Easy Hut Hunting in Kosciuszko National Park
First up, I’d like to start with a disclaimer! There’s actually nothing easy about riding in the snowy mountains region of Kosciuszko National Park. The weather is incredibly changeable, the terrain is varied and mountainous, and it’s a pretty long way from anywhere.
However, I’m still calling this one an easy route, as you literally follow the same road in and out, and you get to visit three historic huts along the way.
Guthega Power Station
The starting point for the route is at Guthega Power Station. At all times of the year, except winter, you can access the car park in any vehicle, however you’ll need to purchase a National Parks pass at the ticket office on the way in, or in Jindabyne.
Driving to the starting point is a beautiful experience in itself, you wind your way up the mountains, hitting some exposed alpine plains amongst the wooded gum sections. Yellow lines on the road and red ‘snow’ posts on the verge are welcome and visible indicators of your arrival in the alpine region of Kosciuszko National Park.
The car park itself is a great starting point as there’s a toilet block, decent parking, and it’s only a few kilometres from Island Bend Campground in case you want to camp out the night before, or after, riding.
Schlink Pass Road, Kosciuszko National Park
Looking for a quick overnighter, Tyla and I left Canberra around lunchtime and drove up to the mountains, only stopping in Cooma for the obligatory pie.
We loaded up our bikes in the car park at Guthega Power Station, donned our rain jackets as there was a light drizzle and began pedalling into the misty mountains.
The first couple of kilometres of the ride also happen to be the hardest of the whole route, and will probably have you questioning how ‘easy’ this ride really is. If you’ve got good gearing, then you’ll want to slide straight into that granny gear and strap in for a steady climb right from the get-go. If you’re gearing’s not so good, you don’t like hills, or you’ve packed a few too many beers, then you’re looking at a hike-a-bike to start off your ride.
Hut Number One: Horse Camp Hut
After a few kilometres of hard climbing, the trail mellows out, and so did the weather. We were able to peel off a layer and enjoy some easier, more undulating, climbing for the next few kilometres.
I’ve done this ride and few times, but it was Tyla’s first time riding in Kosciuszko National Park. I’d been talking up the cuteness of the historic huts on this route, and the first one, Horse Camp Hut, did not disappoint. Following a small signpost, we rode the 500m detour towards the hut to arrive in the cutest, secluded glen you’ll come across.
Hut Number Two: Whites River Hut
After a nosy around Horse Camp, a few photos and a snack, we were back on the bikes and continuing up Schlink Pass for another 5km of climbing to the next hut.
At this point Tyla might have been questioning quite how ‘easy’ the route was, considering it was 90% uphill, but the moody and misty views up the valley made up for the hardship. While the gums lined the hillside, the centre of the valley looks like the kind of gorse heathland you’d find in Scotland. The weather was also distinctly Scottish, with the rain returning with a slight increase in tenacity.
Our arrival at Whites River Hut was a welcome sight and only a short detour from the main trail took us to the door. Well, not directly to the door, first there were a couple of small river crossings to navigate. The first crossing employed a steel bridge that was easily rideable. The second creek crossing, albeit short, was deeper than our bottom brackets meaning a bit of bike juggling and stone-stepping was in order to arrive with dry feet.
Hut Number Three: The Schlink Hilton
After another poke around the historic hut, we were back on the pedals for the final stretch up to Schlink Pass, the highest point of our journey.
From the pass it was a short roll of a couple of kilometres to the final hut on our journey, and our intended destination, the Schlink Hilton.
As we breached the pass, the rain began to fall even more heavily, and the wind which had been hitherto unnoticeable, reared its ugly head.
As we approached the Hilton, the clouds were darkening further and we passed a group of four waterlogged hikers with heavy packs. The Schlink Hilton has sweeping views and is one of the largest huts in Kosciuszko National Park. Perhaps because of this, it holds a little less charm for me than the others.
On arrival, and after a short look around, we decided that Whites River held more charm for us and for this trip, so we decided to head back and set up camp, still having a little time to arrive before dark.
There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Ride in Kosciuszko National Park
As we turned tail for Whites River Hut, the rain and winds intensified to the point that our fingers were numb and there was a definite chill to the air.
As we rolled down the mountain, a combination of mud, grit, and poor maintenance left me brakeless, with no option but to walk the descent to the hut. A problem that would continue for the whole second day and over 10km of walking my bike downhill to the car park.
Overnight, the rain and window continued unabated, and the shallow river crossings of the day before, had swelled in size. Luckily we were up early and making a fast start to the day, as a few more hours of rain would have led to an icy crossing.
Spirits undampened, the return to the car was nonetheless enjoyable because of the walking and the rain eased off a little as the morning continued.
This short up and back ride into Kosciusko National Park is not without challenge, but with camping options (with toilets) at each of the huts, and only one road in and out, I’d still consider it an easy option for bikepackers to get a taste of riding in this beautiful part of Australia. There’s nowhere quite like it.