Mount Dale Circuit
Helena National Park
Directions - Take Brookton Highway east from Armadale until you reach the turnoff for Ashendon Road. Follow this for 3-4km before making a right turn onto Dale Road. This takes you all the way to the summit where there is a car park. Head along the path south of the summit lookout where you will find a path leading to where the loop begins.
The Hike - Mount Dale is a place that I adore and have enjoyed every visit I've been fortunate enough to take. I first visited back in 2015 and it was one of the very early posts for the website and as such, was long overdue for a refresh of photos. Nostalgia is a big thing for me so if I was going to return then I was going to try and recreate the experience so this meant an early start in winter to get there for a misty sunrise. While I was on my own in 2015, I had extended an invitation to friends as part of a series of hiking/movie weekends we would be holding over the hiking season. Unfortunately one couple came down with illness and Aron's partner bailed on the very early start so it was just myself and Aron left to enjoy the experience.
With Mount Dale being over an hour from home, it was an early start to ensure I was there for first light and it was good timing that I caught up to Aron just as we both approached the summit car park. I have mixed feelings about the summit car park as it allows people to get some great views that may not be able to but at the same time, it's an area that is abused and disrespected by idiot bogans who go up there to drink and graffiti the place. Full disclosure here, I did not check the DBCA or TrailsWA website before visiting and didn't know the trail had been closed for however long it had been (thanks to the Bibb Track Volunteers it is now open again) due to the track being horribly overgrown (more on that later). First on the agenda was watching the sunrise as this is a fantastic spot to do it thanks to the uninterrupted views looking over the vast forests to the east. Making our way up to the communications tower, we found a path and looped back around to find a good spot to watch the sunrise. Fighting through the thick undergrowth, we found an open area of granite and climbed back up the hill to where a few boulders provided a clear view. The pretty pink and blue hues of pre-dawn that reminded me of my morning on Mount Chance in 2019 were starting to change and soon we could see the sun starting to peak above the horizon.
On my first visit here the fog and mist was a lot thicker and produced an otherworldly scene but we were still fortunate enough to get a thin blanket covering the forest. While it was cold standing there watching the sunrise, the excellent views more than made up for that and I had great fun snapping away at different angles and focal lengths. It wasn't the most stunning of light shows but a solid all-round performance. With the sun well above the horizon, we decided to head back and start the loop properly. As it turns out, we could access the spot we had chosen to watch the sunrise from by a connecting path from the communications tower so we took that back to the southern entrance of the loop (it makes more sense when you're up there). Starting the Garmin, we headed in a clockwise direction to take in the western slope first and it was a battle heading along the overgrown trail. The reason for the severe growth is that this area was affected by a bushfire in 2015 and as is typical when a fire goes through, it encourages certain species to thrive like the Parrot Bush that is found here.