Frenchman’s Cap: Type II Fun in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park | Tasmania

When you’re not a tail runner, but you’re short on time, so you squeeze in an ultra-lightweight 3-5 day trekking adventure, in 2 days. With a combination of only the essentials and a pair of speedy legs, there’s 2 beautiful huts, Barron’s Pass, and 2 alpine lakes en route to one epic summit: Frenchman’s Cap.

In the heart of the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers Ranges, there is a summit that has a treacherous mud-rich history of the good ol’ “sodden lodden”, but today its is a popular trail that now boasts a comfortable mix of natural forest paths, wooden boardwalks and elevated gravel foot paths, that make this trek a tough and challenging adventure, but oh so rewarding. It’s a big weekend getaway for anyone after Type Two Fun!

Highlights

  • Lake Vera – alpine lake, hut & tent pads, + drop toilet
  • Lake Tahune – brand new hut, USB charging ports, Alpine lake, tent pads, drop toilets
  • Frenchman’s Cap Summit – 360 degree views, scrambling, wildflowers, epic sunset & sunrise location
  • Wildlife – Quoll sighting, a few Tiger Snakes, and an Echidna

Note: All trail statistics were measured using a Suunto9 GPS watch, which may vary from route information published by Tasmania Parks.

Alright, let’s dive into the trail notes. 

Day 1 Carpark to the Summit of Frenchman’s Cap

Trail Stats: 15 February 2020 / 24km / 9.19hrs / 1713m up / 706m down

With a semi-early start, Coach Josh Wood and I set off on a collaborative adventure to Franklin-Gordon National Park, Tasmania. We worked on photography and video content, tested some Sea to Summit gear, and fastpacked a 3-5 day trek, in 2 days.

We started with a good pace, that we sustained for the majority of the day. We charged to Vera Hut, where we stopped for a quick bite before continuing onto Lake Tahune. The trail navigates through cool forests, sun-exposed elevated gravel paths, across two suspension bridges, and over many tree roots and wooden steps.

From Vera Hut, the trail begins to ascend. A big push upwards takes you to Barron’s Pass, which boasts stunning views in good conditions, of Frenchman’s Cap and the surrounding massifs. From here, the trail undulates towards Lake Tahune + Hut. This landscape is home to pencil pines, scoparia, fagus, and wildflowers, making this section one of my favourites.

Upon reaching Tahune Hut, we took a quick break before continuing up the summit. With cairns making the whole way up, gentle scrambling zig-zags up the summit. We came across 3 false summits before finally reaching the top. The fog rolled in and out, gently veiling and unveiling the 360 degree views. It was super windy, very cold, and surreal that we got so lucky with our weather and views.

We descended a few hundred metres before setting up our tarp camp. With prevailing winds, we had a sleepless night and a shelter destroyed by morning. The winds howled at 50-80km/hr and made for a hilariously uncomfortable experience. Though it was an epic adventure, we wouldn’t want to repeat another sleepless night, but it’s now a memory that will last us a lifetime.


Day 2 Just below Frenchman’s Cap Summit to Carpark

Trail Stats: 16 February 2020 / 23.58km / 8.37hrs / 664m up / 1646m down

The sunrise stopped time. The sky glowed with a watercolour pink and yellow. We descended as the sun stretched its rays and stopped at Tahune hut for morning tea. Thereafter, it was fast backtracking to the start. With lightweight packs, we traveled well.

Fatigue and weary feet set in around the last 7km. We encountered some stubborn Tiger Snakes that made very little effort to slither away. By mid-day, we encountered more than 30 people on the trail. It was a good ol’ Sunday, and not even a long weekend! We were quite surprised at how busy the track and huts would be that day, and we were relieved that we were heading back to Hobart.

With 2 suspension bridges left to cross the finish line, our tired feet really felt the final push. We were well and happy to finally reach the carpark, sit, and drive to a local pub for dinner. If you’re in the area of Ouse, check out the Lachlan Hotel for awesome food.

Native flora to admire: sassafrass, myrtle beech, snow berries, fairies apron, and varnish gum.


Wrapping it Up

This outdoor adventure is usually completed in 3-5 camping days. Having only had a weekend to smash out a micro adventure, we did two big out-n-back days, without running!

Ideally, you’d give yourself at least 3 days to enjoy alpine lake dips and a little more down time in this wilderness scape.

Prioritize a good weather window as this walk can be disappointing, leaving Frenchman’s Cap in a whiteout and out of reach. Harsh weather conditions can force you to turn around in this area of Tasmania.

Total kilometres: 47.58km / 2377m total ascent / 2 days


Essential Gear

  • Tasmania Parks Pass
  • Guy Rope – a good item to have for shelter set up on the summit or on wooden tent platforms
  • Rain Pants and Rain Jacket – re-treat your rainproof gear with Nikwax – get a tech wash & DWR re-proofing spray
  • A sleeping bag & liner – the liner adds warmth and keeps the bag clean 
  • Peak Design Capture Camera Clip (for the photography buffs!)
  • 1-2 extra days worth of Emergency Food & enough Fuel
  • Gaiters – good snake protection
  • Camper’s Pantry – local Tasmanian Freeze-dried food!

How to Get Here

Option 1 – Personal or Hired vehicle 

Option 2 – Transit


Skill Level

Intermediate

Trail consists of gravel, boardwalk, forest floor, slippery roots & steps, and some scrambling once you begin summiting the Cap.