Alpine National Park: Mount Feathertop via South Razorback return 23km

There are several hiking trails for reaching Mount Feathertop (1,922m), Victoria’s second tallest mountain after Mount Bogong (1,986m). You can arrive on the Razorback from both the south and from the north. Or on the Bungalow Spur west from Harrietville. There are several other options as well. My trail today to Mount Feathertop was hiking from south to north along the Razorback, back again the same way.

The name Feathertop apparently originates from the look of spring snow remaining in the summit gullies, giving an appearance of feathers. Mount Feathertop is usually covered in snow between June and September. Apparently, it’s busy here during snow season. I wouldn’t know. Snow is not my thing so I avoid it if I can.

May I also mention that Mount Feathertop is something of an Australian bushwalking icon? A desired destination for many hikers.

The map:

The elevation map:

Razorback South is considered the most popular and scenic hiking option. You start off Great Alpine Road from opposite Diamantina Hut.

I returned the same way today, but a popular alternative is finishing off hiking the Bungalow Spur westwards to Harrietville. That is if you can organise car shuttle or other additional transport from there. Not an option for me today.

Below is the Razorback South trailhead. The Diamantina Hut is just across the road behind me:

Trailhead for Razorback trail to Mount Feathertop

This alpine hike requires you to write down your details in a log book before you start. And later “sign off” after you return. After completing those formalities, I was keen to get cracking.

Perfect weather today. At 8am, some 15 degrees Celsius when I began. Little if any wind. Given that this is an alpine region, weather can of course change at any moment. Nearby Falls Creek had snow a couple of days prior. And earlier this morning, the top of Mount Feathertop read 4 degrees Celsius. My backpack contained both an outer layer and a wind/rain jacket. I didn’t use any of them today, but you just never know.

As most of the Razorback is above the treeline, the awesome views started immediately.

Starting the Razorback hike

I glanced back and could just make out my little Toyota Yaris parked off Great Alpine Road. The second car on the right. The Diamantina Hut is partly visible up the hill.

Looking back towards the Razorback South trailhead

The Razorback along its narrow ridge surprised me somewhat by being relatively flat (or as flat as an alpine region can be). Sure, some ups and downs, but nothing too strenuous. Mount Feathertop is that distant peak to the left.

Over the hills and far away

My map suggested walking straight ahead here below, but there is actually an alternative on the right. That second option avoids the hill in front of you, including smoothing out hiking through “The Big Dipper” on the other side, the steepest section apart from Mount Feathertop itself. I didn’t know this walking there but figured it out later. And subsequently arrived back from that right.

Option B on the right – avoids some steep sections

Descending down The Big Dipper to the right required some patience and awareness. It may not come across below but it was quite rocky and slippery. I took my time and no damage done.

The Big Dipper

Plenty of evidence from bushfires through snow gum skeletons.

After bushfires

A massive number of photographs today again. Almost everywhere along the Razorback, the views were simply stunning. What I include in this post is just a fraction.

Below I’m looking back after hiking some kilometers.

The beautiful alpine country in summer

After almost exactly 7km, a small knoll appeared. No wind and 360 degrees views. Add a few rocks to sit on, it’s time for a break and a cuppa. Include a selfie looking too happy according to Good Mrs…

Hans – The Happy Hiker

The trail continued behind me as per below.

The trail rolls on

A couple of fellow hikers I spoke to suggested the area between the Twin Knobs as a great place for a rest. Somewhat sheltered and given evidence of previous open fires, I would agree. Today, in perfect conditions, I preferred where I stopped just prior.

Between the Twin Knobs

Parts of the trail up towards High Knob consisted of rock-hopping. For most of today’s trail, the actual walking was easy. Nothing serious here either. Just slow down a fraction and make sure you put your feet right.

Up alongside High Knob

On the northern opposite side of High Knob is a trail junction. The path towards Mount Feathertop is straight ahead, while Diamantina Spur on the right takes you down to Kiewa River (not “road tested” by me).

Trail junction north of High Knob (1801m)

Turning around a short time later and the three knobs are more evident. High Knob is closest. The Twin Knobs behind it.

The three Knobs (sounds like a movie title…)

The next trail junction was today’s last. Bungalow Spur and also Federation Hut, which I will visit later, are behind me. Guess what that hill in front of me would be?

Almost there… Hey, somebody left a pack in that tree…(not me)

After a short break for water and stretching, I continued. Mount Feathertop will not get climbed by itself.

Looking back perhaps halfway up Mount Feathertop

Mount Feathertop consists of two tops. You arrive at the little lower (below). Then a tiny descent/ascent and before arriving at your destination (where the other hikers are). Top of the mountain.

Almost there…

The views from Mount Feathertop were simply stunning. That feeling of being “top of the world” may be a clique but that’s how I felt. Still before lunchtime, but hey, where else would you have it?

First, another selfie of a grinning hiker…

At Mount Feathertop

A few photos of the views from Mount Feathertop follow:

Views from Mount Feathertop (1 of 4)
Views from Mount Feathertop (2 of 4)
Views from Mount Feathertop (3 of 4)
Views from Mount Feathertop (4 of 4)

I asked a fellow hiker to take a photo of me…

Thumbs up… Mount Feathertop is GREAT

OK, I suppose I need to get going again…

Mount Feathertop – looking back where I arrived

Arriving back at that last trail junction, I decided to explore Federation Hut, some 500m away from there. This detour would add an extra hiking kilometer by then returning here the same way. But hey, it would be good to understand the hut facilities for next time.

Federation Hut from the distance

The old Federation Hut burnt down in the 2003 bushfires but a modern replacement has since been built.

Federation Hut

Federation Hut is for day use only and for providing shelter during foul weather. Its inside looked like below:

Inside the Federation Hut

However, plenty of camping ground outside the Federation Hut. Much more to the left of the picture.

From Federation Hut, looking back from where I arrived

Surprisingly, there were four separate dunnies (toilets) in a nearby single building. Four! This place must get busy at times, assuming during ski season.

The toilet block

The Bungalow Spur towards Harrietville continued behind Federation Hut. Not for me today. My next was rejoining the Razorback and walk back to the beginning. Another photo showing bushfire devastation as I “marched along” towards the trailhead.

Partly burnt snow gums

Fast forward to those two paths around The Big Dipper. I arrived down the hill from the centre, but returning I choose that left trail. Somewhat straighter, wouldn’t you say?

The two trails south of The Big Dipper

Soon, that initial trail junction appeared. From here the distance back to the trailhead is less than a kilometer.

The very first trail junction

You can see Great Alpine Road from quite some distance away, but finally it felt close.

The last half kilometer or so

Hike finished! Don’t forget to tick off your return in that logbook (I didn’t).

The hike to Mount Feathertop exceeded all my expectations and was by far the most thrilling hike of my three hikes this week. Luck always plays a part and weatherwise it was perfect. Talking to a fellow hiker, who have completed this hike a dozen times, said that he had never experienced better weather conditions than today.

Strongly recommended. A long day (7 hours for me), but with plenty of rewards. Simply stunning views and a sense of achievement.

 

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