Larapinta Trail sections

The Larapinta Trail is broken into 12 sections, each with trailhead access. The trail can either be walked in full (referred to as the Larapinta 223 or end-to-end) or backpackers can hike smaller portions of it – anything from one Section up. The official direction of the Larapinta Trail is east to west – starting at Alice Springs and finishing at the summit of Mount Sonder. You can walk the trail in either direction though. When we hiked it, there seemed to be an equal number of walkers going both ways. 

If you only want to walk part of the Larapinta Trail, which sections you pick will depend on the time you’ve got available, your fitness and logistics. See Larapinta Trail itinerary for options. 

Below you’ll find guides to each section of the Larapinta Trail. Alternatively, jump straight to itinerary examples and our thoughts on which direction is best to hike the Larapinta Trail. 

Section guides

Section 1 - Alice Springs Telegraph Station to Simpsons Gap

Quick guide to Section 1

  • Distance: 24.7km (15.3 miles)
  • Recommended time: 9 hours over 2 days, according to the Larapinta Trail map pack (breaks excluded)
  • Our time: 6 hours 20 minutes, excluding lunch, over 1 day
  • Track difficulty: Moderate to Difficult is the official track rating
  • Terrain: Rocky, but less so than the other sections of the trail. The trail surface is dirt and sand closer to Alice Springs. Some smaller climbs with 100m ascents or so.
  • Tip: The views from Euro Ridge over Alice Springs are spectacular. Rock wallabies frequent the eastern side of Euro Ridge.
  • Campsites: Wallaby Gap (water, toilets)
  • Our rating:

The official Larapinta Trail map pack recommends walkers split this section into 2 days. We walked it in one day (and walked on to Alice Springs from the Telegraph Station) with no problem. 

Section 2 | Back to top

Section 2 - Simpsons Gap to Jay Creek

QUICK GUIDE TO SECTION 2

  • Distance: 26.2km (16.3 miles)
  • Recommended time: 8 hours 30 minutes over 2 days, according to the Larapinta Trail map pack (breaks excluded)
  • Our time: 6 hours 25 minutes, excluding lunch, over 2 days
  • Track difficulty: Moderate to Difficult is the official track rating. This was the easiest section of the trail in our opinion.
  • Terrain: Straight forward, mainly flat and dirt.
  • Tip: Bond Gap (by the 8km trail marker) was beautiful and a great little detour. The distance markers seemed a bit off on Section 2 - eg Mulga Camp is at 16.4km in according to the map book, but is located between the 14km and 15km trail markers.
  • Campsites: Mulga Camp (water, toilets)
  • Our rating:

Section 3Back to top

Section 3 - Jay Creek to Standley Chasm

QUICK GUIDE TO SECTION 3

  • Distance: 13.6km (8.5 miles)
  • Recommended time: 5 hours 30 minutes, according to the Larapinta Trail map pack (breaks excluded)
  • Our time: 5 hours 50 minutes, excluding lunch
  • Track difficulty: Moderate to Difficult is the official track rating. We found this the most difficult section of track, due to finding the river rock really slow going to walk on.
  • Terrain: Lots of river rock.
  • Tip: 4.6km in you'll have the option to choose between taking the standard path and the alternate high route. The standard path continues mainly on river rock, while the high route involves a climb with spectacular views. If you are walking east to west, we'd recommend the high route, as this would be the first ridge walk of your trip. If you're walking west to east, you'll have had a couple of days of ridge walking, so would recommend you choose what you feel like. Standley Chasm campsite has hot showers
  • Campsites: Millers Flat (no facilities)
  • Our rating:

Section 4 | Back to top

Section 4 - Standley Chasm to Section 4/5 Junction

QUICK GUIDE TO SECTION 4

  • Distance: 16.7km (10.4 miles)
  • Recommended time: 8 hours 30 minutes over two days, according to the Larapinta Trail map pack (breaks excluded)
  • Our time: 7 hours 5 minutes over two days, excluding lunch
  • Track difficulty: Difficult is the official track rating. We agree.
  • Terrain: Rocky ridges with steep ascents / descents
  • Tip: Camp at Brinkley Bluff! It's spectacular and well worth carrying the extra water up to. We had phone signal with both Telstra and Optus at Brinkley Bluff.
  • Campsites: Brinkley Bluff (no facilities)
  • Our rating:

