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Best Hikes In Australia: Mt. Feathertop via the Razorback Trail

Basic Trail Information

  • Name: Razorback Trail
  • Where: Mt. Feathertop, Victoria
  • Elevation: 6,306 feet (1,922 meters)
  • Distance: 14 miles (22.5 km)
  • Difficulty: moderate to difficult
  • Time: 9 hours
  • More Info: Walks, Tracks and Trails of Victoria

mount feathertop australia victoria

Map of the Trail:

Narrative

The Razorback Trail was one of the best hikes I completed in Australia.  It is a trail that crosses a rocky spur that leads to the summit of beautiful Mt. Feathertop in the Victorian Alps.  However, it takes a scenic drive up The Great Alpine Road to access the trailhead to this popular walk.  The Great Alpine Road travels for 308 kilometers over the heart of Victoria’s high country between the inland, farming city of Wangaratta and the seaside city of Bairnsdale.

The Razorback Trail is located just outside the half way point of the drive at Mt. Hotham.  I have been up to Mt. Hotham before and even attempted the Razorback Trail before, but had to turn around due to bad weather that can at any time hit the Victorian high country.  The day I attempted to hike the Razorback again it was a mostly cloudless and beautiful fall day.  As I drove up the Great Alpine Road once again I could see the round summit of Mt. Hotham where the trail begins out in the distance:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

To the west of Mt. Hotham I could see the ridgeline the Razorback Trail follows to the summit of Victoria’s second highest peak, the stunning 1,922 meter Mt. Feathertop:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

Here is a closer look at Mt. Feathertop that had a slight dusting of snow on it from a recent autumn snow storm:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

You can see plenty more prior pictures I took of beautiful Mt. Feathertop at this link.  I think it is the mainland Australia’s most scenic mountain.  I say mainland because the most beautiful mountains in Australia in my opinion are found on the island of Tasmania, most notably Cradle Mountain.  The glaciers that once blanketed Tasmania during the Ice Age carved extremely rugged peaks on the island.  However, these glaciers didn’t blanket the mainland thus causing the mountains there to have rounded features instead of having dramatic rocky peaks like those found on Tasmania.  That is what makes Mt. Feathertop so unique, it is one of the few large mountains on the mainland that is not completely rounded and actually has some rocky features to it.

The Great Alpine Road that takes visitor deep into these mountains is a steep, winding journey up to the top of the Victorian Alps:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

Eventually the road reached the top of the mountains where I pulled over to take this picture of my Jeep at Danny’s Lookout:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

From Danny’s Lookout the rugged Mt. Buffalo can be seen out in the distance:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

Here is a view of the Great Alpine Road as it snakes its way up the rounded summit of Mt. Hotham:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

The Mt. Hotham ski resort lies just on the other side of the mountain out of view.  Here is a view of the Great Alpine Road that I already traversed as it snakes its way along the side of these steep mountains:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

From this lofty perch there are plenty of beautiful views of the adjacent valleys that lie between the steep slopes of these mountains:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

It is these steep slopes that make for such good ski conditions in this part of the high country.  Just a short drive from the trailhead for the Razorback is where one of Australia’s premier ski areas, Mt. Hotham Ski Resort is located:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

The resort is quite nice, very large, and usually very busy during the winter ski season:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

You can view pictures of how busy Mt. Hotham is during the winter ski season at this link.  During the summertime many people come up to Mt. Hotham for mountain biking and to hike the various trails in the area.  However, since it was late fall and pretty cold outside the place had the feeling of a ghost town:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

Anyway I headed over to the trailhead for the Razorback Trail that is located just a short drive from the ski resort:

Picture from Mt. Feathertop

My wife dropped me off at the trailhead and proceeded to drive back to the cabin we were renting in the small town of Harrietville at the base of Mt. Feathertop.  My plan was hike from Mt. Hotham across the Razorback to the summit of Mt. Feathertop and then walk down the mountain to our cabin in Harrietville.  This was an ambitious hike to complete in one day but I had an early enough start and was fit enough to complete this long hike; I just needed the weather to cooperate with me this day and not force me to be turn around like what happened before.  From the trailhead it appeared that weather was not going to be a problem on this day as blue skies and a few puffy clouds backdropped the beautiful summit of Mt. Feathertop:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

As I began my walk across Australia’s Razorback Trail, the weather was cold, but overall I had clear skies and most importantly little to no wind that had thwarted my prior attempt to hike across this exposed ridgeline.  This map shows how trail crosses the ridgeline from the Diamantina Hut Carpark to the 1,922 meter summit of Mt. Feathertop:

The hike to the summit of the mountain is 11 kilometers and then it is 1 kilometer to reach Federation Hut and then another 10.5 kilometers down Bungalow Spur back to Harrietville for a total distance of 22.5 kilometers. This is an all-day hike so it is necessary to leave early in order to avoid bad weather that can sweep into the Victorian high country in the afternoons if this hike is attempted in one day.  Federation Hut is a great place to camp out if the hike is attempted in two days like many people do.  Below is a picture of the Razorback as viewed from the trailhead:

Picture from Mt. Feathertop

I started off on my hike across the Razorback Ridge and immediately there were beautiful views of the Victorian high country in all directions.  Here is a view looking towards the southeast:

Picture from Mt. Feathertop

Here is the view looking towards the south where out in the distance the rugged Mt. Buffalo is easily seen:

Picture from Mt. Feathertop

The Razorback Trail follows a long ridge line that is mostly exposed with few trees:

