Helena Pipehead Walk
Kalamunda National Park
Directions - Located at the end of Helena Valley Rd, navigate your way to Helena Primary School and then continue along the narrow winding Helena Valley Rd until you reach the end where you will find a small gravel car park in front of the white gates.
Parking - Helena Valley Road is very narrow and the car park is only suitable for a handful of cars. Please be mindful of local residents and don't block the road by parking on the side of it or block access points to property. If possible car pool with friends or meet up at Helena Primary School and all travel down in one car.
The Hike - With a subdued Easter on the cards in 2020 thanks to the regional travel bans, my goal was to try and get in a few more of the Shire of Kalamunda walks that I had yet to experience. A cloudy adventure on the Channel 10 Tower Walk before this was a good warm-up but the Helena Pipehead Walk was what I was really looking forward to given the positive reviews I'd heard about it. Saving this for the second walk of the day, I wanted to experience it in the afternoon light although this wasn't looking too promising given the cloud cover still lingering around when I arrived at the small car park at the end of Helena Valley Road.
I managed to get the last parking spot in this car park (there are a couple more spots further back along the road) and decided to wait as two cars had just arrived. Knowing I would be walking slower due to taking many photos, I checked the socials while the other hikers headed off down the path. Although this area would be much better in spring, the lack of hiking options in the Perth/Peel region that wouldn't have been super crowded on an Easter Sunday meant I was happy to switch this hike to earlier in the year. The Helena River Valley is a really cool place that I think is underdeveloped but thanks to the archaic rules around trails in water catchment areas, it most likely won't ever be developed apart from the access tracks that litter the area. I had great fun on the Golden Helena Valley Loop last year and so was looking forward to seeing what this section a bit further downstream looked like.
Initially the track isn't very thrilling as you walk past the white gates and onto the open 4x4 track that will be the basis for your path for the entire loop. Off to the right of the vehicle track I noticed that there was a point leading down to the Helena River or what is left of it after Mundaring Weir and the Lower Helena Dam have done their bit to stem the flow. While still early in the autumn and a dry summer, I wasn't expecting to see any water so was surprised to find some near what was an old gauging station, similar to the one I'd seen at Wungong Gorge. Down here there were some Paperbarks that provided a different texture to photograph and looking upstream it was a bit moody, something I really enjoy. Heading back to re-join the official trail, you cross over a bridge and start rising above the river. This is where the hike starts to get interesting as the views into the valley start to get better and you are looking down at the thick vegetation lining the valley floor.