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The Larapinta Trail

The Larapinta Trail is a 223km hiking trail, along the Tjorita / West MacDonnell Ranges, which is quickly becoming one of Australia's favourites. Its twelve sections offer experiences which suit all hiking enthusiasts, so you, the traveller, can cater to your every desire; whether this is a partial day hike or a two-week-long journey from one end to end of the trail.

The trails offer spectacular views of the rugged, untamed Central Australian landscape. Lush green trees on top of red earth with a backdrop of golden sunshine and blue skies offer an experience like no other. There is so much unique wilderness to see it simply cannot be encapsulated in words. But we can try.

The Sections

1. Alice Springs to Simpsons Gap (23 km)

Section one is a comfortable walk which offers spectacular views of the area surrounding Alice Springs, particularly from Euro Ridge and Hat Hill Saddle. A limited supply of water tanks dot the first section of the trail and food drops can be arranged at Simpsons Gap - one of the campsites section one has to offer. Camping is also available at Wallaby Gap and Hat Hill Saddle.

 

2. Simpsons Gap to Jay Creek (24 km)

This section of the trail is fairly flat and undulating, which makes it approachable for most hikers. The scenery is better on section two than section one and this leg can be broken up into two segments with an overnight stay at Mulga Creek. Otherwise, water tanks are available sporadically and a food cache can be organised at Jay Creek.

 

3. Jay Creek to Standley Chasm (13 km)

Section three of the Larapinta trail offers two walks: the high road and the low road. The high road offers stunning views from the top of a rocky gorge, while the low view involves walking through a creek bed. The high view is slightly more strenuous, but offers a better experience overall. Limited water is available in tanks and a food cache is available at Standley Chasm.

Larapinta Trail Euro Ridge TNT

Hikers on Larapinta Trail

Larapinta Trail ridge World Expeditions

Ridgeline along Larapinta Trail - World Expeditions

Larapinta Trail Simpsons Gap group World Expeditions

Simpsons Gap - World Expeditions

Larapinta Trail OTS

Larapinta Trail - Outback Tour Services

4. Standley Chasm to Birthday Waterhole (17 km)

Section four offers a wide variety of experiences and challenges and is some of the best track on the entire Larapinta Trail. Standley Chasm to Brinkley Buff is very scenic and there is nice camping at Birthday Waterhole where a food drop can be arranged.

 

5. Birthday Waterhole to Hugh Gorge (18km)

Section 5 is definitely one of the most visually spectacular and best sections of the entire Larapinta Trail, particularly along Razorback Ridge. It is also one of the most difficult sections. Water is available in limited supply via water tanks and food drop-off can be arranged at Hugh Gorge.

 

6. Hugh Gorge to Ellery Creek (31 km)

After the rocky terrain of sections 4 and 5, section 6 of the Larapinta Trail is relatively flat. In saying this, it is the longest section of the trail, snaking across Alice Valley. Good bird watching is available. Ellery Creek has a food cache and there are water tanks available in limited supply.

Ellery Creek Larapinta Trail OTS

Larapinta Trail at Ellery Creek Big Hole - Outback Tour Services

7. Ellery Creek to Serpentine Gorge (14km)

Section seven is one of the more mundane sections of the trail, however, is highly recommended for bird watchers. Water is available in tanks along the trail and Serpentine Gorge is home to a food cache.

 

8. Serpentine Gorge to Serpentine Chalet (19km)

Section eight is rather scenic with some great views along the high points of the trail. This section of the track is well supported with stone stairs and trail clearing. Water is available in limited supply from water tanks and a food cache can be arranged at Serpentine Chalet dam.

 

9. Serpentine Chalet to Ormiston Gorge (29km)

Section nine is tricky to complete in one session, however, offers some great views from Mt Giles Lookout. Waterfall Gorge makes a good halfway campsite. Limited water supply is available from water tanks scattered along the trail and food is available at the Ormiston Gorge Official Storeroom.

Ormiston Gorge and Pound

Ormiston Gorge Ghost Gum Lookout - Emu Run Experience

Ormiston Gorge and Pound PAWNT

Ormiston Gorge and Pound

10. Ormiston Gorge to Finke River or Glen Helen (13 km)

This section (section ten) is perfectly pleasant and easy to digest. The best scenery is observable at the start of the trail, closer to Ormiston Gorge. The views of Mount Sonder in the distance are particularly delightful. Water is available, but no food caches are available on this section of the Larapinta Trail.

 

11. Finke River to Redbank Creek (26km)

Section eleven is a relatively comfortable but long and scenic walk. From Hill Top Lookout to Rocky Bar Gap there are superb 360-degree views of Mount Sonder. Water is sporadically available, but no food caches are available along section eleven.

Larapinta Trail trekkers

Trekkers along the Larapinta Trail

12. Mount Sonder (1380m)

Section twelve is an uphill battle which contains some loose trails and the occasional disappearing track. The 360-degree views from the summit, however, are some of the best the trail has to offer. There is no camping at the summit of Mt Sonder - camping is instead available at nearby Redbank Gorge. 

Larapinta Trail Tours

There are a plethora of companies who offer Larapinta Trail experiences. Please see the list below for more information.

Trek Larapinta

Trek Larapinta was established in 1998, eight years after the trail first opened. The company focuses on tour quality and sustainability, maintaining strong local knowledge of the landscape and building meaningful connections within our community.

100% Adventure

100% Adventure is a global travel company that offers five Larapinta packages. Packages range from $3000 to $4990 and take between six and sixteen days to complete.

