Kitty's Gorge Walk Trail
Serpentine National Park
Directions - Located just outside of Jarrahdale, take Jarrahdale Rd until you reach a right turn at Oak Way. Take Oak Way and then turn right onto Atkins Rd. Parking is opposite the cemetery and the trail head has a large information shelter.
The Hike - Kitty's Gorge is a mainstay of the Perth hiking community and often gets placed in lists of the best walks in Perth with good reason. I too have included it in my Five Best Hikes in Perth I did a while back now as it's a long and enjoyable trail that takes you through some varied landscapes with plenty of great photo opportunities. This was the fourth ever trail I posted on the website way back in 2014 and over the years I've returned to hike what is a favourite trail of mine a few times in different conditions. Unfortunately due to the desire to hike new trails and placing those experiences over a hike for fun, the last time I was here was in 2016 for a group hike I organised.
With no more Bibbulmun Track sections to complete and a few more weekends now free to explore old favourites, I found I had a blank Saturday to head out to Jarrahdale to see if Kitty's Gorge was as good as I remember, plus re-shoot it with my new camera (if you want to see the old post then it still exists here). This was on my 2020 plan with the goal to spend an entire day in spring exploring both Kitty's Gorge, Baldwin's Bluff and off-track areas around different parts of Serpentine National Park. With a month long road trip planned for September/October, that idea was shelved and instead I took the opportunity to spend the morning orchid hunting and hoping for an echidna sighting. Arriving at the start point just after sunrise, I was happy to see a few cars there, evidence that hiking in WA has really taken off as a leisure activity and from what I saw over the day, people were loving being in the outdoors. While this can be done as a one-way trail with a car at either end, I like the return journey for the fitness aspect and you also get different lighting throughout the day. Doing it as a return hike means the first half is all downhill so you can just enjoy the walk without breaking a sweat. The first section is through some lovely Jarrah forest with plenty of late winter wildflowers already on display.
Passing the large fallen tree sparked some memories (this happened a lot over the hike) and it was nice to take some photos of it in the muted light of a cloudy morning. Descending down the hill, I was stopping a lot to take photos of wildflowers, fungi and the forest scenes. Arriving at the spot where Stacey's Track departs down into the valley, I was checking out what looked like a non-native wattle when I stumbled across a Spider Orchid camouflaged on the forest floor. I'm terrible with names of wildflowers and orchids and to be honest it can be very difficult in WA with a vast number of species and varieties. There is an excellent guide to Spider Orchids that can be found here if you're interested. Pleased to have spotted one very early, I descended down towards Gooralong Campground, an old camping area that has since been abandoned. With two of the camp buildings still up, it's a little bit of an eerie place to be but at least all the piles of rubbish have been cleared. Now it's just a wide open area surrounded by pines and odd trees that needs some serious rehabilitation (a theme for this section). Continuing the unnatural theme, you arrive at the pine plantation near Gooralong Brook that people seem to be really drawn to. I agree it looks quite spooky in the right lighting but I have no idea why it hasn't been harvested yet and replaced with native vegetation.
As you walk along the 4x4 track towards the Kitty's Gorge Walk Trail sign, you have the pines on one side and Gooralong Brook on the other. Gooralong Brook will be a mainstay for a while but looks completely different as you walk along. At this point it has a very Tasmania flavour with lots of non-native Tree Ferns providing a temperate feel, although somewhat disjointed with all the other weeds in the area. Once you pass the walk trail sign it becomes more natural as you continue to descend over the first of a few wooden bridges. It feels much more pleasant here as the vegetation appears to be what you'd expect from the Perth Hills and I was having good fun scanning the thick undergrowth for wildflowers and sundews. Passing under a very large Balga that I remember being in awe of when I first visited, you soon reach a series of wooden bridges that make for a good rest spot. The view looking back down the brook is quite stunning in the morning light, more so if the sun is streaming through the canopy.
Climbing up the wooden steps you continue along with this section featuring a bevy of wildflowers hiding just off the path. Among others I spotted some Hovea, Myrtle, a Grevillea, a Couch Honeypot and some flowering Parrot Bush. Over the years I've gotten better at spotting changes of colour or identifying familiar shapes in the undergrowth as I go along so it was nice to see quite a collection along here. While the smaller details are nice, I was also appreciating the sweeping views down the valley and towards where the course of the brook runs. The trees lining the valley make for some lovely scenes and it was a case of splitting my focus between the two viewpoints. Approaching the gauging station along Gooralong Brook, you are treated to some lovely moss covered granite as it extends up the slopes of the hill. This whole section along the brook unsurprisingly has a moist feel to it, both being in a valley and somewhat sheltered from the sun in places.