Lake Mountain is known for its excellent cross country ski trails during the winter months but it has more to offer than just snow and tobogganing when the weather warms up. Only two hours from Melbourne, it’s a hit with skiers but these days has become more popular with bushwalkers and mountain bike riders. With over 30 kms of trails, that weave their way amongst the snowgums, the stunning heathland, the wild flowers and natural beauty of an alpine environment – there is something for everyone.
I’ve worked at this mountain as a professional ski guide and as a recreational skier since 1989 and I knew it inside out. But after the 2009 fires, I couldn’t visit Marysville let alone the mountain for some years. Fortunately, I made my way up to the mountain more recently and was pleasantly surprised by the infrastructure and regrowth that has happened in nine years.
Let’s set the record straight – there is no lake at Lake Mountain. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to put tourists on the right track on that one. Lake Mountain was named after George Lake, who was the Surveyor-General of the area including the mountain.
What was previously one building a storage sheds for groomers is now multiple large buildings for Ski Patrol, Ski School, Ski Hire, Cafe, Toilets and more. It’s an excellent set up and well overdue.
Despite being a little disoriented at first, I was able to follow the trails (picturing them with snow) and making my way around the mountain to familiar sites. What a buzz yet filled with grief. The snowgums are beautiful with their stark white trunks set against the blue alpine sky. Yet they are all dead and regeneration is slow and challenging. This place will never be as it was, but perhaps will evolve into something new and better (crossing my fingers behind my back as I wrote that).
Prior to going up to the mountain you can download maps from the Lake Mountain Resort website here. They are excellent and it’s a good place to start, particularly if this area is unfamiliar to you.
- How to get to Lake Mountain from Melbourne
- Resort Map
- Ski trails and snowshoeing Map
- Walking and Recreation Trails Map
- Mountain Bike Trails Map
I would also recommend you check the weather, particularly if you’re coming from Melbourne. What may be calm and windless in one place can be stormy and unpleasant on the mountain.
There is a cafe on the mountain if you’d like to utilise that for a meal and coffee but there is also free undercover bbq facilities available. The cafe is open 9am – 4pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday. You can contact them directly on 03 5957 7253. I’d suggest you bring some basic food and all the water you need (just in case) and plan for a big day out. You always have the opportunity to stop at one of Marysville’s great eateries on the way up or down.
Just as a side note, the water at the resort comes from the Echo Flat area of the ski trails. This is actually where the Taggerty River starts and it is an unprotected catchment. Under the provisions of section 6 of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Minister for Health has declared the water not suitable for drinking. Therefore, bring all your own water or you can purchase bottled water at the cafe on the mountain.
So let’s start at the beginning as you leave Marysville. The resort is 22kms from town and will take you longer than you might expect as the road is windy and you need to take care as there are often many drivers (particularly motor bikes) going to and from the resort.
You can stop at a few points along the way if you need a break but you should be there in around 20 minutes. No toilets on the way so use the ones in Marysville.
There are a number of car parks on the way up but you’re looking for the very top one where there are two large buildings and massive car parking.
This photo to above is one of the Information Boards that will help you get oriented and give you ideas of what you can do.
Here you make choices: Do you walk to the summit of Lake Mountain, venture on the Flying Fox, go for a walk, have a picnic. I’d suggest a walk to start with. It takes 10 minutes to walk up to the Snow Gauge and is a gentle uphill walk easy for most people. Then it flattens out from there. In summer the trails can be tussocky but easy to walk on.
Make sure you have a map with you so you know where you’re going. Most trails loop and you can branch off at one point and end up at another that links up with your original starting point.
You can walk on many of the trails that will take you right out to the back of the Resort where in winter I’ve seen antechinus footprints in the snow or wombats shuffling under tree trunks to hide from the wide. In summer, you will see kites, currawongs, wrens, wombats, the occasionally wallaby or kangaroo and lots of skinks. Why not take the opportunity to bring a picnic and have a culinary experience in the alpine world. Beware the march flies are vigilant and I’d bring insect repellant with you.
If you’re not a big bushwalker, then try the walk up to the summit of Lake Mountain which tops out at the almighty figure of 1443m (highest point is 1480 on the Hut Trail). Mt Bogong which is the highest mountain in Victoria is at 1986 metres. If the weather is clear, the views from the lookouts are stunning and with any luck, you may even be able to see Melbourne highrises.
You can engage a professional environmental officer named Sue who can be contacted on 03 5957 7222 or emailing her at email@example.com. Sue’s experience in flora and fauna is exceptional and will give you an insight into the environs that you may otherwise miss without her knowledge. Ideally you would have a group of 4+ to engage her services and you will need to prebook.
Up for Adventure?
Having spent some time in Northern Italy in 2016 I was thrilled to see how the managers of the ski resorts utilise their facilities all year round with mountain bike riding and other activities. This is what is unfolding at Lake Mountain. They have installed an amazing 240-metre Dual Flying Fox that is easily accessible from the car park. It’s an absolute hoot and highly recommend.
In summer there is also the ‘tube run’ which is a ski trail where plastic is laid down the trail along with water and in a tube you can go for a hoot down the hill.
Finally, Laser Skirmish. This is new and who wouldn’t love the chance to pop some of your friends with paint. For more information on the Adventure Activities, go to the website here.
Operation of the flying fox, tube run and laser skirmish are subject to weather conditions in the White Season. For these activities and guided wildflower walks, group bookings are essential in the Green Season. (quoted from the website).
The Resort continues to do great work on expanding the mountain bike trails around the area with over 20kms of single tracks that caters for the beginner to the advanced. You can bring your own bike or hire them at the Lake Mountain Cafe & Visitor Centre which includes a helmet. The bikes are Kona mountain bikes and are in very good condition. Costs $15 for two hours or $25 for a whole day.
If you’d like to camp up on the mountain, you MUST contact the resort management for permission a there are designated camping areas. Remember this is alpine heathland and extremely sensitive to overuse.
NOTE – During the summer months when there is a day forecasted for Code Red Fire Danger, the resort will be closed. If you need more information visit Parks Victoria here.
The Ski Trails are also the walking trails and here are the distances below (taken directly from the Resort website). This will give you an idea of the distance and time it may take you to venture around the area.
Walking / Ski Trails
- Echo Flat Loop – 1.5 km
- Snow Gum – 1.5 km
- Muster – 2.6 km
- Echo Flat – 6 km
- Roystone – 2 km
- Woollybutte – 2 km
- Panorama – 3.5 km
- Long Healthed – 3 km
- Jubilee – 6 km
OPENING HOURS: 24/7 during summer months. Limited in winter.
LOCATION: Lake Mountain Alpine Resort, 1071 Lake Mountain Road, Marysville
PHONE: (03) 5957 7222. There is only Telstra 3G coverage on the mountain.
PARKING: There are two large carparks close to the buildings at the Resort and a few more further down the road to Marysville but these are used as spillover carparks in winter.
TRANSPORT: There is no public transport to Lake Mountain during summer. You can drive or ride your bike up the mountain.
DISABLED ACCESS: Around the buildings it’s pretty good but not on the trails and tracks.
ATM: There is no ATM on the mountain during summer although if the cafe is open they have EFTPOS.
ENTRANCE FEE: No fee during summer
DOGS: This is part of the Alpine Resorts Commission and therefore, no pets allowed.
TOILET FACILITIES: Toilets within the buildings
Lake Mountain Resort on Twitter click here.
Instagram @lakemountainresort and #lakemoutainresort
WEBSITE: Lake Mountain Resort
Now it’s your turn. Share your stories of spending time at Lake Mountain during the summer months. Leave a comment below.