World Expeditions / Australian Walking Holidays

World Expeditions offer fully-guided six-day adventures through the Larapinta Trail. Packages include luxury campsites with hot showers and three-course meals. 

Larapinta Culture

Larapinta Culture is the only Aboriginal-owned and operated business offering cultural awareness trekking in the Alice Springs region. Guided tours are available and will help you to connect with country during your visit.

Larapinta Trail Support

If you are a self guided trekker, there are plenty of other operators who can help you on your journey, from food drops to End to End transfers to communication and equipment hire.

Larapinta Trail Trek Support

Larapinta Trail Trek Support (LTTS) provides top tier trek, trail & field support services for independent and self-guided hikers and trekkers taking on extended-day treks on the Larapinta Trail.

Emu Run Experience

Emu Run offers Larapinta Trail transfers from Alice Springs to Redbank Gorge and Glen Helen.

Alice Springs Visitor Information Centre

The staff at the local Visitor Centre are happy to give advice and support ahead of your Larapinta Trail hike. You can hire food drop cage keys from the Centre, and book any transfers you may need. 

Larapinta Trail Tours and Support

Handy Information

For trekkers doing the hike on their own accord, see here for more information. Use the Avenza Maps App to track your walk on the interactive park map.

New online booking system

To walk and camp along the trail, Parks and Wildlife NT have now set up an online booking system including fees. Before you leave for your hike, make sure to set up an account and reserve your campsites and walking pass, as reception is patchy at best once you are out on the trail. In the system click the "BOOK WALKING TRAIL" button, and follow the prompts, select "Larapinta Trail" as your great walk, enter your walking dates, number of people, and select a campground for each night, reserve and keep a record on you for your hike. 

Walking fee is $25 per day, capped at $125 for multi-day treks, per person. Camping fees depend on site and facilities. There are 3 private sites that have to booked directly with the provider, and are in the online booking system as $0 for the purpose of planning only (these are Standley Chasm, Ormiston Gorge and Glen Helen Gorge).

 

Food drops

There are food storage points along the trail that hikers are allowed to use. Multi-day hikers usually organise the food drops to replenish there kit before continuing onto the next sections. 

Storage rooms and keys

You can leave food in storage rooms at Ellery Creek South, Serpentine Gorge and Ormiston Gorge (Standley Chasm can also offer food drops upon request). Get a key from the Visitor Information Centre in Alice Springs to get access to your food on the trail. Keys will be charged at $60 on collection, with $50 refunded at time of key return. 

Food drop support

You can arrange food drops yourself or employ a local company to do so for you. Emu Run, Larapinta Trail Trek Support, Outback Elite Tours, and Outback Tour Services offer food drop box services. A secure container with a lid is recommended so that your food is protected from mice and insects. Make sure to add a label to your food drop box with your name, the date and your intended pick-up date. It is your responsibility to collect all food drop boxes within seven days of the labelled pick-up date.

 

Water supply

Water tanks are available at the trailheads. You should boil the water, use sterilising tablets or a filter as the quality of the water can't be guaranteed. There are 16 water tanks along the trail to be used for drinking and cooking purposes only. Drink water regularly, don't wait until you are thirsty as this is one of the early signs of dehydration. Even if walking in mild conditions, you will still need to drink water regularly.

Water tanks are monitored and refilled by rangers according to the season and number of walkers on the trail. They are filled up well before they empty. You should urgently report any leaks, low tank levels or other concerns to rangers at Simpsons Gap (08 8955 0310) or Ormiston Gorge (08 8956 7799).

 

Information Packs

Trail information packs are available from the Alice Springs Visitor Information Centre or Parks and Wildlife NT and includes maps and detailed information about the trail. Packs cost $42 plus postage. Call or order online. Inside you will find:

  • A poster-sized folded trail map
  • 12 section maps with notes on rip-proof, waterproof paper with a plastic pocket.

 

Safety and Emergencies

It is important for Larapinta Trail trekkers to have an emergency plan.

It is recommended that trekkers walk together in a group of 3 or more, so that if 1 person becomes injured, 1 person can stay with them while the other looks for help.

Particularly during the hotter weather, it is recommended that hikers walk in early morning or late afternoon/evening to avoid walking in the hottest part of the day. While the days may be hot, the nights can also be freezing, so be sure to pack a warm layer to avoid hypothermia.

For your safety be sure to write in all logbooks located at the Trailheads so that in the case of an emergency, Rangers can track your movements. Please record your details clearly and accurately.

Communication

Hikers should also carry some form of emergency communication such as a satellite phone or personal locator beacon. These can be hired from Central Communications, Larapinta Trail Trek Support or Adventure Rentals

Fires and Floods

In case of bushfires, do not start a walk where a bushfire is prominent. In case of a fire starting while you are on the trail, find an open area such as a creekbed, avoid wearing synthetic fabrics, protect your skin and airways by keeping low.

In case of floods, the usually dry watercourses can lead to flash flooding. In this scenario head to high ground and never attempt to cross floodwaters.

Lost

If someone in your group gets lost contact 000 or Alice Springs Police (131 444) immediately. If you (or your group) gets lost, stay calm and remain together. Seek a nearby open area and wait for help. You should always have someone not on the trail know of your whereabouts who can contact for help if you have not made contact by an agreed time.

For full safety advice, see more information here.

 

Contacts

Alice Springs Police - 131 444

Friends of the Larapinta Trail

Parks and Wildlife NT - larapinta.trail@nt.gov.au or (08) 8951 8250

Alice Springs Visitor Information Centre - info@discoverca.com.au or 1800 645 199

Other important contacts for Larapinta Trail Services and Emergencies

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