The Mt St Leonard and Condons Track in Healesville is, in my opinion, one of the toughest walks in the Yarra Ranges area in Melbourne.
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to spend the entire day with some awesome people from The Hiking Society MeetUp group as I led them through this 24.2km track.
Starting at the end of Donnelly’s Weir Road in Healesville, there is a small car park before Donnelly’s Creek and the gates of the picnic ground.
A short walk will take you to the picnic ground which gives you access to the picnic ground and the beginning of the hike to Mt St Leonard located to your right.
The first section of the track is a gentle incline on a short, wide path.
Within minutes you turn hard right and this is where you begin your gradual ascent to the Mt St Leonard lookout tower.
The first couple of hills on the mountain are fairly straight forward and aren’t as steep as the others later on.
If you want to prolong the hill climbs as long as possible, the first few hills do afford you the option of a side path that goes around them.
However, given the overall difficulty of the hike, my advice would be to jump right in and get your legs used to what you’re in for.
You do get some rest after these shorter hills as there are a few flat sections, so it’s not as if you are climbing hill after hill.
However, eventually the path does lead to hill climb after hill climb and this is where it becomes difficult.
More specifically, there is a section prior to the lookout tower where there are consecutive hill climbs.
My advice here would be to break down each section and have a break at the end of one.
By doing this, you don’t feel like you have to do everything in one effort.
After having a well-earned rest at the Mt St Leonard lookout tower, it was time to make our way down a steep hill to Monda Road.
The Monda Road section of the track is typical of the sorts of roads you would find in forest areas, and thus is much wider and flatter.
After doing all of those hills, this section of the hike is very much a cool-down/rest period.
Follow this road for some time and you will eventually come to a sharp corner which is where the Condons Track begins off to the right.
The first section of this track is wide and relatively flat. However, that all ends when you begin your descent down Condons Track.
The track becomes quite narrow, steep and very slippery. It’s overgrown in parts which means you have to contend with branches as you make your way down.
In saying that, and despite the difficulty of this section, the forest area here is really nice to go hiking in.
After what feels like forever, the track flattens out and you are back onto a wider path, which will take you all the way back to the picnic ground and the car park.
It’s about a 5km trek from this section back to the beginning of the track.
The Mt St Leonard and Condons Track is definitely not for those who are beginner hikers or for someone who goes hiking every so often.
If you are looking to do this, please consider your fitness levels, hiking experience and the gear that you have.
It’s such a rewarding hike for many reasons and would be great for those training for a future multi-day hike.
However, it is physically taxing if you haven’t done a similar distance or hills that are as steep as the ones you will encounter.
Furthermore, this version of the hike is done differently to how most do it: they start from the picnic ground, ascend Condons Track and descend Mt St Leonard.
I can see why some would do it this way, but my advice would be to hike the Mt St Leonard section first and ease yourself into those hills.
As usual, if you wish to do this hike in the future, please download my trail here at WikiLoc.
The Stats – Mt St Leonard and Condons Track
Length (km): 24.2km (according to WikiLoc)
Time: 7hr 15 mins
Moving Time: 6hr 47 mins
Average Speed: 3.33 km/h
Difficulty: Hard-Very Hard
Maximum Elevation: 1033m
Accum. elev. uphill: 1063m
Accum. elev. downhill: 1063m
Return/Circuit/One Way: Circuit