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West MacDonnell Ranges Hiking

The West MacDonnell National Park is a reserve of the ancient land known by the name of Tjoritja to its traditional owners. The many rock formations, gorges, waterholes, and unique species of flora and fauna all hold immense cultural significance as well as unquestioned beauty. 

 

Larapinta Trail

The Larapinta Trail is a hiking track that runs from Alice Springs to Mount Sonder in the West. The trail covers 223 kilometres and can be tackled as a multi-day hike (usually 10 to 15 days) or hikers can choose to drop in at various sections for day walks or shorter multi-day walks. There are 12 sections to the walk and various junctions between each section are appropriate for food drops. 

 

Larapinta Trail World Expeditions 1

Larapinta Trail (World Expeditions)

Kwartatuma / Ormiston Gorge

The Waterhole Walk is a 5-minute, 300m (one-way) walk on a grade-1 decline with wheelchair access.

The Ghost Gum Lookout Walk is a 1.2km round-trip that takes around 45 minutes to complete. It’s a grade-3 hike with a significant incline, but the views of the waterhole and surrounding rock formations at the end are worth it. 

The Ghost Gum Walk is a 2.5km loop, taking around 1.5 hours. Rather than returning from the lookout, this walk takes you back via the gorge, passing the waterhole itself. 

The Ormiston Gorge and Pound Walk is an 8.5km, 3-4 hour loop. Over moderate terrain, the walk takes you through scenic lookouts from high points and also goes down into lower regions of the gorge itself via Ormiston Pound. For an in depth guide see more here.

Ormiston Gorge and Pound

Ormiston Gorge - Ghost Gum Lookout (Emu Run Experience)

Rutjipma / Mount Sonder

The Mount Sonder hike is section 12 of the Larapinta Trail. It is a 15.8km journey between the Redbank Gorge car park and the peak of Mount Sonder, offering panoramic views of the ranges. Those taking the Mount Sonder Walk should be aware that it is graded as difficult, with long stretches of incline. For a guide into this walk, see more here.

Rungutjirpa / Simpsons Gap 

The Cassia Hill Walk is a 1.5km round trip that takes around 1 hour to complete, graded 3 for moderate difficulty. The trail offers beautiful high-up views of the MacDonnell Ranges.

The Woodland Trail is a 7-hour return trip (17km) that takes you to Bond Gap. It’s also possible to take a shortened version of the trail to Rocky Gap, a 5-hour return trip. 

The Ghost Gum Walk is a 15-minute loop giving you access to the Ranger Station.

Udepata / Ellery Creek Big Hole 

The Ellery Creek Walk is an easy five-minute stroll from the car park, offering access to the picturesque swimming spot of Ellery Creek Big Hole.

The Dolomite Walk is a longer 3km (1.5-hour) walk that gives you the opportunity to take in the wider scenery around the Valley.

Dolomite Walk Ellery Creek Big Hole

Valley View on the Dolomite Walk

Ellery Creek Walkers OTS

Ellery Creek Walk (Outback Tour Services)

Other smaller walks:

  • Angkerle Atwatye / Standley Chasm Walk: A relatively easy 2.4km (30-minute) loop to see the stunning Standley Chasm. Entry fees apply.
  • Ulpma / Serpentine Gorge Trail: A roughly 1km walk down to the beautiful snaking Serpentine Gorge.
  • Yapalpe / Glen Helen Gorge Walk: A 5-minute walk from the car park at the trailhead to the stunning shaded water of Glen Helen Gorge.
  • Rutjipma / Redbank Gorge Walk: A moderate 2km (1.5 hour return) walk from the carpark into Redbank Gorge along the sandy creek bed.

Standley Chasm aerial over chasm

Standley Chasm aerial

Glen Helen facing East

Glen Helen Gorge

Redbank Gorge portrait

Redbank Gorge

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