Deep River Walk Trail
Start - Nuyts Car Park, Tinglewood Rd
Length - 5.4km (Loop)
Grade - Orange
Terrain - Single Track, 4x4 Track
Vertical Climb - 230m
Time - 2-3 hours
Signed - Yes
Date Hiked - 29th December 2016
Best Time - All Year Round
The Hike - Whilst taking in a section of the Bibbulmun from Walpole to Mt Clare, we stumbled across the trail head for the Nuyts Wilderness Area and this peaked my interest as I wasn't previously aware of any shorter hikes in this area.
Containing a wealth of information regarding trails in the area, I vowed to return to at least do the shorter Deep River Walk Trail while I had time left in Walpole. The other trails would have to wait until a future visit in winter but I had one more day to schedule in a hike. Rising at 5:30am, it was a short drive to the Tinglewood Rd turn-off from South Western Hwy and I was soon in the empty Nuyts car park under more gloomy skies (my favourite). Having hiked the first section from the car park to the Mt Clare campsite the previous day, I knew what to expect but strong winds overnight had left its mark on the trail. A few large branches had been blown onto the trail so I cleared them off and headed into the deep green of the Tingle forest and onto the wide 4x4 track leading up to the Mt Clare side trail.
With no time restrictions and an empty forest to myself I slowed the pace down and admired this stretch of forest. Spotting a few more wildflowers than the previous day and spending more time photographing the bell bottoms of the Tingles in a different light made for a very slow ascent to Mt Clare. The information board has the hike to the Mt Clare summit as a separate trail but it's a small diversion from the Deep River Walk Trail so decided once again to make the detour. Battling through the semi overgrown path, the views from the first granite dome weren't any better than the previous day thanks to the same grey skies. I moved on to the second granite dome and the skies were a little lighter and the views to the oceans were a little clearer. I took a few photos and headed back to the Bibbulmun, hoping the Mt Clare campsite would be empty so I could explore things without the presence of others.
I rounded the corner and caught sight of the Tingle trees that mark the middle of the campsite. Being very quiet as it was still before 7am, I found a tent erected inside the hut and decided it was best to move on as I couldn't see evidence that the occupants were up and about. From here on out this was going to be new territory so I was looking forward to more spectacular Tingle forest and the run down to Deep River. It didn't take long for the magic and wonder to take over as the descent down to the river is perfection (in my eyes anyway). Even though it was summer the forest was bright green thanks to a sprinkling of morning light on the canopy and had that closed in feeling thanks to some very thick undergrowth.
Not that I have visited in person but it felt like a Japanese forest with so much green moss about and thickets of skinny trees lining the trail. Being a descent too, you aren't distracted with heavy breathing or sore legs so are free to enjoy this magical section of the Bibbulmun. About a third of the way down there is a massive upended Tingle tree that the trail ducks under and I must have spent a good twenty minutes just sitting and admiring the surrounding landscape (along with taking a lot of photos). It's easy to see why the Tingle forests get mentioned to anyone doing an end to end as one of the best sections. To think, the whole southern coast must have been covered in this type of forest before European settlers arrived and this is just one comparatively small slice that remains.
While most of the forest is closed in trail, there are a couple of scenes that will make you stop and smile. One spot is where a gully intersects the trail from the east and you descend down into a minor valley. Here you will find moss covered rocks, fallen trees and a true sense of scale as the forest opens up just a little. Again, I stayed here a while soaking it all in before moving down to where the trail crosses Tinglewood Rd (the road loops back on itself). Reaching the road, I found a car in the gravel car park perhaps belonging to the people back at the Mt Clare hut. From here you are not far from the trail that leads down to the suspension bridge that crosses Deep River and another highlight of this walk.
One of the many impressive bridges that dot the Bibbulmun Track, this one fits perfectly into the environment and allows you to view the river without being blocked by a heavy steel or wooden structure. Plus the natural swing and sway of the bridge is a lot of fun as you walk over the narrow boards. While this section of the river is a lot calmer than when it passes by the campsite at Fernhook Falls, it is none the less an enjoyable stretch of river. Like the wider Warren River, the dark tannins provided by the surrounding forest give the water a very deep look (this is not how the river was named), providing some excellent photo opportunities. Given everyone back at the holiday home would only just be rising, I took my time here before moving on to hike back to the starting point.
The remainder of the hike leaves the Bibbulmun Track after you backtrack to Tinglewood Rd and follows this wide 4x4 track. The forest is a lot more open here as the clearing for the road gives a break in the canopy. It does allow you to view the Karri trees from a distance going all the way from the ground up to the canopy some 70-80m in the air. Being right in the middle of pristine Karri forest, the trail is not boring but cannot compare to the run down from the Mt Clare hut. Nonetheless, I still find pleasure in hiking in a Karri forest, no matter what the trail type so was having a lot of fun. Be mindful of cars along this section even though it is a rarely used road.
The last turn off occurs when Tinglewood Rd heads back up the hill and this is well marked so you can't miss it. Before beginning the climb back to the car I noticed that the Deep River was right next to the road so clambered down the small bank to get a better view. With one last look at the river I departed up the hill to the starting point. Along the way I admired the forest, removed some giant weeds that lined the 4x4 track and took a few more photos. Not surprisingly, there was no one else in the car park when I returned.
Final Thoughts - You can never go wrong with a hike that involves a section of the Bibbulmun, especially when it includes pristine Tingle forest. At 5.4km long, the Deep River Walk Trail is perfect for those wishing to experience this fantastic area without doing a long hike on the Bibbulmun.
The pictures really don't convey how nice it is being surrounded by the forest and out of the 400 odd photos that I took, I could have easily edited every single one of them. If you're in the Walpole area then this is a must visit made all the better by the fact that you will most likely have the trail to yourself.
Having discovered the Nuyts trail head I cannot wait to return so I can explore the remaining walks. This will have to do as a teaser until that time arrives.
Get out there and experience it!
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