Lake Sylvan Track
*Lake Sylvan track is currently inaccessible. On 21 September 2023, Lake Sylvan bridge, the only access from the Sylvan Campsite to the Lake Sylvan Track, was destroyed in a flood. Check the latest DoC track conditions before heading out.
A peaceful stroll through native beech forests full of birdsong, to Lake Sylvan’s mountain views. Return via a historic mining tramline.
Distance: 5.2 km
Duration: 40 minutes one way to the viewing platform, or 1 hour 45 minutes for the loop track.
Best time of year to go: October – April. The track is boggy in wet weather.
Start / finish point: Follow the Glenorchy-Routeburn Road for about 25 minutes, before turning right to Lake Sylvan. Follow the DOC signs from the Lake Sylvan campground carpark.
Insider’s tip: The tramline loop is boggy and includes a river crossing, so do not attempt if it has been raining.
The Lake Sylvan Track experience
Take the track that leads from the campground carpark and cross the swing bridge over the Routeburn River. A 40-minute walk through red beech forested river terraces abundant with native birds takes you to beautiful Lake Sylvan. You may spot bush robins, fantails and riflemen.
Enjoy the views of the mountains of Mt. Aspiring National Park including Mt Earnslaw/ Pikirakatahi. On a calm day, the mountains are reflected in the lake’s glassy waters. A viewing platform over the lake gives you a panoramic view and superb photo opportunities.
If you wish to walk the full loop, continue around the lake, looking out for brown trout and native fish such as kokopu. You’ll come to a junction, where you take the right-hand track. Follow the orange triangles throughout this trail.
This section of the trail follows a historic tramline built in the 1920s to carry Sheelite from a nearby mine. You’ll pass old wooden sleepers and other remnants from the mining era as you amble along through the beech woods, past mossy fallen logs and beside streams. The trees are less dense here, so you’ll get the occasional open vista. There is a small river crossing before you rejoin the main track to the carpark.