Rain forest walk around the uniquely stunning Lake Elizabeth
The Lake Elizabeth Loop is a rain forest walk in the Great Otways National Park. The walking trail to and around the lake is below canopy of giant Tree Ferns that sit beneath massive Eucalyptus Regnans that can grow over 100 metres tall and are considered the tallest flowering tree on Earth.
In total, the Lake Elizabeth walk is about 4.7 kms. The trail is pretty flat with a total elevation of just 53 metres, although there are a few very short parts of the track that could be considered steep.
From the car park or the Lake Elizabeth Campground, it’s about a one kilometre walk to Lake Elizabeth, the trail then loops around the perimeter of the lake.
It’s best to complete the walking trail during the day but if you are to come during the night, the sides of the trail are covered in glow worms.
The Lake Elizabeth Walking Trail is dog friendly. If your dog is on the lead, it can enjoy the entire Lake Elizabeth Loop.
How to find the place
Lake Elizabeth is a bit less than two and half hours from Melbourne, if you come direct via Winchelsea. It’s deep in the Otways forest, just near the town of Forrest. You can also come via the Great Ocean Road and that’s exactly how we recommend you get here, if you have the time for it. Here’s more information about getting to Lake Elizabeth.
Once you reach the car park or the Lake Elizabeth campground, there’s plenty of signs that lead you to the start of the walking trail.
Either choose to walk just to the lake and back, head a few hundred metres further to the Lake Elizabeth Beach and back or the full Lake Elizabath Loop where you’ll get to see everything.
The walking trail begins from a picnic area just near the main car park and campground. Get your camera ready because although it’s another ten-fifteen minutes to walk to Lake Elizabeth, the beauty of rain forest begins right away.
You’ll start to see some gum trees near 50 metres tall. Most of the large trees in the area were chopped down in the 1970’s, the new Eucalyptus trees have been growing at about 1 metre per year ever since. Although these tall, thin trees are already massive, they’re still just kids and are tiny compared to some of the giant trees that were logged here.
Once you get to the lake, you’ll be drawn to the jetty and canoe launching area that site right on the water. From here, you can either back step about 20 metres and loop around the lake to the left, or just keep following the track to the right of the jetty and head towards the Lake Elizabeth Beach.
Lake Elizabeth Beach
You can either head into the water for a swim at the beach on a hot day or keep continuing anti clock-wise around the Lake Elizabeth Loop.
If you’ve just come to see the beach, you’re going to be disappointed. It gets busy and is really just a small area of sandy dirt where you can easily enter the water. Our strongest advice is not to turn back and to keep going as the beach is already about one quarter of the way around the lake and the second half is unmissable.
Track down to the beach
Busy at the beach
The lake is a natural dam that caused by a landslide in the 70’s on the river, so you’ll cross the river at both ends of the lake but hardly notice.
At the far end of the lake, you’ll walk along a boardwalk and it feels as though you’re walking above a swampy part of the lake although you’ll be crossing the Barwon River East Branch.
After crossing the river and exiting the boardwalk, you’ll come to one of parts which is walking below the Tree Ferns with a constant view of the lake. It’s incredible.
The path gradually elevates until you’re about 5-10 metres above the lake. The Tree Ferns are huge, around 5-6 metres tall.
You’ll get a view of the Lake Elizabeth beach from the other side of the lake. This is probably the most beautiful part of the walk and a much cooler section of the track on a hot day as it’s out of the sun and below the cover of the Tree Ferns.
If it’s a really hot day, walk the loop around Lake Elizabeth in a clock-wise direction. This way, you’ll have the shade for the first 1/3rd of the walk, then you’ll get around to the Lake Elizabeth Beach for a swim, afterwards you’ll just have about 1/4th of the loop to get back to the main jetty/viewing area.
The walk continues with full sight of the lake and brings you back around to the track that heads back to the car park and camp ground.
Where to set the tent up
Just near the walking trail, about 700 metres from the lake itself is one of the best campgrounds in the entire Great Otways National Park. It’s a stunning place to set up a tent among the incredible Eucalyptus trees and Tree Ferns.
The campground is dog friendly and here’s loads more information about camping at Lake Elizabeth.