Mount Cooke Circuit
Monadnocks Conservation Area
Directions - Take Albany Highway east from Armadale, driving for 36km until you reach Sullivan Rock. Continue along Albany Highway for another 9km until you see a small rest stop on the left hand side of the road with an unsealed road leading into the pines. Follow this to the end and turn left onto Cooke Rd, continuing on until you see a small car park on your right. It's not the easiest to find first time so the exact location is here. The trail is found by heading north, ignoring all tracks heading in any other direction.
The Hike - Mount Cooke was one of the first hikes I did up for the website way back in 2014 and is a place I try and visit every year because it is a fantastic place to explore. There are two ways to access Mount Cooke, the first being a long walk from Sullivan Rock and the second being the little car park at the base of the southern slopes that has an unofficial trail leading up to the summit. This second option is one I've not parked at before but have done the unofficial trail many times as a way to add on kilometres to a training hike or just explore the area for fun.
With 2021 being full of mostly mountain biking adventures leading up to my Munda Biddi E2E, I didn't have much time to get out and hike some old favourites. This one I had been meaning to add to the website for quite some time as it allows for better access to the wonderful summit ridge of Mount Cooke without having to hike 9km or so along the Bibbulmun Track from Sullivan Rock (and then back again). With my Munda Biddi adventure over and a craving to get out on some hikes to enjoy the bumper wildflower season we were having in Western Australia, I scheduled in a visit here on a foggy morning in late September. With the sun rising earlier now it getting further into spring, I couldn't drag myself out of bed early enough to watch the sunrise from the summit given it was already an hours drive away. With the predicted fog hanging around for most of the morning it would have been all for nothing so I aimed for a still early 7am arrival time at the car park. Not having driven out here before, I knew roughly where the car park was but there are so many entrance points to the plantation that it can be confusing about which one to take.
If you pass under the powerlines then you've gone too far and most of the tracks leading into the pines end up coming to a finish at Cooke Rd, which is the road the car park is located on. I found it with relative ease and a baby blue Land Rover made life a bit easier. Having hiked here before, I knew the path from here but again, it can be confusing on your first visit. From the car park head north towards Mount Cooke and ignore all the side tracks leading off, you'll eventually reach a spot where it turns into a well formed single track as it runs along the seasonal creek. I really love hiking in foggy conditions as there is a shroud of the unknown all around you thanks to the limited visibility. It feels like you have escaped regular life and are just hiking in your immediate surrounds. From the car park I was impressed with the variety and volume of wildflowers all around, something that would cause me to take over 750 photos for the day. There were so many different types that I am trialling a new format for this post where one photo cell is split into three panels.