Despite the fact that it’s most popular during the ski season, Lake Mountain is still home to some fantastic hiking trails which includes the near-on 15km Keppel Hut Return Trail.
I had visited Keppel Hut itself some 4 years ago during preparation for my first trip to New Zealand, but we had hiked there from Marysville via Lady Talbot Drive.
So, it was time to explore the area and a trail I had heard a little about.
To begin with, this trail can be done a number of ways from the car park of the Lake Mountain Alpine Resort, but I decided to approach it by going the most direct route.
If you’ve never been to the area before, it would be worth taking a map with you to navigate the initial maze through the ski field tracks hence why I opted for the most direct track.
Follow the wide, grassy path north along Royston Trail for 2-3kms passing the Melbourne Lookout and Triangle Junction.
This junction, and the one a little further north, is where a map will come in handy as there are plenty of lefts and rights you can take.
If you keep heading north you will pass the side track leading out to Lookout Rock where on a clear day you’ll be able to see various mountains including Mount Tamboritha.
Soon you’ll come across another junction where the Panorama Loop Trail starts and ends but if you head up the middle path and take a left (there is a sign!) you’ll continue on your way to Keppel Hut.
Heading north-west on Hut Loop Trail – it’s called this because it incorporates the trail to the Boundary Hut ruin – you’ll find yourself heading west at the official trailhead of the Keppel Hut Trail.
This is pretty much where the wide, grassy path ends and the narrow, overgrown path begins for much of the way to the hut.
It’s worth noting that whilst the path is somewhat overgrown, it’s still very much walkable.
You’ll find yourself gradually descending the trail from the mountain for roughly 1.5kms through the scrub until you arrive at a 4WD track taking you to the area where the hut is located.
Keppel Hut really is a great place to visit whether it be for a few hours or an overnight stay.
The hut itself only has room for four people to sleep in the bunks, however, there is ample room outside to pitch tents should you have a bigger group.
Secondly, there’s a decent fireplace inside the hut with a couple of chairs which is a perfect spot to be should the rain or snow set in on a cold day. You can access firewood out the back of the hut located in a small shelter.
For those dropping in for the day, there’s a picnic table outside and enough room to park a car or two nearby.
Finally, there’s a drop toilet not too far from the hut and a small stream that, when running fast enough, is suitable to filter water from.
To get back to Lake Mountain, simply go back the way you came. If you’ve got time, be sure to take a quick side trip to the Boundary Hut Ruins via the Hill Loop Trail.
At 1490m, this is also the location of the highest point in the Yarra Ranges National Park.
Overall, the Keppel Hut Return Trail is a fantastic trail which involves well-formed and well-signed trails, as well as a really nice hut to drop in a visit.
The overgrown section, while certainly walkable, may not be suitable for those who are just getting into hiking.
This is yet another reason why you should carry a map with you when attempting this hike, or any others in the area for that matter.
Whilst you could take a topographical map of the area with you, the map that you can get from the resort cafe is more than enough. Make sure it’s open though or you’ll go without.
I’d probably recommend this hike to those who are confident in their abilities to navigate a somewhat overgrown path, as well as those who are keen to see a little more of the Lake Mountain area.
As you’ll see below, I managed to complete it in 4 hours at a decent pace, but I would say on average it should take you anywhere between 4-5.5 hours to complete depending on your pace.
If you have the WikiLoc app, you can download and follow this trail by clicking here.
The Stats – Keppel Hut Return Trail via Lake Mountain
Length (km): 14.76km (according to WikiLoc)
Time: 3hr 54mins
Moving Time: 2hr 39mins
Difficulty: Moderate (Grade 3)
Maximum Elevation: 1484m
Accum. elev. uphill: 459m
Accum. elev. downhill: 459m
Return/Circuit/One Way: Loop/Circuit