Larapinta Trail suggested itineraries

This page has suggested itineraries for the Larapinta Trail. 

You should choose your walk based on the amount of time you have, your fitness level and experience.

One day walks

These are walks that will give you a feel for the trail without having to camp overnight.

Alice Springs Telegraph Station to Simpsons Gap

This is a long day-walk close to Alice Springs. 

You should start at Geoff Moss Bridge to fit the walk into a day. This cuts around 5km off the trip, making it a 18.9km walk, which will take around seven and a half hours hours. 

The walking conditions vary and it is a grade 3 - moderate walk.

If you want to do a return walk, you could hike to Wallaby Gap and back again. This is 17.2km from Geoff Moss Bridge and will take you seven hours.

Highlights of this walk include all of the following:

  • views over Alice Springs and the MacDonnell Ranges from Euro Bridge
  • walking towards Hat Hill Saddle
  • arriving at Simpsons Gap to watch black-footed rock wallabies at dusk.

Ellery Creek to Serpentine Gorge

This section is often overlooked as a day walk option, so you are more likely to have the path to yourself.

It is 13.8km long and should take 5.5 hours to walk. It is a grade 4 - moderate to difficult walk and the track is exposed to the elements.

If you start at Serpentine Gorge, it is worth doing a side trip up to the lookout.

Highlights of this walk include all of the following:

  • fascinating examples of Central Australian geology
  • dipping your toes in the cold water at Ellery Creek Big Hole.

Serpentine Gorge to Serpentine Chalet Dam

This is a challenging day walk with a steep climb to the top of Counts Point, which has stunning panoramic views. 

It is a grade 4 - moderate to difficult walk. 

You will need a drop-off and pick-up, or you can park your car at either end. 

This walk forms Section 8 of the Larapinta Trail. It is worth the effort if you enjoy a steep climb and descent and want to be rewarded with one of the best views along the trail. 

Access to Serpentine Chalet Dam is by high clearance four-wheel drive only, though you can walk out along the access track past the ruins to the two-wheel drive area. 

Another option is to extend your walk by 6.3km to the Ochre Pits on the Arrernte Walk. The Ochre Pits can be accessed by two-wheel drive. 

Highlights of this walk include all of the following:

  • enjoying a well-deserved break at Counts Point
  • views over the Alice Valley along the ridge
  • views of Mt Sonder in the distance.

Section 10: Ormiston Gorge to Finke River

This is one of the shortest and most popular sections of the Larapinta Trail. 

The track runs between Ormiston Gorge and Glen Helen Resort for just over 10km, taking four to five hours to walk.

You can leave your car at Ormiston Gorge and get a transfer back with Glen Helen Resort. It is best to book ahead - contact the resort on (08) 8956 7489 or info@glenhelen.com.au.

The scenery on this walk is varied and includes a hilltop lookout as well as passing through the dry Finke River.

Highlights of the walk include all of the following:

  • walking in the bed of one of the oldest rivers in the world
  • having a cool drink or ice-cream at Glen Helen Resort after a good day's walk.

Redback Gorge to Mt Sonder return

This walk starts and finishes at the same place. It is the last section of the trail and has fantastic views all the way.

This is a grade 4 - moderate to difficult walk.

A cairn on top of Mt Sonder marks the halfway point of the walk before you trek back.

The climb to the top is slow and steady and, although it's exhausting, you'll be rewarded with great views, especially on a clear day. 

The walk starts and finishes at the Redbank Gorge car park. You will need to drive for 5km from Namatjira Drive on unsealed road to get to the car park. A four-wheel drive is not essential, but a high clearance vehicle would be better.

Highlights of the walk include all of the following:

  • seeing the bright pink flowers of mountain hakea during September and October
  • arriving at the top of Mt Sonder, the fourth-highest mountain in the Northern Territory
  • glimpsing Tnorala / Gosse Bluff from the top of Mt Sonder on a clear day.

Two days

You will need to camp overnight to finish this walk.

