Orchid Walk Trail
The Hike - With two Quinninup hikes already completed, there was only one left to do - the Orchid Trail. The weather in the afternoon was threatening to turn nasty so we quickly headed out after my hike around the King Karri Trail and drove out to the Orchid Walk Trail, a 4km loop on 4x4 tracks through the forest. The trail gets its name from the variety of orchids that call this part of Quinninup home. As it had only just turned to winter there was only a small hint of the upcoming explosion of wildflowers. Entry to the trail is off Karri Lake Rd just past Rainbow Trout Retreat but be warned, there is not a proper parking area nearby. We parked on the side of the road on a small gravel patch but be mindful as the land either side of the road is private property. Keep an eye out for the signs leading to both the Karri Lake Trail and the Orchid Walk.
The Orchid Walk is on the southern side of the road and takes you on a tight, single track path into some thick undergrowth. The first 500m is a traverse through the undergrowth with all of the great features previously seen on the past two walks - moss covered logs, an explosion of green and a damp forest floor. The highlight of this section is a giant Karri tree that has been uprooted and forces the path to divert around it. With the roots raised skywards, its body covered in moss & lichen and a giant hollow where it once stood, take some time to admire the size of this monster. After you pass over the wooden bridge, the trail starts the loop section marked by a sign detailing what to expect on the walk. The loop is essentially a sandy 4x4 track through the forest but it doesn't look like it is used very often so is quite narrow and covered in vegetation. The white sand tyre tracks form a stark contrast to other trails in the area, which are predominantly the orange gravel found all over the South West. This made it easy for my girlfriend to spot the three spitfires travelling in Human Centipede style along the trail (see gallery). As you head east along the trail the forest becomes a bit thinner but it isn't long before you make your first turn (well signposted) and head up the hill into some thicker stuff. As previously mentioned we were a bit early for the wildflower season but there were signs of what to expect in late winter/spring.
The red coral vine was starting to change shades and every now and then there was a spot of colour on the edges of the trail. Instead of looking out for orchids or wildflowers we started searching for the most impressive Zamia Palm, a small, spiky palm that I thought was an introduced species the first time I saw one on the Echidna Trail. This ancient plant is native to the area and the town is actually named after it with Quinninup being translated from the native aboriginal language to "Place of the Zamia Palm". Unfortunately we couldn't find a spectacular example in the undergrowth that stood out in the photos but the search kept us busy while we hiked the last section of the loop. The last downhill section is easy going and eventually will you see the information sign that marks the end of the loop. Make your way back to the start by taking the single track past the fallen tree and admire the trail from a different perspective. The weather was closing in on us by this stage so we hurried back to the car and departed for the warmth of a roaring fire and more old school VHS movies.
Spring 2017 Update - Returning a couple of years later to see what this trail was like during wildflower season, I was amazed to see what a difference a few months can make. While my first trip was almost devoid of wildflowers, coming back in October was a completely different experience. A vast array of wildflowers could be found quite easily and as you can see there is a kaleidoscope of colours from across the spectrum. If you're going to visit then I can highly recommend booking in for spring as even this fairly average trail in terms of design can bring the biggest smile to your face. Got to love Quinninup and the forests that surround it.