Korung National Park
Directions - Driving up to the hills from Welshpool Rd East, continue to the end and turn right onto Canning Rd. Follow this until you reach the left turn for Glenisla Rd then turn right onto Union Rd and then right onto Morton Rd. The start of the trail is at the top of the hill at the intersection of Morton and Anembo Rd.
The Hike - With a free Sunday morning before meeting up with friends for a games day, I decided to get up before dawn and check out one the many Shire of Kalamunda walks I had not done already. With so many other adventures planned over the past couple of years, rarely have I made time to get out and explore a new trail close to Perth so I'd thought I would rectify that. The Carmel Walk came to mind because I wanted something of a semi-decent length, wasn't dependent on running water being a feature and didn't involve a lot of suburban/road walking. Having previously walked parts of this trail when doing the Kattamordo Heritage Trail, I knew it would be a fairly enjoyable Sunday morning stroll.
Driving out in the dark, I was hopeful of getting out there to find the forest bathed in mist like my recent adventure mapping out the Golden Helena Valley Loop. Finding the start point and parking on the side of the road (there is no gravel car park), I was happy to see the nearby valley filled with a muted mist that I was curious to see if it would stick around for the duration of my walk. Entering the forest the light levels were very low to start with as the sun was still rising over the hills and through the canopy. A feature of the first section of this walk is that it is all through fairly recently burnt Jarrah so it has that dark and moody feel to it in the low light. While I had my Shire of Kalamunda map downloaded onto my phone because sometimes these trails are missing markers at key turns or can be a bit hard to follow. I was delighted to see an array of red trail markers attached to trees at crucial points so it was nice to do one of these walks and not be constantly staring at my phone looking for the next turn. This was particularly handy in this first section as there are many goat trails leading all around the place ranging from 4x4 tracks to single track. While the Shire of Kalamunda walks do not involve creating their own trails, instead utilising existing trails, I feel like they have taken over this area that once used to be mountain bike trails.
Weaving in and around the forest, there are some nice old trees that provide a feature every now and then, along with a grove of grass trees that you have to navigate through. I spotted a familiar car wreck that I first saw on the Kattamordo HT but on reflection it turns out to be a very similar car that is located up and over the hill from the orchard. While I'm a big fan of a forest walk, the constant change of direction here makes it feel like you're going around in circles. It certainly utilises the amusingly tiny Korung National Park to its full potential and eventually you cross a 4x4 track and into some very sparse forest filled with skeletal trees. With the trail now heading east it seemed a lot nicer thanks to the morning sun in my eyes than I imagine it would in the middle of the day. A thicket of new regrowth Jarrah trees further on provided hope that this area might once be a lush forest again. As you make your way down the hill to the intersection of the figure 8 there are two giant trees that have recently fallen over. Their root systems were so intertwined that it looks like one has taken the other with it in a storm. With the first loop over head towards the big shed of Weemala Orchard and walk alongside it to connect up to the second loop. I noticed that the mist was still hanging around the lower valley when I arrived there so was excited to walk further down the hill to see what the valley floor looked like.