Standley Chasm to Tangentyere Junction return

This is a challenging there-and-back walk if you don't want to organise transport. It is a grade 4 - moderate to difficult walk.

Park your car at Standley Chasm. You should let kiosk staff know that you are parking overnight and returning the next day. 

Walk to Millers Flat and take the high route to Tangentyere Junction. Walk back to Millers Flat along the low route and camp overnight. 

Highlights of the walk include all of the following:

  • seeing Standley Chasm before the crowds of midday tourists arrive
  • breathing in the fresh air along the high route after a challenging climb.

Two to three days

You will need to camp for at least two nights to finish this walk.

Ellery Creek to Serpentine Chalet Dam or the Ochre Pits

These sections of the Larapinta Trail are all grade 4 - moderate to difficult trails.

Start at Ellery Creek Big Hole and walk west to Serpentine Gorge. Set up camp and, if you have the energy, take the walk up to Serpentine Gorge lookout. 

The next day start early and walk the steep ascent to the ridgeline and along to Counts Point. 

Allow plenty of time along the ridge and at the lookout to admire the views over the Alice Valley. 

Camp overnight at Serpentine Chalet Dam. 

The road that goes by the Serpentine Chalet ruins to the trailhead can be used by four-wheel drives. 

As an alternative, you could walk part of the way along Section 9 of the track, drop your pack to look at Inarlanga Pass, and finish at the Ochre Pits, which has two-wheel drive access.

Otherwise finish at the two-wheel drive access point on the Serpentine Chalet road.

Highlights of this walk include all of the following:

  • having a long lunch at Counts Point
  • embracing some of the tourism history around Serpentine Chalet Dam and ruins.

Two to four days

You will need to be fit and camp for at least two nights to finish this walk. Stay longer if you want to make side trips.

Ormiston Gorge to Redbank Gorge

Ormiston Gorge to Finke River is a grade 3 - moderate walk. From Finke River the trail is a grade 4 - moderate to difficult walk. 

These sections make for a great weekend walk and, if you have a long weekend, try adding Section 12 as well. 

This part of the trail is very flexible and you can walk straight through or take side trips around Ormiston Gorge or to Glen Helen. 

If you're fit, walk from Ormiston Gorge to the Hilltop Lookout on Section 11 for an overnight camp. Continue on to Redbank Gorge the following day. 

If you've got more time on your hands, consider camping at Finke River, Rocky Bar Gap and then Redbank Gorge, with an early-morning walk up Mt Sonder on day four.

Highlights include all of the following:

  • walking in the shadows of Mt Sonder
  • birdwatching in different habitats, from mallee to spinifex to river red gum-lined watercourses and the ranges.

Four to five days

You will need at least four days to finish this walk.

Standley Chasm to Alice Springs

Standley Chasm to Jay Creek is a grade 4 - moderate to difficult walk. The remainder of the trail to Alice Springs is grade 3 - moderate.

Start at Standley Chasm and walk Sections 3, 2 and 1 of the trail to Alice Springs Telegraph Station over four or five days. 

You can then walk from the station into the centre of Alice Springs along the Riverside Walk or take a 10-minute taxi into town.

Highlights include all of the following:

  • walking past ancient cycad plants around Standley Chasm
  • taking the high route to Tangentyere Junction for spectacular views
  • getting your first view of Alice Springs as you walk back into town.

Five to six days

You will need at least five days to finish this walk.

Finke River to Ellery Creek

Finke River to Ormiston Gorge is a grade 3 - moderate walk. The remainder of the trail to Ellery Creek is grade 4 - moderate to difficult.

Start at Glen Helen Resort and walk to Ormiston Gorge along Section 10 of the trail. Spend some time exploring Ormiston Gorge and camp there overnight. 

The next day, walk Section 9 over two days. Camp at Waterfall Gorge. You will need to carry water to last two days.

Walk Section 8 in one day to Serpentine Gorge and then walk Section 7 in one day to Ellery Creek Big Hole. 

