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A Guide to Hiking Mount Sonder

The Mount Sonder hike is an uphill one, and the climb along the Larapinta trail is about 15 kilometres long. The Larapinta Trail stretches from Alice Springs to Mount Sonder. The section between Redbank Gorge and Mount Sonder takes around five hours to complete (up and down) and is considered by most to be a challenging albeit rewarding hike.

Starting at Redbank Gorge, the trail is easily accessible from the Redbank Gorge Day Use Area. On the Larapinta Trail, you will find the Hilltop Lookout, where you can have a good view of Mount Sonder. You can also stop by the Mount Sonder lookout on Namatjira Drive. 

For a detailed step-by-step guide to the hike see more here.

Mt Sonder Lookout The Salty Travellers 134427

View from Mount Sonder Lookout

Making the Summit of Mount Sonder For Sunrise 

If you are looking to climb the summit to catch the sunrise, we recommend starting early. This may be as early as even 3am, depending on the time of the year that you’re doing the climb. In winters, the sun usually rises between 6:40 am, and 7:20 am. So, get on the trail by 3:30 am, so you have about 2.5 to 3 hours to do the uphill climb.

This climb will be in complete darkness, so you will need to be equipped with a good headlight and walking poles. You also need to be aware of the weather conditions. If you’re doing the hike in winter, you may encounter gale-force winds or even fog and cloud cover. If you choose to hike in the daytime, you will find breathtaking views of Mt Sonder that should not be missed. 

Mt Sonder sunrise 2

Mt Sonder Sunrise 3

Mount Sonder Activities 

Mount Sonder offers fantastic views and opportunities for a lot of photography, so, once you do the climb, take time to soak in the views and click a few shots. At the summit use this time to recover as the walk is mostly uphill and rocky.

At the base of Mount Sonder is Redbank Gorge. Here you can find a short walk to a gorgeous gorge, where you can swim and relax by the waters edge. For more information about Redbank Gorge, click here.

If you're planning to make it to the summit by sunrise you will want to plan your trip with a night at Redbank Gorge. With two campgrounds available and reasonable facilities staying here is the perfect base for your adventure. Campsites are bookable online here, and no longer payable onsite ($4/adult, $2/child). 

Redbank Gorge

Redbank Gorge

FAQ for hiking Mt Sonder

Yes.
Redbank Gorge Carpark to Saddle - 1 hour, 1.6km
Saddle to Mount Sonder - 2.5 hours, 5.5km
Mount Sonder to Redbank Gorge Carpark - 2.5 hours, 7.1km
TOTAL - 6 hours, 14.2 km
Mount Sonder is located in the West MacDonnell National Park, Tjoritja.
Access to Mount Sonder is via Redbank Gorge, 156km west of Alice Springs along Larapinta & Namatjira Drive, followed by 5km along the unsealed, high clearance track.
Camping is only permitted at the two designated campsites at Redbank Gorge (the base of Mt Sonder). Camping is not permitted along the hike, or the summit.
Yes. Mount Sonder is recognised as Section 12 of the Larapinta Trail. This section starts and ends at Redbank Gorge.
For hikers doing the full end-to-end Larapinta Trail, Mount Sonder is either the start or end of the trail.
The most popular option for hikers is to take just a day pack with essential/minimal gear. Essential basics include plenty of water, snacks, walking poles, a headtorch, safety equipment & first aid, and a camera.

Make sure you have a warm/wind proof layer with you for sunrise/sunset walking, and potentially cold winds.

Good, worn in hiking boots are recommended.

If you’re doing the walk at night, you must carry a high-quality headlight/head torch.

Hat, sunscreen and sunglasses are important when hiking during the day as the track has minimal shade.
The peak of Mt Sonder is at 1,380m
The official grade of Mt Sonder is grade 4, moderate to difficult (Bushwalking experience recommended, Tracks may be long, rough and very steep. Directional signage may be limited). It is suitable for people with a good level of fitness.
There is a ranger-maintained watertank at the base of Mount Sonder in Redbank Gorge car park.
Day hikers/campers are recommended to carry their drinking water requirements with them (from home). The watertank supply is mostly for multi-day Larapinta Trail hikers.
Shapely Mount Sonder is known as Rutjupma (‘the pregnant lady’) to the Western Arrernte for whom it is sacred.

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