King Karri Trail
Wheatley Coast Rd
Directions - From the centre of Quinninup, head south along Wheatley Coast Rd until you see the sign for the King Karri Trail on the left hand side of the road. There is a small parking area opposite the trail start.
The Hike - With the discovery of the Quinninup trails and the Karri Lake Trail already under my belt I was determined to get all three done in one day. The girlfriend was not as keen so I dropped her back at the cottage, grabbed a drink and then walked the 1km down to the start of the next trail, the King Karri Trail. The start point of the trail is passed on your way into Quinninup on Wheatley Coast Rd with a sign post marked “Walk Track”, which perked my interest driving into town on Day One. There isn't any parking on the roadside so your best option is to walk down the hill from town (this will add 2km to the overall length of the hike).
Utilising a part of the famous Munda Biddi Trail, this 3.5km loop takes you through ancient Karri forest where the giants grow tall. The sunshine quickly disappears as you follow the trail markers uphill and are immediately transported into the sights, sounds and smells of an old growth forest. The best way to describe this trail is an “up or down” trail as you are either looking directly up at all the towering giants or on the floor for the 18 families of macro-fungi that call this forest home. The trail is well signposted if you travel in an anti-clockwise direction (turning right at the top of the first hill) soon you will spot the Munda Biddi sign. Being quite a wide trail you won’t be short of space if a group of riders passes by but be sure to keep to one side just in case. I only saw a few mountain bikers during my stay in Quinninup but during peak tourist periods I can imagine that this section will be visited frequently. On my walk to the trail start I did manage to find a discarded iPod mini that had clearly not survived a fall. If it was an end to ender then I feel for them not having music to listen to as they struggle through some tough terrain. After 1km you say farewell to the Munda Biddi Trail and head off in a north-east direction for what will be the last climb of the trail up to the 197m peak. While it was only early winter and as previously mentioned, a dry start to the year, there were still signs of the fungi that are described on the trail brochure.
Orange coloured mushrooms, green lichen/moss covered trees and some fungi that looked like it belonged on the face of a middle earth orc (see gallery at the bottom of the page) were all visible by constantly scanning the forest floor. Pretty soon you will reach the peak (no views unfortunately) and waiting there for you will be the first of two named trees. “The Shaggy Karri” is a 73m, 400 year old giant that has been here 200 years longer than European settlement in Western Australia. At 73m it is 1m taller that it’s more famous Pemberton neighbour, The Gloucester Tree, but it doesn’t have any foliage so you can appreciate its true height. From the Shaggy Karri you continue to descend into the forest and the undergrowth becomes even thicker than before. The damp, leaf covered ground snaking through rich, green forest is straight out of Lord of the Rings where the four hobbits first encounter each other and escape the first black wraith. If you do come across any hobbits then make sure you take a photo or two but if not the trail winds its way down to the second named tree, “Hollow Butt”. Hollow Butt is named that way because like so many forest giants you will see in this part of the world; it has a big chunk missing from its base that gives it a hollowed out look.
At 63m it is shorter than Shaggy Karri but it still has relatively thick foliage for its age (300-350 years old) and might not be done growing just yet. Below is a video I took of the Shaggy Karri to show how big they actually are because fitting 73m of Karri tree in one shot is impossible standing near the base. Hollow Butt is situated in a bit of forest with more giants for company so is harder to shoot looking up. Leaving the two giants behind, the rest of the trail meanders its way through the forest and down back towards the start point. Keep an ear out for the native birds chirping away and an eye on the undergrowth for more fungi as there are a lot of fallen trees in this section that provide suitable growing conditions. Eventually you spot the enormous tree that marks that first turn off point and the path back down to Wheatley Coast Rd. If you are lucky enough to get sunny blue skies then the scene greeting you at the roadside is a very pleasant contrast between the rolling green pastoral lands and a deep blue sky. The only thing left to do was walk uphill and into town where a good rest was awaiting me.
Final Thoughts – You just don’t get trees this big in Perth so to have a hike that is easily accessible, suitable for everyone and interesting so close to a town is a treat. My neck was sore about half way through just marvelling at the sheer size and quantity of the Karri trees around me.
Like the Karri Lake Trail, this is well worth a look if you are passing by on the South West Highway and I would be curious to see the difference in the landscape when it is late winter/early spring. Make sure you include these trails on your Western Australia hiking bucket list for the next time you visit the South West.
Get out there and experience it!
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