Travel & Touring | WA Things To Do

22 October, 2020   By: Kirsty Petrides

Here in Perth, our favourite way to enjoy the outdoors often involves being near the water – whether it be a coastal walk, a swim in the ocean or stand-up paddle boarding on the river. But what about a hike instead?

We know what you’re thinking though – does Perth even have many decent hiking spots?

Well, we’re here to tell you that yes, it does. While we certainly don't have the mountains of Canada or peaks of New Zealand, Perth is still home to some trails with a reasonable level of difficulty - whether they be climbing up hills, starting way down in valleys or tackling endless switchbacks. Whichever one you choose, you'll be working up a sweat.

1. Sullivan Rock to Mount Cooke, Darling Range

Location

Darling Range, one hour from Perth

Time and distance 8 hours, 18.4km return
Difficulty Grade 4 – hiking experience is recommended
What makes it challenging? The incline, or elevation gain as pros would say – as you climb to the summit (580m above sea level), you gain 290m of elevation in just over 2km
Best time to do it April to November – weather isn’t too hot and you can enjoy the spring wildflowers
Access to trail Road - parking is available at Sullivan Rock
Facilities Campground at Mount Cooke with public toilets, shaded areas and water access

This hike begins at Sullivan Rock, about an hours’ drive from Perth along Albany Highway, and takes you all the way to the highest point in the Darling Range, Mount Cooke. The trail leading towards Mount Cooke is relatively flat, and winds through creeks, sheoaks, banksia and jarrah trees. This is a nice way to warm up before you get to the hardest (but most rewarding) part of the hike – the climb up Mount Cooke. It’s only two kilometres, but is a steep 2km given the 290m elevation gain.

Once you get to the top, continue on past the summit to the southern side of the peak where you’ll be rewarded with the most breathtaking views. There’s a campground at the northern side of Mount Cooke, so if you choose to split this hike over two days, you can dump your gear at your campsite and head up to the summit pack-free.

2. Eagle View Trail, John Forrest National Park

Location

Perth Hills region, approx. 40mins from Perth

Time and distance 5 to 6 hours, 15km loop
Difficulty Grade 3 – suitable for most fitness levels, some hiking experience required
What makes it challenging? The undulating terrain – the trail weaves up and down through valleys with some steep hilly sections
Best time to do it September to December for the wildflowers
Access to trail Road – parking available in the national park
Facilities Picnic areas, public toilets and shaded areas

The trail takes you through John Forrest National Park (the oldest national park in WA) offering some superb scenery and views along the way. Once you get to the start of the trail at the John Forrest NP picnic area, you can tackle the hike clockwise or anti-clockwise – either way, you’ll get to enjoy all the natural beauty the park has to offer.

Parts of the trail follow Jane Brook down the valley, passing creeks, woodlands, forests and waterfalls, including the tranquil Hovea Falls which is a great spot to stop for lunch if you take picnic supplies in your pack. Once you get to the valley wall, you’ll be rewarded with great views across the Swan Coastal Plain to the Perth skyline and ocean in the distance.

RELATED: 9 epic WA day hikes with views that are worth the climb »

3. Bibbulmun Track, Kalamunda to Mundaring Weir

Location

Perth Hills region, approx. 40mins from Perth

Time and distance 8 to 12 hours, 34km return; or 4 to 6 hours, 17km one-way
Difficulty Grade 4 – Hiking experience required
What makes it challenging? Some steep climbs and loose gravel descents
Best time to do it April to November when the weather is mild, and especially in spring for the wildflowers
Access to trail Road
Facilities Picnic areas, public toilets and water access points

Hiking the whole Bibbulmun Track is something that’s on many West Aussie’s bucket lists, but given it can take anywhere between six to eight weeks to complete the whole thing (from Kalamunda to Albany) it’s quite an undertaking. If you don’t have that kind of time up your sleeve but still want to experience the Bib, tackle a manageable section of it instead, starting at the track’s northern terminus in Kalamunda, and finishing at Mundaring Weir.

If you’re tackling the whole 34km return, you’ll need to start early in the morning; but if you have hiking buddies, do a car shuffle and leave cars at either end so you can finish with lunch at the Mundaring Weir Hotel without having to make the return journey.

4. Kitty's Gorge, Jarrahdale

Location

Jarrahdale, approx. one hour from Perth

Time and distance 4 to 6 hours, 16.5km return
Difficulty Grade 3 – suitable for most fitness levels, some hiking experience required
What makes it challenging? Steep sections with elevation gain of 220m, and loose gravel surfaces in parts
Best time to do it April – October for flowing waterfalls
Access to trail Road – parking available at the Falls carpark in Serpentine National Park 
Facilities Serpentine National Park has picnic areas and public toilets

The roughly 16km return journey along Kitty’s Gorge Trail follows the Serpentine River and Gooralong Brook, so expect to see beautiful streams, rocky rapids and cascading waters. The granite outcrops are also pretty impressive, as is the forest flora and fauna. It’s relatively challenging with a vertical gain of about 220m, loose pea-gravel terrain and sometimes slippery surfaces due to the water’s proximity.

