31 August, 2021 By: Ryan Suckling
Perth locals don’t need to go far to experience stunning natural attractions, with a huge ‘green belt’ of national parks stretching from Yanchep National Park in the north to Yalgorup National Park just south of Mandurah.
A great way to explore them is on one of the many marked hiking trails that wind their way through the parks. There are trails to suit all fitness levels across a range of distances and landscapes, but all share spectacular views and an abundance of native flora and fauna.
Pull on your hiking boots, pack some water and food, and head out of the city this weekend.
1. Kitty’s Gorge, Serpentine National Park
Serpentine National Park, 1hr from Perth
|Time and distance||1-3hr, 7km each way or 14km loop|
|Difficulty||Grade 3 – moderate with some steep hills|
|Best time to do it||All year round - gates at Serpentine Falls open between 8:30am and 5pm|
|Starting point||Car park opposite the cemetery in Jarrahdale|
|Facilities||Barbeques, picnic area and public toilets|
From the old logging town of Jarrahdale, the Kitty’s Gorge trail winds through waterfalls and granite outcrops from the Jarrahdale Cemetery to Serpentine Falls. Making its way through the heart of the Serpentine River valley and Gooralong Brook, you can stick to the one-way trail or opt for the 14km return.
You should be aware the journey back from the falls has some steep ascents and can be fairly challenging, so you might want to organise a car shuffle if sticking to one-way. But if you’re looking to get your heart racing, launching from Serpentine Falls will certainly do the trick.
Setting off from the more popular starting point at Jarrahdale means you can also add a walk past the flowing waterfalls and brooks of Stacey’s Loop. It’s an easy 1.9km trail, perfect during late winter and spring when there’s an abundance of wildflowers.
2. Eagle View Walk Trail, John Forrest National Park
John Forest National Park, 30min from Perth
|Time and distance||5-6hr, 15km loop|
|Difficulty||Grade 4 – challenging with steeps hills|
|Best time to do it||April to October for wildflowers and flowing streams|
|Starting point||Ranger’s office|
|Facilities||Barbeques, picnic area, kiosk and public toilets|
This popular circuit trail takes you through the lesser-known northern areas of WA’s oldest national park, with spectacular views over the Swan Coastal Plain. The trail was designed to be taken in a clockwise direction, but you can also tackle it anti-clockwise.
Once you set off from near the Ranger’s Office, you’ll be guided downhill along Jane Brook Valley past the epic National Park Falls and then up a steep hill to a wonderful lookout over the city. The trail is very well sign-posted with an eagle silhouette pasted on yellow markers that lead walkers to the streams of Christmas Tree Creek and Hovea Falls.
Of all the trails in John Forrest it is the most challenging. Some of the tracks are very steep, with 250m ascents up from the valley floor, but you’ll be rewarded with great views on the journey – especially when you reach the Eagle lookout. The stretch along Christmas Tree Creek also blooms with wildflowers during late winter and spring.
3. Ghost House Walk Trail, Yanchep National Park
Yanchep National Park, 45min from Perth
|Time and distance||5hr, 12.4km loop|
|Difficulty||Grade 3 – moderate with some short steep hills|
|Best time to do it||April to October for wildflowers|
|Starting point||Car park at McNess House Visitor Centre|
|Facilities||Barbeques, picnic area, café, shop, tavern and public toilets|
Despite the name, the best thing about this trail isn’t the ‘ghost house’ but the serene lakes and wetlands abundant with birdlife. Starting at McNess House Visitor Centre, the trail joins the boardwalk of the Wetlands Trail and makes a circuit around Loch McNess to end at Cabaret Cave.
You’re likely to spot kangaroos at the start and come across some interesting granite outcrops along the way. Yanchep is known for the caves that lead off the trail, and once you get to the halfway point at Shapcott’s campsite there’s a narrow path to a small cave and cliff area with a great lookout over the wetlands.
The ghost house in question is the remains of a small sandstone dwelling, but against the greenery of the bushland it looks as if you could enter a secret garden through the doorway - an ideal spot for photos and a quick rest.
While you’re at Yanchep, make sure you pay a visit to the koala boardwalk to catch the furry creatures gnawing on eucalypt leaves or perched asleep on the branches.
4. Echidna Trail, Walyunga National Park
Walyunga National Park, 1hr from Perth
|Time and distance||3-4hr, 11km loop|
|Difficulty||Grade 3 – moderate with some steep ascents and descents|
|Best time to do it||March to November for flowing streams and wildflowers|
|Starting point||Walyunga Pool|
|Facilities||Barbeques, picnic area, camping and public toilets|
Best undertaken in an anti-clockwise direction to avoid the slippery hills, the Echidna Trail winds through the rugged valley of Walyunga National Park with superb views over the Swan River and Avon Valley. Starting at the Walyunga Pool, it runs along the river past Syd’s Rapids and then enters a steep incline to Woodsome Hill, from which you’ll get panoramic views over the area.
From here you’ll head into a vibrant heathland full of birdlife and native wildflowers in season – perfect for a spring day out.
The area is also of immense cultural significance to the Nyoongar people as an ancient meeting place.
