Karri Lake Trail
Start - Wheatley Coast Rd, Quinninup
Length - 3.3km (Loop)
Grade - Green
Terrain - Single Track
Vertical Climb - 63m
Time - 1 hour
Signed - Yes, Occasional Markers
Date Hiked - 2nd June 2015
Best Time - All Year Round
Directions - From the centre of Quinninup, head north along Wheatley Coast Rd until you see a small car park on the right hand side just after the turn for Karri Lane.
The Hike - After tackling the 16km Greenbushes hike the next destination was the small hamlet of Quinninup, a quiet country town south of Manjimup and just off the South West Highway. The 16km Greenbushes Loop took it's toll on my girlfriend and we spent the next day lounging around the old timber cottage we were staying in watching old movies on VHS and took an exploratory trip to Pemberton. The following day we were back in action and went exploring the Quinninup area. Quinninup is a former timber town that is now a quiet holiday town with a tavern and nothing else. The town will be known to mountain bikers as the Munda Biddi Trail runs right through the centre but hikers might not be familiar with the area.
The majority of the inhabitants live around Karri Lake, which along with being a postcard perfect location also doubles as the town's water supply. There are four small hikes around Quinninup (I only found out about the fourth on the day I left) and we started with the Karri Lake Trail, a fantastic little hike around the edge of the lake and through some older forest. The start point for the trail is a small gravel car-park just north of the volunteer fire station on Wheatley Coast Rd. Being a loop you can go either way around the lake but we chose the head north into the undergrowth and were instantly greeted with some moist, mossy forest that I love to hike through. The trail is well marked, clean and very flat so can be tackled by everyone from the kids to the grandparents. The first look of the lake you will get is looking back at the dam wall (above) and you will get to see it a lot as you dip and dive through the greenery of the forest floor. The northern side of the lake is untouched forest and provides some of the best sections of the trail with multiple opportunities to get panoramic shots of the open lake. As you reach the 1km mark the trail makes a turn south and you get to see some of the holiday homes/local homes that surround the lake. Most are on stilts due to the changing size of the lake and have that American Holiday Camp style to them that makes me think they would be a lot of fun in the summer. Unfortunately the lake is off limits to humans as it doubles as the town's water supply but you could still enjoy the views.
If you are interested it looked like about half of them were up for sale and my girlfriend and I had a lengthy what-if scenario about one place for sale where we both worked from home and lived peacefully by the lake. For now though it was just about enjoying the hike and marvelling at what a great location it is, especially as it is so hidden away from the usual tourist spots and not many people have heard of Quinninup. Unlike some trails in Perth that are close to private property, the area around the trail is perfect and free from rubbish. The only debris is created naturally when a forest giant has fallen and usually makes for a better trail if the mosses and fungi have taken up residence. There is no shortage of logs teeming with life and they provide a great number of photographic opportunities. Given the trail is only a generous 3.5km there is no reason to rush so take your time exploring different angles or composition. I would love to return during spring time to see the vast array of wildflowers that this part of the world is famous for. Being the start of winter and with a pretty dry start to the year, the lake wasn't as full as it normally would be. With some more rainfall the streams would be at full flow, creating some long exposure opportunities against the moss covered rocks/trees.
I'm not exaggerating when I say this area resembles the postcard shots you see of the Tasmanian temperate forests. Old growth Karri trees towering over thick, lush undergrowth is something we rarely get in Perth for the majority of the year due to the dryness but down here the weather is a little cooler, providing ideal conditions for these forests. As you continue along the south side of the lake the path widens in places as it gets closer to the nearby homes. At one home we ran into some local fauna of the Kangaroo variety that were having a feed but they didn't seem too keen to have us interrupt their breakfast. They bounded away after I snapped a few pictures of them and we went on our merry way (girlfriend was still going strong out front). The last little surprise on the trail was a couple of fairy homes in front of one of the local residences. They were brightly decorated and clearly lived in but unfortunately the fairies were out when we passed by. Perhaps your kids might have more luck as I hear they can be tricky to see in the daylight. The end of the trail is right past the Water Corp building and back at the starting point where in a blink of an eye you have hiked the 3.5km Karri Lake Trail.
Final Thoughts – When I booked my accommodation in Quinninup I didn't research the town at all and had no idea that there were hiking trails so close. I was planning on using the town as a base for other hikes in the region but I am glad we investigated the information board in town and found the leaflet containing the info for the three hikes we did.
The Karri Lake Trail may not be a long hike but what it lacks in quantity it certainly makes up for with quality. Whether you are looking at the views of the lake or the magnificence of the trail itself, there is plenty to like about this hike. Suitable for everyone, I defy anyone to say they didn't enjoy this trail, even if the rain is falling and the winds howling.
Given Quinninup is only a couple of kilometres from the South West Highway, I highly recommend stopping in for a visit if you are planning a trip past. If you are staying in town then there is no excuse, you have to do this hike.
Get out there and experience it!
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