Section 5 | Back to top

Section 5 - Section 4/5 Junction to Hugh Gorge

QUICK GUIDE TO SECTION 5

  • Distance: 14.9km (9.3 miles)
  • Recommended time: 9 hours 30 minutes over two days, according to the Larapinta Trail map pack (breaks excluded)
  • Our time: 8 hours 50 minutes over two days, excluding lunch
  • Track difficulty: Difficult is the official track rating. We agree.
  • Terrain: Rocky ridges with steep ascents / descents, plus two gorge crossings
  • Tip: We were pleased we broke Section 5 into two days. Don't let the distance fool you, as the terrain is tough. Plus Section 5 has some of the most spectacular views of the whole Larapinta Trail, so it was nice not to have to rush. Razorback Ridge is a highlight of this leg. Fringe Lily is also beautiful - lush foliage with wild budgies flying between the trees.
  • Campsites: Hugh Gorge Junction (no facilities), Fringe Lily Creek (no facilities)
  • Our rating: 

Section 6 | Back to top

Section 6 - Hugh Gorge to Ellery Creek

QUICK GUIDE TO SECTION 6

  • Distance: 30.3km (18.8 miles)
  • Recommended time: 11 hours over two days, according to the Larapinta Trail map pack (breaks excluded)
  • Our time: 8 hours 5 minutes over two days, excluding lunch
  • Track difficulty: Moderate to Difficult is the official track rating. In our view, Section 6 is 'moderate to difficult' because of its length. When walked over two days, we'd describe it as 'moderate', as it didn't feature any big climbs and the path was pretty good.
  • Terrain: Dirt and rock path
  • Tip: Ellery Creek is an awesome spot for a swim.
  • Campsites: Ghost Gum Flat (no facilities), Rocky Bar Gap (water, toilet)
  • Our rating:

Section 7Back to top

Section 7 - Ellery Creek to Serpentine Gorge

Ellery Creek Big Hole is an awesome spot for a swim and to soak your feet in some cool water. 

Ellery Creek Big Hole is an awesome spot for a swim and to soak your feet in some cool water. 

QUICK GUIDE TO SECTION 7

  • Distance: 13.1km (8.1 miles)
  • Recommended time: 5 hours 30 minutes, according to the Larapinta Trail map pack (breaks excluded)
  • Our time: 3 hours 50 minutes, excluding lunch
  • Track difficulty: Moderate to Difficult is the official track rating. In our view, Section 6 is 'moderate to difficult' because of its length. When walked over two days, we'd describe it as 'moderate', as it didn't feature any big climbs and the path was pretty good.
  • Terrain: Rocky but reasonably flat. Sharp dolomite rocks line much of Section 7.
  • Tip: Today's a short hike day. Both Ellery Creek and Serpentine Gorge are really pretty -  we'd recommend having a lazy breakfast at whichever one you start at to take it in.  
  • Campsites: Ellery Creek (water, toilet, food drops), Serpentine Gorge (water, toilet)
  • Our rating:

Section 8Back to top

Section 8 - Serpentine Gorge to Serpentine Chalet Dam

Counts Point. Section 8 follows the ridge line towards Counts Point before descending to Serpentine Chalet Dam. 

Counts Point. Section 8 follows the ridge line towards Counts Point before descending to Serpentine Chalet Dam. 

QUICK GUIDE TO SECTION 8

  • Distance: 13km (8 miles)
  • Recommended time: 5 hours 30 minutes, according to the Larapinta Trail map pack (breaks excluded)
  • Our time: 4 hours 10 minutes, excluding lunch
  • Track difficulty: Moderate to Difficult is the official track rating. We'd agree.
  • Terrain: Some rocky ascents / descents, with several kilometres of beautiful ridge walking.
  • Tip: Counts Point is a great side walk. From the Counts Point Junction, follow the path to the edge of the ridge. There are cleared areas at Counts Point Lookout where you could camp.  
  • Campsites: Counts Point (no facilities)
  • Our rating: 

Section 9Back to top

Section 9 - Serpentine Chalet Dam to Ormiston Gorge

QUICK GUIDE TO SECTION 9

  • Distance: 28.3km (17.6 miles)
  • Recommended time: 12 hours over two days, according to the Larapinta Trail map pack (breaks excluded)
  • Our time: 9 hours 45 minutes, excluding lunch
  • Track difficulty: Difficult is the official track rating. We'd agree.
  • Terrain: A rocky ascent / descent, with several kilometres of beautiful ridge walking. Path is hard to follow at times. One gorge crossing (Inarlanga Pass).
  • Tip: If you were going to walk only one section of the Larapinta Trial, Section 9 is our suggestion. It travels through a variety of terrains, all of which are spectacular. There are camping spots on the ridge with fantastic views. We'd recommend the Mt Giles Lookout, where two camping spots have been cleared. It's between the 15km and 16km markers, right at the Serpentine Chalet Dam end of the ridge.  
  • Campsites: Mt Giles Lookout (no facilities), Hermits Hideaway (no facilities), Waterfall Gorge (no facilities)
  • Our rating: 

Section 10 | Back to top

There's quite a few side walk options along the Larapinta Trail. Don't miss the Pound Walk, at Ormiston Gorge. The Pound Walk is a 7km loop leaving from near the Ormiston Gorge kiosk. It climbs through the Pound, an area of rolling hills and cliffs, before looping back to its start through Ormiston Gorge. 

