The Larapinta Trail is another of the Great Walks of Australia that we are currently running a blog series on. Bushwalking is one of the adventures that Australia is known for, so we are highlighting some of the best ones. The Larapinta Trail in in Australia’s Northern Territory near the MacDonnell Ranges and close to Alice Springs. It is a draw for hikers and bushwalkers to come to this remote region of the country. The trail begins in Alice Springs and heads west into the West MacDonnell Ranges through West MacDonnell National Park for 223 km and ends at Mount Sonder, which is one of the highest mountains in the Northern Territory. The mountain trek takes 16 days from end to end, but there are other shorter options that still allow you to see the beautiful, breathtaking views found only on the trail.
Larapinta Trail in the West MacDonnell National Park near Mount Sonder Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Typical Signs along the Larapinta Trail Photo Credit: (Wikipedia) CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3196164
Hiring a Vehicle to Get to the Larapinta Trail
Alice Springs Map Photo Credit: Google Maps
Larapinta Trail Map Photo Credit: Google Maps
Alice Springs Car Rental Map Photo Credit: Budget.com.au
If tour buses aren’t your thing, hire your own 4WD vehicle to drive yourself around the Northern Territory. With your own car rental, you can tour around at your own pace and see things at your leisure. Times and schedules don’t have to be adhered to when you have your own vehicle to go where you want, when you want. Since the Northern Territory is remote and rugged, be sure to consult with your car rental agent to find the right vehicle for you and obtain the right safety supplies, maps, and instructions. Click through the link for the best rate on car rentals in the Northern Territory. You can hire a car in Alice Springs, or rent a vehicle right at the Alice Springs Airport. Looking for other destinations to visit with exploring the Northern Territory? Check out these other blog posts:
Larapinta Trail Itinerary
On the Larapinta Trail Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Tree on the Finke River Along the Larapinta Trail Photo Credit: (Wikipedia) By Felix Dance Own CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=427487
The suggested itinerary for the Larapinta Trail is 16 days for the end to end round trip walk. There are several different companies that offer guides or group walks. As you will see, it is possible to take shorter walks for multi day, extended trips, overnight, or even just a day trip. Our first feature on the Larapinta Trail will showcase the day walk and overnight walking options.
The best time to walk the trail for the coolest weather is between May and August. The busiest months are June and July. The trail begins in Alice Springs and heads east to the MacDonnell Ranges to Mount Sonder and then back again. However, there are other walks available to fit your schedule and fitness level. You can choose from: day walk options, overnight walk options, multi day walk options, extended walk options or the end to end entire trail round trip. No matter the length of your walk, be sure to plan ahead, understand the fitness level requirements, have the right shoes and attire, plenty of drinking water, emergency supplies, and make sure that someone knows when you are expected back. Taking all the necessary safety precautions ensures that you will have the most enjoyable bushwalking holiday. It is also important to remember that you are a guest in nature and much of this land is a protected national park. Bring a bag with you to take your own rubbish away. Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures.
Larapinta Trail Day Walk Options
Section 8 Larapinta Trail Day Walk Photo Credit: LarapintaTrail.com.au
S4 Bluff Return Larapinta Trail Day Walk Photo Credit: LarapintaTrail.com.au
Count Points Return Larapinta Trail Day Walk Photo Credit: LarapintaTrail.com.au
Mount Sonder Return Larapinta Trail Day Walk Photo Credit: LarapintaTrail.com.au
There are four day walks on the Larapinta Trail. They are easily accessible by vehicle, so you can drive to the section, do your walk and drive back to Alice Springs or your campsite. Each one has spectacular scenery; you can choose one or do both on different days depending on your schedule.
- The Section 4 Bluff Return is a very hard walk for experienced walkers and hikers only. It begins at the trailhead at Standley Chasm and takes you to Brinkley Bluff and Back. For your efforts, you are rewarded with some of the best scenery along the entire trail.
- The Mount Sonder Return walk in section 12. It is known as one of the most enjoyable sections of the Larapinta Trail, is easily accessible, considered a moderate level walk, and offers up magnificent 360 degree views.
- The Section 3 High Route Return has steep climbs that bring you up over the rocky gorges. The round trip route of section 3 begins and ends at Standley Chasm.
- The Counts Point Return is in section 8. The views at Counts Point are some of the most special ones on the entire Larapinta Trail. Since this walk is on high ground, you get amazing 360 degree views of the surrounds. Access this round trip day walk at Serpentine Gorge trailhead.
Larapinta Trail Overnight Walk Options
S3 High Route Return Larapinta Trail Overnight Walk Photo Credit: LarapintaTrail.com.au
Hill Top Lookout Larapinta Trail Overnight Walk Photo Credit: LarapintaTrail.com.au
Chasm to Hugh Larapinta Trail Overnight Walk Photo Credit: LarapintaTrail.com.au
Section 9 Larapinta Trail Overnight Walk Photo Credit: LarapintaTrail.com.au
Razorback Ridge Section 5 Larapinta Trail Overnight Walk Photo Credit: LarapintaTrail.com.au
There are 4 different overnight walk options on the Larapinta Trail. Some of these are 1 to 3 day walks and others are 2 to 3 day walks. They make for a great weekend holiday trek. Most are moderate to hard walks so use caution and be prepared.
- Chasm to Hugh overnight trek takes you through sections 4 and 5. It begins at Standley Chasm and ends at Hugh Gorge. The access to Hugh Gorge to begin the trek is with a high clearance 4WD only. This walk is graded very hard; covers 33.7 kn and takes 3 days / two nights with about 19 hours of walking.
- Heavitree Trek is a walk through sections 8 and 9. It begins at Serpentine Gorge and ends at Ormiston Gorge. In between, the trail winds through valleys, narrow gorges and over the mountain tops. It is graded as hard level and takes three days and two nights with approximately 17 ½ hours of walking over the 42 km trek.
- S3 High Route Return is a hard trail that has a distance of 18.3 km. Suggested time frame is two days and one night. The route is rugged and steep with climbs over rocky gorges with amazing views. The route is a round trip from Standley Chasm and takes you through the Alternative High Route from Mille Flat returning via the low route at Tangentyere Junction.
- Section 11 walk provides spectacular views of Mount Sonder in the distance while you trek through the Redbank Gorge from the Finke River Trailhead in section 10 and 11. This is rated a hard walk of 26 km and should take two day and one night to complete.
The Great Walks of Australia
The Larapinta Trail is one of the nine Great Walks of Australia. The other walks include:
The Margaret River Cape to Cape Walk in Western Australia
The Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk in Victoria
The Bay of Fires Lodge Walk in Tasmania
The Cradle Mountain Huts Walks in Tasmania
The Freycinet Experience Walk in Tasmania
The Maria Island Walk in Tasmania