One of the best day hikes in the Hotham Alpine Resort area is the Mt Hotham Huts Walk. This long hike takes in three of the historic huts in the region as well as introduces you to a range of alpine landscapes and vistas. If you’re looking for an introductory walk in the Alpine National Park, the Huts Walk at Hotham is the perfect option for experienced hikers.
The walk can be completed as a circuit, beginning and ending near the Hotham village. It takes you out towards Mt Loch summit, across the ridge opposite the Hotham Resort Area, down to the valley below and then back up to the main road. You can enjoy detours to Derrick Hut, Spargo’s Hut and Silver Brumby Hut, as well as, to Mt Loch summit, which are all worthwhile and make it an almost-20km day.
While it’s a common hike, there is limited detailed information about the trail conditions. So, I’ve put together these track notes for the Mt Hotham Huts Walk so you can head off on the trail with a bit more confidence.
Quick info about the Mt Hotham Huts Walk
Distance: 19.5 km circuit (including the three huts and Mt Loch summit detours)
Time: 6-7 hours
Elevation gained: 765m
Start/end: Mt Loch Carpark or Davenport Access Track
Location: Mt Hotham Resort Area, Alpine National Park, Victoria
Closest towns: Hotham Heights (mostly closed in summer), Omeo (54km away) or Bright (55km away)
Watch a video of my hike here!
History of the Mt Hotham huts
Huts have played an important role in the European history of the High Country and many still dot the ridgelines of the Alpine National Park. The Huts Walk at Mt Hotham takes in three of the historic huts in the region, each with their own story.
Derrick Hut | Built as a day shelter for skiers in 1967 by the Wangaratta Ski Club. The wooden hut is named after Charles Derrick, a cross country skier who died in a blizzard on the mountain in 1965.
Spargo’s Hut | This is one of the oldest structures in the Hotham Alpine Resort Area. It was built by prospector Bill Spargo and his brother Cecil in 1927-8 for mining activities. It’s survived severe bush fires in 1939, 2003 and 2013.
Silver Brumby Hut | The original hut was built in 1992 as a film prop for the Australian film, The Silver Brumby. The current hut was built as a replica in 2006-7.
Walk directions and options
The Huts Walk can be completed as either a circuit or a one way hike. For the circuit, you can use either Mt Loch Car Park or Davenport Access Track as your start and end point. Whichever you choose, you will have to walk 2.8km on the main road between these two points. The other option if you have two cars, is to walk the trail one way with a car at either end. This way you’ll simply avoid the 2.8km on the road.
Another choice you have to make is whether to complete the Huts Walk clockwise or counterclockwise. Some track notes detail the walk starting from the Davenport Access Track and heading to Silver Brumby Hut first and continuing all the way to Mt Loch Car Park from there. However, this means you will have to contend with the steep ascent of Golden Point Spur to Spargo’s Hut. Whereas, if you come from the other direction, you will be descending down this section instead.
Beginning from the Loch Car Park is the preferred option for this reason. However, there are two things to consider for this as well. From Loch Car Park, you will be heading up Machinery Spur Track first then onto Derrick Hut and so on. This means that you will be enjoying the best scenery and views of the entire hike within the first few hours (whether you see this as a negative point or not is up to you). Another consideration is that from this direction the 2.8km at the end of the walk from the Davenport Access Track back to Loch Car Park is slightly uphill, which is not ideal after six hours of walking.
At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice whichever way you decide to walk.
Mt Hotham Huts Walk description
I completed the Mt Hotham Huts Walk from Mt Loch Car Park as a full circuit taking in all the extra detours including the three huts and Mt Loch summit (these detours are optional extras meaning that you can make the hike shorter if you prefer). These track notes are based on my experience.
From the Loch Car Park, the trail follows Machinery Spur Track for nearly 3km, which is a 4WD management track. The views across to Mt Feathertop and Mt Buffalo to your left are incredible on a clear day. You will then hit an intersection, where the Australian Alps Walking Track heads right to Derrick Hut, or the track straight ahead continues towards Mt Loch.
You have the option to make the extra side trip from here up to Mt Loch Summit. This is around 850m one way from the intersection, so it adds 1.7km onto your day. However, if you have clear weather, it’s certainly worth it for the spectacular panoramic views of the alps.
Back at the intersection, you have to turn onto the Australian Alps Walking Track towards Derrick Hut. The Huts Walk then tuns off the Alps Walking Track at a junction after 1km, where there is a clear signpost. If you want to continue to Derrick Hut, it’s an extra 800m return trip from this point. You can see the hut in the distance (see photo below) and it’s an easy detour on the Alps Walking Track if you want.
Back at the intersection, you will see a skinny but worn trail that heads towards Spargo’s Hut. This next 2km is the only section where navigation is slightly challenging. But I have compiled detailed notes here to help.
When you leave the intersection at first, the trail is quite obvious and the orange snow poles are on your left. The trail then crosses the pole line so that they are then on your right. You will notice the trail starts to veer slightly down away from the ridge and away from the pole line. Just beyond this point, the trail suddenly seems to disappear with no obvious direction in which to go. However, if you turn to your right and walk directly up towards the orange snow poles on the ridge, you will find the trail again which hugs the pole line as it heads to the top of a crest. Now you’re back on the trail, and the navigation from here onwards is more straightforward (phew!).
From here, the trail follows an old mining track which is a skinny trail down to Spargo’s Hut. There are some nice views across towards Hotham village from here. Spargo’s Hut is located on a nice plateau and is a good spot for lunch, although there’s not much shade around.