There's quite a few side walk options along the Larapinta Trail. Don't miss the Pound Walk, at Ormiston Gorge. The Pound Walk is a 7km loop leaving from near the Ormiston Gorge kiosk. It climbs through the Pound, an area of rolling hills and cliffs, before looping back to its start through Ormiston Gorge. 

Section 10 - Ormiston Gorge to Finke River

Section 10 weaves its way through the hills between Ormiston Gorge and the Finke River. You can spot Mount Sonder in the distance for much of the day too.

Section 10 weaves its way through the hills between Ormiston Gorge and the Finke River. You can spot Mount Sonder in the distance for much of the day too.

QUICK GUIDE TO SECTION 10

  • Distance: 9.1km (5.7 miles)
  • Recommended time: 4 hours, according to the Larapinta Trail map pack (breaks excluded)
  • Our time: 2 hours 35 minutes, excluding lunch
  • Track difficulty: Moderate is the official track rating. We'd agree.
  • Terrain: An easy path through rolling hills.
  • Tip: The Pound Walk at Ormiston Gorge is well worth doing.  
  • Campsites: Ormiston Gorge (water, toilet, food drop), Finke River (water, toilet)
  • Our rating:

Section 11 | Back to top

At Finke River, located between sections 10 and 11, you'll have the option to camp on the river bed.

At Finke River, located between sections 10 and 11, you'll have the option to camp on the river bed.

Section 11 - Finke River to Redbank Gorge

Hilltop Lookout features half a dozen cleared camping spots, where you'll be treated with unbeatable sunrise and sunset views of Mount Sonder. There's no water at though, so make sure you carry plenty.

Hilltop Lookout features half a dozen cleared camping spots, where you'll be treated with unbeatable sunrise and sunset views of Mount Sonder. There's no water at though, so make sure you carry plenty.

QUICK GUIDE TO SECTION 11

  • Distance: 26.3km (16.3 miles)
  • Recommended time: 9 hours 30 minutes over two days, according to the Larapinta Trail map pack (breaks excluded)
  • Our time: 9 hours over two days, excluding lunch
  • Track difficulty: Moderate to Difficult. We'd agree.
  • Terrain: A mix of climbs and winding through valleys.
  • Tip: Camp at Hilltop Lookout for awesome views over Mount Sonder at sunrise. Glenn Helen is a cool side trip too. It took us about an hour walk each way to get there from the intersection with the Section 11 track.  
  • Campsites: Finke River (water, toilet), Hilltop Lookout (no facilities), Rocky Bar Gap North (no facilities), Rocky Bar Gap (water, toilet), Redbank Gorge (water, toilet)
  • Our rating:

Section 12 | Back to top

Section 12 - Redbank Gorge to Mount Sonder Summit (and back)

Hiking up Mount Sonder at sunset. If you're comfortable with night hiking, we'd recommend watching the sun set from Mount Sonder - it's less crowded than sunrise and you don't need to get up at 3am to pull it off.

Hiking up Mount Sonder at sunset. If you're comfortable with night hiking, we'd recommend watching the sun set from Mount Sonder - it's less crowded than sunrise and you don't need to get up at 3am to pull it off.

QUICK GUIDE TO SECTION 12

  • Distance: 15km (9.3 miles)
  • Recommended time: 6 hours, according to the Larapinta Trail map pack (breaks excluded)
  • Our time: 5 hours 25 minutes, including dinner at Mount Sonder summit
  • Track difficulty: Moderate to Difficult. We'd agree.
  • Terrain: Climbing to the summit before descending down.
  • Tip: If you're comfortable with night hiking, we'd recommend watching the sun set from Mount Sonder - it's less crowded than sunrise and you don't need to get up at 3am to pull it off..  
  • Campsites: Redbank Gorge (water, toilet)
  • Our rating: 

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The summit of Mount Sonder at sunset. The summit marks either the start, or end of the Larapinta Trail, depending on which way hikers are walking it.  

The summit of Mount Sonder at sunset. The summit marks either the start, or end of the Larapinta Trail, depending on which way hikers are walking it.