Highlights of the walk include all of the following:

  • taking the time to do the Ormiston Pound side trip without a pack
  • arriving at the top of Counts Point and seeing one of the best views on the trail
  • taking in the unique geology around Serpentine Gorge and Ellery Creek. 

Six to seven days

You will need at least six days to finish this walk. You could spend a week or longer if you choose to do side trips.

Redbank Gorge to Ormiston Gorge or the Ochre Pits

This trail is grade 4 - moderate to difficult, except for the trail from Finke River to Ormiston Gorge, which is grade 3 - moderate.

Start at Redbank Gorge and walk Section 12 of the trail with a day pack. Camp the night back at the gorge.

The next day, walk Section 11 and camp at either Rocky Bay Gap or Finke River. This section will take two days to cover if camping at Rocky Bar Gap or one big day if you camp at Finke River, depending on your fitness level. 

From Finke River walk Section 10 to Ormiston Gorge. 

Ormiston Gorge is a great spot to stay for a couple of days to explore or do some side walks.

Otherwise you can carry on to walk Section 9 over two days, camping at Waterfall Gorge. You will have to carry enough water to last two days on Section 9. 

You can leave Section 9 at the Ochre Pits, which is easily accessible by two-wheel drive and an easier place to be picked up from than Serpentine Chalet Dam. 

Highlights of this walk include all of the following:

  • watching the sunset behind Mt Sonder and getting some unbeatable photos
  • taking a side trip to Glen Helen for a warm dinner and a cold drink
  • camping at Finke River under a sea of stars.

Challenging itineraries

Try one of these walks if you are looking for a challenge.

Two days: Serpentine Chalet Dam to Ormiston Gorge

Section 9 is one of the longest sections on the Larapinta Trail and is a grade 4 - moderate to difficult walk. You will need to carry enough water to last two days. 

When you arrive at Ormiston Gorge, switch to a day pack to do the Ormiston Pound walk.

Highlights of this itinerary include all of the following:

  • views of Mt Giles, Alice Valley and Ormiston Pound from the lookout
  • catching a glimpse of a black-footed rock wallaby as you get closer to Ormiston Gorge.

Four to five days: Ellery Creek to Standley Chasm

From Ellery Creek to Hugh Gorge the trail is grade 3 - moderate. From Hugh Gorge to Standley Chasm, the trail is grade 4 - moderate to difficult.

Start at Ellery Creek and walk Section 6 of the trail over two days. Camp at Rocky Gully on the first night. Camp at Hugh Gorge the next. 

From Hugh Gorge, walk Section 5 in one day to Birthday Waterhole.

The Section 4 walk to Standley Chasm can be done in one hard day or a more leisurely two days.

Section 4 and 5 are remote and spectacular sections. They are the most demanding sections on the trail, so allow plenty of time.

Highlights of the walk include all of the following:

  • walking two of the most difficult, but scenically rewarding sections of the trail
  • taking in the 360-degree views from the top of Brinkley Bluff - camp here for the world's best sunrise 
  • walking from the exposed ridgelines of the Chewings Range to the sheltered gorges around Standley Chasm.

Larapinta 223: End to end

Larapinta 223 is the entire 223km walk from Alice Springs Telegraph Station to Mt Sonder.

The trail ranges from grade 3 - moderate, to grade 4 - moderate to difficult. Go to Larapinta Trail walking grades for the grades for each section.

You should allow 20 days for this remote and difficult walk, taking into account rest stops, side trips and time to restock food supplies.

You can walk the trail in either direction. Either way, you will experience challenging climbs and descents, spectacular views and scenery like nowhere else in the world. 

Many people choose to walk west to east, starting from Mt Sonder, as they can get dropped off at Redbank Gorge and continue to Alice Springs at their own pace. 

Otherwise there is nothing like the goal of Mt Sonder at the end of the trip if you don't mind walking to a deadline set by your transfer from Redbank Gorge back to Alice Springs.

If starting at Alice Springs, make sure to book your transfer before you start the trail.

Last updated: 27 June 2017