hikers getting murdered in Tasmania). Grabbing a new battery and filling up my water bottles, I left the cabin and walked down the hill to the edge of the Pieman River where the cable ferry operates. Passing the characterful Tarkine Hotel, I was soon at the trail head servicing the much smaller Huon Pine Walk we did the previous afternoon and the Savage River Walk I was just about to do. As the Huon Pine Walk is wheelchair accessible, the first 300m of trail that they share is all boardwalk and coincidently, I ended up taking many of the same shots as the previous afternoon. This probably isn't much of a coincident as what I'm looking for angle wise on a hike wouldn't change from one day to the next. The boardwalk section is pleasant with a mix of forest, river views and bracket fungi everywhere. With much better lighting at the end of the Huon Pine Walk to view a surviving Huon Pine hanging out over the water, it still wasn't good enough to get a decent shot of these ancient trees.
Stepping off the boardwalk, you start along the Savage River Walk with a single track taking you further into the forest but still running parallel with the Pieman River. Little yellow markers on trees and fallen logs guide your passage but it's fairly easy to figure out where to go given the well trodden pad. With no boardwalk around it started to feel like a proper hike but the infrastructure pieces continued on this trail with a series of wooden stairs taking you and down a small hill. Not overly engineered, they don't take away from the natural look of the place and are only in place when the track would get too muddy or eroded. This damp river section was a delight thanks to the large ferns everywhere and thick trunked trees taking root on the side of the hill. This would not be unique to the river section with this part of the world mostly being untouched and the trees allowed to grow as long as conditions are right and widespread fire doesn't devastate the area.
Reaching a little creek feeding into the Pieman River, it was a cool spot to slow down and enjoy. The water like most streams, creeks and rivers in Tasmania was anything but clear thanks to the tannins that flow from the decaying matter all around. This was another haven for the large ferns that dominate the wetter parts lining the river and was one of the sunnier spots on the whole walk thanks to the creek opening up a little gap in the forest canopy. This marks the end of the Pieman River section and the start of the climbing up to the highest point on the hike. I didn't expect such a big hill when I looked at one of the maps located in the centre of Corinna as it looked to mostly follow the edge of the water but between the Pieman and Savage Rivers is a small bump that means a 150m climb in elevation and then descent back down (twice if you are doing a return walk like I did). Initially the ascent is a little steep with gradients in the late teens in percentage terms but this is helped out with more wooden steps but in a slightly different style (stoppers instead of full stairs).
This felt much more like I was heading into the wilder parts of the forest with the scenery changing all around to be much more overgrown but in a good way. When there was no steps to contend with, the walking pad looked very natural with a bed of dead leaves snaking through the mossy ground. Around almost every corner was a lovely example of an centuries old tree also covered in moss and fungi just loving life in this part of the world. I was also loving life because how often do you get a couple of weeks to just hike amazing trails, especially in places like Western Tasmania. I've said this many times before about my Tassie posts but this whole stretch just felt like a fairy tale forest. Enclosed within the shroud of the thick canopy, the mossy ground looked soft and inviting with the tree trucks providing a wealth of life to grow off them. The gnarly shapes of distant branches and the visible root systems of the bigger trees added to the magic and I had a great time wandering slowly through this dream scene. With the wide views providing a pretty façade, there was more to discover when you looked closer with a lot of different fungi to find along with some delicate and vibrant plants.
With the steeper climbing now over, I was free to enjoy the forest without steps all over the place. The mossy goodness continued as I meandered through, stopping plenty to take photos or admire the way the filtered light streamed through the canopy. Nearer to the summit of the hill, the bigger trees became less and less, being replaced by medium sized trees and thick grasses. Drawing me out of my own little world, a couple passed me going back towards Corinna and it was nice to see the trail being enjoyed by more than just me. This was also the introduction of a vine like plant drooping down from the middle tier of the forest and draping itself around eye level. Like sheets of green rope, this would be more frequent on the Whyte River Walk I would do the following day and was a delight to photograph when the light was behind it. Coming from WA where the forests are so frequently burnt that the lower limbs of trees usually get destroyed by fire and the middle canopy of the forest is normally bare, this was a nice change. This section of thick grass and curtains of vines was only brief and then it was back to big trees and mossy floor for the last section before the downhill began.
This was one of the better areas for fungi and before I arrived at a very large clumping on the base of one of the trees, I could smell them quite distinctly. Turning a corner, I found them at my feet and was immediately down at ground level getting all the good angles for what was a large clumping of a browny/orange gilled variety. I think they were just in different stages of their lifecycle as nearby there were more clumping of different shades and size with the smaller ones really catching my eye due to the texture of the dark caps. Moving on, I was delighted to come across some small holes in the muddier section of the trail that I knew were the homes for the Burrowing Crayfish. There is a small walk close to the centre of Corinna where they have a platform overlooking one area where the burrows are quite common so I had seen them before this walk. While we never saw one on the various trips to that lookout, both during the day and at night when they are active, I was still hoping to see one here. The burrows are very sensitive so please watch your step as you walk along the trail so you don't squish ones of their tiny homes.
At the top of the hill there is a little side trail taking you to a position overlooking the river valley to the east and it was a nice spot to stand and take it all in for a while. Being so enclosed this whole time, the feeling of open air was strange but the views of the misty forest below was a good payoff for the climb you've just done. There is an information plaque here telling you all about the Corinna gold rush that occurred when they discovered the precious metal in the surrounding river systems. Not terribly interested in anything not connected to nature on this walk, I gave it a brief read and continued on my merry way. With the downhill to go before reaching the banks of the Savage River and what the map showed as a good point to turnaround, the walking would be easier as the terrain started to dip down into the valley. On this side of the hill it was a lot sunnier because I was facing to the north west and that made photographing objects a whole lot easier. The scenery was much of the same and by that I mean fantastically green, mossy and full of life.
The stairs had returned in steeper sections of the trail and at certain points it turned into a series of switchbacks to deal with the gradient. This was alright with me as it meant a longer walk and more time to enjoy the incredible forest all around me. With the extra sunlight streaming through the canopy, at certain times it was hard to capture the wide shots but it also opened up new possibilities with bright flares of light in certain shots (like the close up of the fern frons in the below gallery). The fungi through here continued to be enjoyable with lots of bracket varieties growing off bits of fallen logs or branches. I loved one particular find because the normally orange disk like feature formed a cup with the inside bowl looking like it had been taken over by green moss. Continuing to descend down the hill, there were more great finds closer to the bottom with the largest collection of fungi in one spot for the whole walk providing a chance to stop and spend a bit of time crouched down trying to get all the good angles.