5. Rocky Pool Walk, Kalamunda National Park
Kalamunda National Park, 30min from Perth
|Time and distance||2hr, 5km loop|
|Difficulty||Grade 5 – challenging hike with steep hills and stony descents|
|Best time to do it||August to November for the abundant wildflowers|
|Starting point||Car park at the end of Spring Road|
The Rocky Pool swimming hole forms the centrepiece of this loop trail nestled in Kalamunda National Park. The trail kicks off at the end of Spring Road at the car park and over to Piesse Brook to eventually join the Bibbulmun Track, passing through woodlands of jarrah, marri, wandoo and butter gum.
If you’re looking for a challenge, then this is the trail for you. There are many sections with steep hill climbs toward the end of the Bibbulmun Track but it does even out once you cross the bridge over the water course. Be mindful there are also some descents with loose stones.
But with the steeper terrain comes marvellous views over the valley covered with dense forest and seasonal wildflowers.
6. Carmel Walk Trail, Korung National Park
Korung National Park, 35min from Perth
|Time and distance||1.5hr, 5.1km loop for two sections|
|Difficulty||Grade 3 – moderate with some slight hills|
|Best time to do it||March to November but from August for wildflower season|
|Starting point||Corner of Anembo and Morton Road|
A popular spot for bush walking and mountain biking, the Korung National Park is only a 45-minute drive from Perth. There are many trails winding through the bushland, but Carmel Walk Trail is one of the most popular and gives you the choice of completing one of two loop trails or soldiering on to take both.
The start of the trail is clearly marked with a Shire of Kalamunda sign at the corner of Anembo and Morton Road. Follow the red triangles through the open woodland and soak up the display of wildflowers in the springtime.
You do have the option of only completing the first section, but it’s recommended you venture into the second to see the fruit orchards and scenic farmland of Pickering Brook.
7. Statham’s Quarry Walk, Gooseberry Hill National Park
Gooseberry Hill National Park, 30min from Perth
|Time and distance||2.5hr, 5.9km loop|
|Difficulty||Grade 4 – challenging with some steep tracks in places|
|Best time to do it||August to October for wildflowers|
|Starting point||Lascelle’s Parade car park|
|Facilities||Picnic area and public toilets|
Every Perth local knows about the Zig Zag Scenic Drive, but Gooseberry Hill also boasts a popular walk trail that winds through Helena Valley and some historic local sites.
The trail sets off at Lascelle’s Parade by the car park and takes you to Stratham’s Quarry where there’s also a picnic area. The quarry here was once used to pave the streets of Perth in the early twentieth century. Continuing on from here, the course travels along the old Zig Zag railway, built in 1891 to transport timber to Midland.
8. Yaberoo Budjara Heritage Trail, Yanchep National Park
Start at Neil Hawkins Park, 25min from Perth
|Time and distance||1-2 days, 28km one way|
|Difficulty||Grade 3 – moderate with some steep hills|
|Best time to do it||May to October|
|Starting point||Neil Hawkin’s Park|
|Facilities||Yanchep – barbeques, picnic area, kiosk and public toilets|
This historic trail is not for the faint-hearted, stretching for 28km from Lake Joondalup and ending in Yanchep, winding through Neerabup National Park. The Yaberoo Budjara Heritage Trail is a significant Indigenous site as it was once an Aboriginal migration route and was later used as a stock route by European settlers.
Owing to the length of the trail, it can be separated into five sections. As it’s not a loop trail, you may want to plan for a car shuffle or complete a smaller section and make the return.
Kicking off at Neil Hawkin’s Park on the western side of Lake Joondalup, it winds through bushland of peppermint trees and zamia palms to Burns Beach Road, then veers into Neerabup National Park via the old quarry road. Make sure you go to the top of the ridge which provides excellent views of Waukolup Hill and the Indian Ocean.
Once you head over Quinns Road the trail moves through banksia woodland and past Nowergup Lake in Neerabup National Park. Continuing to Lacey Road and Pipidinny Swamp, the trail enters Yanchep National Park and winds through the dunes past the natural amphitheatre of White’s Grotto to finally end at Loch McNess.
9. Lakeside Loop, Yalgorup National Park
Yalgorup National Park, 1.5hr from Perth
|Time and distance||2hr, 5km|
|Difficulty||Easy trail with gentle gradients, Grade 2|
|Best time to do it||August to October|
|Starting point||Lake Clifton information shelter|
|Facilities||Information shelter and public toilets|
The largest national park on the Swan Coastal Plain, Yalgorup is home to ten sprawling lakes that attract a variety of migratory waterbirds. Renowned for its ancient thrombolites on Lake Clifton, the Lakeside Loop trail runs parallel to the eastern side of the lake.
The trail is an easy walk and passes through paperbark, peppermint and tuart trees until you reach a junction with some old fencing which was once used for farming. The trail circles back along the lake with stunning views over the national park as you head south back to the car park.
Whether at the start or finish, remember to take a stroll down the scenic boardwalk to see the thrombolites up close.
Ready to make your way on these hiking trails?
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