Mt Isobel dominates every angle of Hanmer Springs, from the pools to the main street, to the highway and along many of the trails – no wonder it is arguably Canterbury’s most climbed mountain.
There are a variety of tracks onto it with the most direct being that off Jacks Pass, 869m, which also reduces the ascent considerably but does entail driving first to Jacks Pass via this rather rough steep road. It is however easily negotiated by 2WD vehicles. Jacks Pass can also be reached via Chatterton River Track. The track above Jacks Pass hold numerous species of sub-alpine plants and hebes and is worth exploring in its own right on a fine day when the combination of native flora and spectacular views make this face very attractive as a destination.
Above the pass the route winds up and over several small knobs, where there are more grand views, to reach the Mt Isobel Track junction. The main track to the summit is the Mt Isobel Track which traverses the hillside southwest of the summit, from the Clarence Valley Road carpark, above the Dog Stream catchment, links with the upper end of the Waterfall Track and climbs directly to the summit ridge at 1195m.
From here there is a spectacular and relatively easy walk east along the crest climbing slowly to the summit at 1342m. The view from the peak offers an extensive panorama of the Hanmer Basin, Waiau Plain, Organ and Hanmer ranges, and on into the Clarence Valley. A poled route continues on, east, over to Jollies Pass itself but this will necessitate a vehicle shuttle to the 4WD route over Jollies Pass.
- 1324m high.
- On a fine day it is an excellent place for lunch but make sure you carry water with you as there is none available on this hike.
- Care should also be taken above the bushline in winter when heavy snow and ice is often present, and if strong winds are forecast, as the ridgeline is very exposed to the weather.