From Spargo’s Hut, the trail descends steeply down Golden Point Spur. This 1.4km section includes short, sharp switch backs all the way down to the bottom of the valley to Swindler’s Creek. There is a wooden bridge which crosses the creek and then climbs a steep 750m until you meet up with the Cobrunga Ditch Walking Track.
The trail then follows the Cobrunga Ditch for 1.8km. It’s a bit of a relief as this is a mostly flat trail, although much warmer as you’re also walking at a lower elevation. The trail is quite grassy (look out for snakes), but easy to follow, with some information boards along the way to explain the history of the water race from the gold mining era.
The track then emerges from the valley up onto the Davenport Access Track, which is a 4WD management track. From this intersection, the detour to the Silver Brumby Hut is a 2.8km return trip to your right. If you decide to do this side option, follow the access track down to Swindler’s Creek and then another motorable track turns sharply to your right towards the hut. Return the same way.
Back at the intersection of the Davenport Access Track and Cobrunga Ditch, you need to continue on the access track for 1.5km which takes you up to the Great Alpine Road. It’s a bit of a steep climb, but you’ll be triumphant as you emerge onto the road and look back at where you’ve come.
If you’re completing the full circuit, you need to walk back along the road for 2.8km to Mt Loch Car Park to pick up your car. This full circuit was 19.5km, including all the detours.
Hiking safety and essential information
If you’re planning this hike yourself, here’s some practical information for planning and safety purposes.
The weather can change in the alpine region at any time. You should expect cold, windy and rainy days even in summer. This means that you should realistically pack a full daypack with gear for all conditions to be on the safe side (even if the weather report predicts clear weather!). Some of my essential gear for the hike includes:
- Sturdy hiking boots: While the terrain is relatively stable, I would recommend good, waterproof shoes for this hike.
- 30L daypack: To make sure you have enough room to carry safety equipment, clothing and food and water, a 30L daypack is a nice size.
- Wind and waterproof jacket: Even if you don’t end up needing it, this is always an important item to carry with you in the High Country.
- First aid kit: An essential for any and all hikes.
- Water bladder: Carrying plenty of water is important and I find a water bladder is the best way to carry it with you.
Read next: The Ultimate Day Hike Packing List
The Mt Hotham Huts Walk follows mostly formed tracks, with a combination of 4WD management tracks, skinny hiking trails and roads. There are tall wooden signposts at intersections indicating distances to various points on the trail. In general, navigation is not a major concern for most of the walk.
However, there is in fact one section which proves this point wrong. If completing the trail clockwise, the 2km section from when the trail leaves the Australian Alps Walking Track to Spargo’s Hut is on an unmarked and not formed track. However, only a short section totalling about 300m is of real concern, as the rest does follow a vaguely worn track if you pay attention. The key to this section is to follow the orange snow poles along the ridge which will bring you to the trail down to Spargo’s Hut. If you read my detailed walk description above, it should make sense to you.
The map on the Mt Hotham Track Notes for the Huts Walk is quite useful and you can access it here.
If you plan on using a GPS app, neither Maps.Me nor AllTrails have the full Huts Walk entered or marked on the app. On Maps.Me, the trail is marked from Loch Car Park to Spargo’s Hut, but the section from there down to Cobrunga Ditch and back up to the Great Alpine Road is not on there.
There is no access to potable water along the trail. The three huts do not have rainwater tanks. However, if you were in desperate need of water, the trail does meet up with a running stream known as Swindler’s Creek at the bottom of the valley between Spargo’s Hut and the Cobranga Ditch trail.
Ensure that you carry at least three litres per person so you won’t need to worry about water along the way.
There is parking at both start/end points of the walk. The Davenport Access Track has a small gravel area off the side of the road for parking. Loch Car Park offers slightly more room for vehicles, but can be busy on weekends as other hikes also leave from there.
You could also park anywhere in Hotham village between the Davenport Access Track and Loch Car Park, as this 2.8km stretch of road is part of the complete circuit.
Read next: How to plan your food for hiking
The trail is never too far away from Hotham village, although it can certainly seem remote at times. The main dangers on the trail are the unpredictable weather and potential for snakes. If you pack correctly with gear and clothing suitable for all climates, you will be able to complete the walk in rain, hail or shine. However, it pays to check the forecast the day before you plan to hike to know what to expect.
Snakes can be a risk in the alpine area. The Alpine Copperhead is a venomous snake which lives above the snow line in Australia and is active almost all year round. I did see one during my hike in the middle of summer, on the Cobrunga Ditch Walking Track section. It pays to be aware of them and carry a snake bandage with you.
Nearby Mt Hotham walks
If you’re spending more time around the Hotham area and in the Alpine National Park, there are plenty of other Mt Hotham walks and trails to explore.
Mt Hotham summit walk | This short walk of about 3km return takes you from the Hotham village to the top of Mt Hotham summit. You can start just up from the main Corral Car Park where a management track leads to the summit. It offers panoramic views from the top.
Mt Feathertop summit | One of the most iconic mountains in the alpine region and one of the best trails in Victoria, Mt Feathertop is a must-do on any hiker’s bucket list. There are three trails leading up the mountain, but the Razorback Track is certainly the most popular. It begins at Diamantina Hut, just down from Hotham Heights. The 22km return trail can also be done as an overnight hike, with a night spent camping at Federation Hut.
Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing | This two night, three day hike is known as one of the most iconic multiday treks in Australia. The 37km hike links the two ski resorts of Falls Creek and Mt Hotham by crossing the spectacular Alps. It can be done in either direction or some solo hikers prefer to make it a loop which is also possible by connecting to other trails for the return. Read more on Parks Vic website here.