Stirling Range National Park
Directions - From Chester Pass Rd that divides the Stirling Range head north until you reach Formby Road South. Turn left and keep going until the left turn for Mount Trio Access. Take this until you reach the car park at the end. The trail head is located at the information board.
The Hike - The Stirling Range National Park, located 100kms north of Albany, is a real treasure of the South West and well worth a visit to scale the impressive peaks we just don't get in Perth. My plans were to use the Stirling Range as the first leg of a week long road trip in the state's south to celebrate becoming a DPaW Park Explorer but battery charging issues forced me to cut my trip short. Thankfully I started here as I received a warm welcome (literally) by the mountains and had a great time enjoying some of the other walks not named Bluff Knoll that this area is famous for. Leaving early in the morning on a sunny Saturday I headed down Albany Highway, past Mt Cooke and four hours later I could finally see the Stirling Range. I arrived from the northern entry as Mount Trio was my first conquest of the day and I wanted to see what it looked like from the caravan park that it lends its name to.
On Salt River Rd I encountered what I thought would be an abundance of wildlife on my trip when I saw a snake, a bobtail, a larger lizard and a fox (not native) all in the space of a few kilometres. With some heavy road works going on I was treated to some gravel roads before arriving at the entrance of the Mt Trio Bush Camp and Caravan Park. This is not the location of the trail to Mt Trio but does provide a great location to base yourself out of if you want to explore the area and have the luxury of a powered campsite and a hot shower at night. I would be staying at Moingup Springs so only stopped at the entrance to take a few photos of the mountains in the distance. Itching to get stuck into the hiking I moved on and it wasn't long before I saw the signs for Mt Trio from Formby Road South and turned onto the gravel road. The mountain is framed perfectly as you drive up the incline to the car park and I was getting excited. I deliberately chose this hike as the first one so I could find my legs again after a few weeks of non-activity. Being a Class 4 hike and one of the shorter mountains in the area (mountains for Western Australia) I could enjoy a good warm-up before tackling some of the more difficult climbs. When I arrived at the car park there was already a couple of cars there and being a Saturday I figured this would be the case. I changed into my hiking gear, filled up my water bottles and started snapping some photos in the intense midday brightness. The start of the trail is marked with an information stand and a short boardwalk section before brutally throwing you into a 33% gradient until you reach the saddle.
So much for the gentle warm-up as the steps kept getting steeper and steeper until I turned around after a short distance and was well above the car park. Noticing a large rock standing out from the tree line I tried to get a good shot in frame but the harshness of the midday sun meant I probably wasn't getting the most ideal photographic conditions on this hike. I continued on and came across the first excuse for a rest section on the climb up to the saddle, the orange bluffs that tower over the trail. In the midday sun it was easy to think I was in the Kimberley with the orange rock jutting out from the landscape but being in the low 20s and not humid at all, it was a bit of a stretch. I marvelled at the scene and used the photo stop as an excuse to catch my breath. Not far up the trail was a group that I guessed belonged to one of the cars below. They were heading up still and looked to be having a tougher time getting up the steep gradient. I thanked them for moving off the trail (they viewed it as a good excuse to stop) and powered on to ever increasing heights. There was a little respite from the heat as the trail snaked through some overhanging trees and I enjoyed the coolness as I approached the saddle, passing another group along the way. With the legs starting to come good and the lungs finally understanding what was required of them, I made one final push to the easier saddle portion of the hike.