When the weather heats up it becomes a bit more difficult to hike around Perth but the South West offers a great place to escape and enjoy some of the amazing landscapes Western Australia is famous for. So what makes a great summer hike? A place to swim and cool off is a great feature to have or if that isn’t an option then being under the thick canopy of a forest is a good alternative.
Let’s dive into some of the best places to still enjoy your hiking when things warm up.
Big Brook Dam – Pemberton (http://www.thelifeofpy.com/big-brook-dam)
A short drive out of the centre of Pemberton and located on the Karri Explorer is Big Brook Dam, a 4km loop around the man made dam and recreation area created in the 1980s. With a fully paved trail hugging the shores of the lake, there is plenty to see and do here with numerous bird hides and cabins full of interesting information on the area. Towering above the surface of the water is a lining of giant Karri trees that also provide some much needed shade during the summer months. When you have worked up a sweat on the trail there is no better way to cool off than a dip in the lake, accessible at the white sandy beach where you can also enjoy a picnic.
Cape Naturaliste Track – Dunsborough (http://www.thelifeofpy.com/cape-naturaliste-track)
Located right at the northern tip of the Leewuin-Naturaliste Ridge and the start/end point for the famous 135km Cape to Cape Track, the Cape Naturaliste Track offers a slice of what makes this wild region so popular. At 3.7km long, this loop trail takes you out and around the cape from the famous lighthouse and although not protected with any large trees, it is short enough that it can be enjoyed at early morning or sunset. Along the way you can take the side trail down to the beach for a swim or poke around the rock pools and the finish to the trail takes you high above the cliffs where you can stare at the ocean and ponder the vastness of eternity.
Mount Frankland – Walpole (http://www.thelifeofpy.com/mt-frankland)
Another short hike on the list, Mount Frankland is fantastic to visit any time of year but holds special significance in summer. Mount Frankland was previously used as a fire lookout with a person stationed there every summer in the Towerman’s Hut, making several trips per day to the summit so they could see far into the distance and report on the bushfires in the area. You too can make the same trip and experience what it would have been like for the lonely person that had that very important job of guiding planes and reporting on bushfires. The hike to the summit is on paved paths with a few sets of steep stairs thrown in there but if you want to explore some more, then the Caldyanup Trail is a fantastic way to see the granite dome from a different angle as it loops around the base and through the Karri forest.
Point Possession Heritage Trail – Albany (http://www.thelifeofpy.com/point-possession-heritage-trail)
A remnant leftover from the 1988 Bicentennial Heritage Trails project, the Point Possession Heritage Trail has remained intact and we are lucky it has. Starting at Whaler’s Cove, you are immediately under the cover of some dense coastal forest before walking along the coast to the exciting bits on Vancouver Peninsula. Looping around the peninsula where Captain Vancouver landed and claimed the South West for the British in the late 1700s, you explore two beaches and the granite dome. The western beach that faces the port and the Albany city centre contains a lot of seaweed that you will have to negotiate but the real treat is the eastern beach where all you will find is pristine white sands and wonderful swimming conditions so bring a towel and enjoy a dip in King George Sound. Pick the right day and you might have the whole trail to yourself.
Valley of the Giants – Walpole (http://www.thelifeofpy.com/valley-of-the-giants)
While the Karri forest usually provides ample shade for a hike with an expansive canopy of greenery, the point of this hike is to get high above into the tree line and experience life from a different perspective. The impressive Tree Top Walk in the Valley of the Giants offers up a unique vantage point that you only get in the South West if you are brave enough to climb one of the lookout trees like the Gloucester Tree or Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree. You won’t be up in the canopy for too long as the trail isn’t very long but it is certainly worth the price of admission. Make sure you also take in the Ancient Empire Walk to fully appreciate the size of the Karri and Tingle trees located in the Walpole area.
Warren River Loop Trail – Pemberton (http://www.thelifeofpy.com/warren-river-loop-trail)
One of the most underrated places in the South West, the Warren River Loop Trail is a long hike compared to the others on this list but it has one big advantage that the others don’t, several campsites to stay at. At 12km long, it can easily be done as a day hike but why not take advantage of the wonderful location of the two campsites (Drafty’s and Warren) along the banks of the Warren River and stay for an extended swim or paddle. Where the hike follows the river there are lots of cool little bridges, boardwalks, rapids and fallen trees to explore so it makes sense to take your time and really enjoy this amazing place for as long as you can. Add in a great lookout with views high above the dark brown hues of the Warren River and this one is a winner. Did I also mention that the Pemberton Wine Centre is located a very short drive away on the edge of the national park?
Do you have a favourite summer hiking destination in the South West? Let us know in the comments where you go to escape the summer heat.