At certain points along the trail you can find great vantage points on the edge of the track to get glimpses of Serpentine Falls, and Baldwin’s Bluff in the distance – the peak of another trail within the park. If you are heading out to do this hike, make sure you’re back at your car before 5pm when the park gates close.

5. Baldwin's Bluff Trail, Serpentine National Park

Location

Serpentine, approx. one hour from Perth

Time and distance Approx. 2 hours, 6km loop
Difficulty Grade 4 –hiking experience required
What makes it challenging? Steep incline up to summit, gaining almost 200m in elevation in about 5km; and loose rocky surfaces in parts
Best time to do it April – October for flowing waterfalls
Access to trail Road – parking available at Serpentine National Park carpark
Facilities Serpentine National Park has picnic areas and public toilets

While Kitty’s Gorge is the more well-known hike in Serpentine National Park, a lesser-known but equally as impressive one is Baldwin’s Bluff. The trail takes you along gravel tracks, climbing up to the summit of the hill, where you’re treated to sprawling views of Serpentine Falls and the valley beyond. Along the way you pass through jarrah and marri woodlands, granite outcrops and – if hiking in spring – an array of blooming wildflowers.

The summit isn’t that clearly marked, but you’ll know once you’ve reached the top by the giant granite protrusions in the grounds, and of course the sweeping views over the Perth Coastal Plans and back down the Serpentine River Valley. Keep in mind that the Serpentine Falls area often gets quite busy and is closed to new visitors once it reaches capacity, so plan to arrive for your hike prior to 10am.

RELATED: 10 of WA's best waterfalls »

6. Palm Terrace Walk, Forrestfield

Location

Forrestfield, approx. 30mins from Perth

Time and distance 1 to 3 hours, 5.5km loop
Difficulty Grade 3 – suitable for most fitness levels, some hiking experience required
What makes it challenging? Some steep climbs in sections
Best time to do it August to November for flowing waterfalls and wildflowers
Access to trail Road – parking available at the Lower Lesmurdie Falls carpark
Facilities The Lesmurdie Falls carpark has picnic areas, public toilets and water access points

Don’t let the very relaxing-sounding name of ‘palm terrace walk’ fool you – this is a fairly strenuous hike. But if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded. The trail, which has been dubbed one of the most underrated in Perth, starts at the Lower Lesmurdie Falls Car Park, and takes you through parts of the Lesmurdie Falls National Park and Mundy Regional Park.

Expect to see plenty of panoramic views over Perth city and – if you choose to take a very short detour off the path – the stunning Lesmurdie Falls. Plus, if you go in springtime, you’ll be able to enjoy the colour and vibrancy of wildflower season in the Perth Hills. Just make sure you have a map or directions handy before leaving, as the trail is not consistently signposted.

7. Numbat Trail, Pauna Wildlife Sanctuary

Location

Avon Valley, approx. one hour from Perth

Time and distance 3 to 5 hours, 12km loop
Difficulty Grade 3 – some hiking experience required
What makes it challenging? Steep switchbacks through the Paruna Gorge and valley ridge
Best time to do it May to November for flowing creeks, lush green views and spring wildflowers
Access to trail Gravel tracks – parking is available
Facilities Picnic areas and public toilets 

The Numbat Trail is the longest of three trails in the Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary, and as soon as you start you’ll know why it’s got such a great reputation. Once you pass the lake you start to incline through the White Gum Forest to a lookout offering sprawling views over the sanctuary. From there you continue on trekking through the woodlands until you get to the valley ridge, where you’re rewarded with views of the Avon River and landscape beyond.

There are a number of switchbacks and steep steps that can pose a challenge, but the scenery makes it all worthwhile – rocky pools, waterfalls, granite cliffs and – if hiking in spring – an abundance of wildflowers.

8. Sixty Foot Falls, Ellis Brook Valley Reserve, Banyowla Regional Park

Location

Gosnells approx. one hour from Perth

Time and distance Approx. an hour, 2km loop
Difficulty Grade 4 –hiking experience required
What makes it challenging? The steep climb from the bottom of the valley to the top of the waterfall – 100m elevation gain in just under 2km
Best time to do it June to November for flowing waterfalls
Access to trail Road – carpark at the end of Rushton Road
Facilities Picnic areas and public toilets 

If you’re keen for a short but challenging hike, Sixty Foot Falls has got you covered. Being a walk that starts out in the bottom of a valley and takes you to the top of a waterfall, this trail has some serious incline. The walk starts in the Ellis Brook Valley, and as you climb you’ll pass various lookouts overlooking the valley, Swan Coastal Plain and Old Barrington Quarry. There’s an abundance of greenery along the way, and if you’re going in spring, you’ll get to see countless wildflower species popping up all over the place.

Once you get to the top of the falls you’ll have an even better view of the valley and landscape – but your best bet is to actually take the trail down a rocky descent to another lookout which offers arguably the best views of Sixty Foot Falls. Enjoy the view, and take care when it’s time to descend – the incline means it can be very steep and slippery in wet conditions.

Ready to tackle some of these climbs?

Many of them are in national parks, so don’t forget RAC members save 50% on national park passes.

Find out more