Picture from Mt. Feathertop

As I looked towards the highest peak in Victoria, the 1,986 meter Mt. Bogong out in the distance I could see that the clouds were building up over the high country as well as feeling a slight breeze:

I was hoping that the weather was not going to thwart my effort to climb Mt. Feathertop again, but to make sure I began to pick up my pace to cover more ground towards the summit.  Something I was surprised about while hiking across the Razorback was how few other hikers there were on the trail.  It was late autumn and it was cold outside, but I figured there would be more people out here on such a beautiful weekend day.  I saw two small groups of hikers pass by me coming in the other direction and I caught up and passed two hikers that were ahead me:

Later I saw a pair of hikers at the summit of Mt. Feathertop and then there was a few people camping out at Federation Hut.  So it ended up being a good time of the year to do this hike because of the few other hikers on the trail.  I have heard from others that the trail and Federation Hut in particular can get often clogged full of hikers during the summer; that is definitely not the case in the fall.

As I continued down the Razorback Ridge I could eventually see where the trail entered the tree line ahead of me:

Here is a picture of the trail looking back behind me towards Mt. Hotham:

The trees that engulfed the trail were a bunch of old gnarled snow gums which are probably the toughest trees in all of Australia due to their ability to grow at such an altitude that faces frequent cold weather:

Here are some dried out dead flowers I saw that I believe are Billy-Button that I have seen on other mountains in the Australian high country:

After a short while the trail exited the tree line and was once again following an exposed ridge line:

As I continued up and down the various peaks of the Razorback, the highest peak of them all, the 1,922 meters (6,306 feet) Mt. Feathertop continued to hover up ahead in the distance:

As I continued to hustle down the trail, Mt. Feathertop came closer and closer:

Eventually the peak was right in front of me and the clouds were getting darker at the same time.  I was going to have to continue to hustle and get up to the summit of the mountain:

From the Razorback Trail, Federation Hut eventually came into view:

At this large old snow gum tree is where the Razorback Trail intersects with the Bungalow Spur Trail that leads hikers down to Federation Hut and further down the mountain back to Harrietville:

I instead took the short trail that led up to the summit of Mt. Feathertop.  Here is the view looking back towards that large old snow gum tree as I headed up to the summit of Mt. Feathertop:

From the trail junction it is only about 1.5 kilometers up to the summit of Mt. Feathertop, but it is a some what steep hike:

As I hiked up the trail I noticed the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club (MUMC) Hut:

For those interested more details about the hut can read at the above link.  There is a trail that leads down to the hut, but due to the oncoming weather I had no time to check it out and just continued to push forward to the summit of Mt. Feathertop, would I make it before the bad weather hit?:

The summit of the 1,922 meter Mt. Feathertop was getting nearer as I continued to hustle up the trail in hopes of climbing the mountain before the impending bad weather hit.  The clouds were getting darker and darker as more time passed:

As I continued up the trail even up at this high altitude in late fall I was able to spot some of the colorful billy-button flowers:

I then could see the summit just ahead of me:

The large rocky cliffs on the summit were quite impressive to see on the way up to the summit:

As I reached the top of the trail I could see that the highest point of the mountain was just ahead:

The top of Mt. Feathertop is really quite long with plenty of room for people to hang out.  When I reached the summit of the mountain I saw only two other people up there who were on their way back down.  With the impending clouds beginning to surround the summit of the mountain I was going to have to get off this mountain too, but not before enjoying the views that could still be seen from the peak:

Here is the view from the summit of Mt. Feathertop looking towards Mt. Bogong which was cloaked in clouds:

Here is the view back towards Mt. Hotham:

This has to be one of the best views in all of Australia, but the clouds were quickly obscuring the views so I proceeded to head down the mountain towards Federation Hut:

At the hut I saw a few people camping out and the enjoying the views from this popular camp site.  Here is a view of the Razorback extending back towards Mt. Hotham from Federation Hut:

After admiring the view for a little while, I then proceeded to follow Bungalow Spur Trail back down to Harrietsville.  From the hut the trail becomes engulfed by various old snow gums:

Eventually the trail came to the remains of the Feathertop Bungalow Site that gives this trail its name:

This bungalow has an interesting history that can be read about at the above link.  From the bungalow as I continued down the mountain the trees became noticeably larger:

Eventually the trail reaches a stop called Picture Point:

Why this is called Picture Point I am not sure because I saw no place to take a picture because the trail was surrounded by a thick forest of gum trees.  However, further down the trail the gum trees parted enough to provide a view of Harrietville at the base of the mountain:

The forest surrounding this section of the trail was exceptionally beautiful as a thick coating of gum trees clung to the side of the mountain:

At the lower reaches of the trail the forest became even more lush as various bushes and large ferns covered the hill sides:

Eventually the trail leveled out and a cabin came into view:

I then heard some noise in the bush along side of me and noticed these horses walking around:

I eventually came to the sign designating the start of the Bungalow Spur Trail.  From here it is 12 kilometers to the summit of Mt. Feathertop:

By now it was getting pretty late with the sun beginning to set over the tree tops:

So I walked across town to the Harrietville Cabins & Caravan Park, which I highly recommend to anyone visiting this beautiful area of Victoria:

Conclusion

The walk back to my cabin concluded my hike across the Razorback to the summit of Mt. Feathertop, and back down to Harrietville.  This definitely was one of the best hikes I completed in Australia and definitely my favorite hike in Victoria.  If you have time to do just one day hike in Victoria the Razorback Trail and Mt. Feathertop should top your list.

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