Harewood Forest Walk
Start - Off Scotsdale Rd
Length - 1.9km (Return)
Grade - Green
Terrain - Single Track
Vertical Climb - 42m
Time - 1 Hour
Signed - Occasional Wooden Board
Date Hiked - 27th September 2020
Best Time - All Year Round
Traditional Custodians - Minang People
Directions - From the centre of Walpole find Horsley Rd and take this north until the roundabout. Turn right onto Scotsdale Rd and follow this all the way to the start of the walk where you'll find a little car park and noticeable signs for Harewood Forest.
The Hike - I'm no stranger to small walks and really enjoy a good meditative meander through a quality bit of forest or along a body of water. With my south west road trip starting to hit it's stride, this day would be a travel day between Walpole and Albany, taking in a couple of hikes around the Denmark area. Waking up in my tent at Mt Clare, it was a quick pack-up of my wet gear and into the car for the short drive to Walpole for a spot of breakfast. I was quite keen to check out the new café in town and Banksia Café didn't disappoint with a modern feel and plenty of appetising options. I ended up selecting a mushroom dish and washed it down with a flat white, a pretty good way to start the day in my opinion.
The goal for the day was to make it to Albany in time to meet my podcast partner and friend Donovan as he finished the final day of his Munda Biddi end to end. With a couple of hikes that I wanted to do along the way, I began the enjoyable drive out to the Denmark area for the first one, Harewood Forest. Donovan had done this one in 2019 and as I said previously, I am partial to a short walk in the forest so decided to add it to the itinerary plus it was on the way to my second hike. Arriving at the car park, the smells and sounds of the iconic Karri forest were a delight to my senses. I made the mistake of not changing into my trail runners and instead kept my casual shoes on that are a bit long in the tooth (and also white - not a great idea for this trail in spring). Delighting to be tackling a new trail in the dampness of a lovely spring morning, I began snapping away with the camera.
Unfortunately the bright sunshine would be an issue along this trail as the contrast between light and shadow was extreme, something that doesn't make for nice photos. Working with what I had, I crossed the metal bridge over Scotsdale Brook and started my journey into the Karri forest of the Harewood Forest Conservation Area. The chorus of bird song was something I had to stop and appreciate (think I took an annoying "Sound On" Instagram story here) but it was one of those things that is infinitely better in person. Coming across the first of two picnic benches, I declined the option of stopping here and continued along the increasingly muddier path. This was an issue for my casual shoes as they had no grip and where there were puddles, I didn't really feel like getting them a nice muddy brown. The quality of the forest was worth the careful stepping and it wasn't long before I was immersed in a world of moss, wildflowers, bird calls and the sound of rushing water.
Along the trail there are little information boards but the majority of the information is fluff about the logging activities that were carried out in this area during colonisation and I have very little time for celebrating the mass clearing of what would have been a rich and diverse area of beautiful forest. Ignoring these posts, I instead concentrated on enjoying the forest around me and that meant photographing the wildflowers, the moss and the little details that I love about the Karri forest. The dewy petals of some Flame Peas caught my eye (they are everywhere along here during spring) and there were a good number of Tassel Flowers around with the their bamboo-like shapes. Running parallel to Scotsdale Brook, you are never short of an idyllic scene full of flowing water and a background of forest, even if the illusion is occasionally broken by the sound of a passing vehicle. The muddy path continued and I was pleased to see a token effort of some boardwalk over what I guess is a particularly troublesome spot.
After a longer walk that expected (it's advertised as 1.2km return), I reached the turnaround point at the second picnic table. This is a much better option if you are planning on stopping and having a snack or a picnic given the better quality of the surrounding forest (and not being able to see the car park). Just down a slippery little slope is the edge of the brook and it's a nice little area to explore. There are signs near the picnic table telling you that crossing the brook and returning via the road is not allowed but I'm not sure why that would be the preferred option for many people given the return leg is through much nicer terrain. I spent a moment here soaking it all in before deciding to return back the way I came. This was only meant to be the entrée to a much more enjoyable hike at Mount Lindesay but one that was just as I was expecting. On the way back I passed a young family that were clearly having fun exploring the forest and it's always nice to see kids being introduced to nature early on.
Final Thoughts - The forests around Denmark have a lot of potential so it's a shame that there are only a few day hikes in the area to really showcase what a special part of WA this is.
Luckily we do have Harewood Forest, however short the walk is but I'm never one to turn down a wander through damp and green forest.
If you're after a short family friendly walk near town offering some pretty forest, a flowing brook, wildflowers and green moss then look no further than Harewood Forest.
Get out there and experience it!
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