Paten's Brook Walk Trail
Start - Perth Hills Discovery Centre
Length - 8.3km (Loop)
Grade - Orange
Terrain - Single Track, 4x4 Track
Vertical Climb - 240m
Time - 2-3 hours
Signed - Not Anymore
Date Hiked - 28th June 2015
Traditional Custodians - Wajuk People
Directions - The start of the hike begins at the Perth Hills Discovery Centre in Mundaring. From Great Eastern Hwy take Mundaring Weir Rd south until you reach Allen Rd. Turn left and follow this until you reach the car park. Look for the Bibbulmun Track sign for the start of the trail.
Warning/Update - DPaW have removed the trail markers for this trail because it falls within the water catchment area for Mundaring Weir Dam. It is sad to lose a hiking trail that has existed for many years, especially such an enjoyable one like Paten's Brook, but please do not attempt to hike this trail as it will be quite easy to get lost without markers. Hopefully there are more hiking trails planned for the future to replace it but for now we must respect the decision made by DPaW. I am leaving my original post on here to preserve the memory of the trail and so people still have access to photos from the area that they can connect with their own experiences.
Original Post - Mundaring is a fantastic little town out in the hills and is made famous by the mighty dam located not far from the centre of town. Normally I would see Mundaring Weir after 16km of hiking from the start of the Bibbulmun Track but this time I decided to head out there by car and check out some of the many small hiking trails in the area. One trail I had found that was top of my list was the 8km Paten's Brook Walk Trail that was set to provide great views over Lake C.Y O'Connor along with a challenging enough length.
Getting out there is simple, get onto Great Eastern Highway until you reach Mundaring and turn right at the set of traffic lights. Follow the signs leading you to Mundaring Weir and the start point for the trail is in the car park of the Perth Hills National Park Centre on Allen Rd. Being a loop you can go either way but the trail leading anti-clockwise isn't that apparent when you are in the car park (it is down past the white boom gates of the gravel section of Allen Rd and marked with an arrow to the right). I started at the Bibbulmun Track sign and headed uphill to start the 8.33km hike.
Section One - Bibbulmun Beauty - Perth hikers will be at home in this first section as you gradually climb through the classic Australian bush scene of Jarrah forest, grass trees and orange gravel paths. When I arrived there was a small amount of fog hanging around and it created a really cool effect with the dappled sunlight streaming between the trees. The first 2-3km follows the famous Bibbulmun Track so along with the white and green trail markers of the Paten's Brook Trail, you get a familiar yellow Wagyl right next to it. The track deviation from the Bibbulmun is well sign posted (see gallery below) so unless you aren't really paying much attention you will be fine.
The turn-off takes you down to the Paten's Brook campsite but before you reach it there are a few cool little areas to explore. One photo opportunity is a hollowed out tree that is right on the trail with its fantastic grey/black colouring. Soon after the hollow tree, the trail makes a bit of a turn onto narrow tracks once again and you come across what I think is the best section of forest on the trail. Just above the Paten's Brook Campsite you get to see down into a little valley and the way the sun was positioned, it lit up the forest with golden light.
It was one of those moments on a trail where you just stop and smile. A quick descent down some steps and you find the toilet block of the campsite (I didn't explore the area to see if there was a camp shelter) before heading off on a 4x4 track down towards the crumbly remains of Allen Rd. When you reach the half tarmac, half gravel Allen Rd you are greeted with tree blocked views across the valley. There is a rocky outcrop you can reach to get a better view before heading off towards the next section.
Section Two - The Forbidden Forest - About 100m along Allen Rd from the 4x4 track there is a left turn onto another gravel 4x4 track. Unfortunately there is no sign marking this turn and I ended up quite a way down Allen Rd before realising this probably wasn't the right way to go. I backtracked, searched a little and ended up finding a trail marker nailed to a pine tree just off the 4x4 track.
The Forbidden Forest was something of a surprise to me as I thought the area would be nothing but Jarrah forest but it seems long ago they decided a pine plantation would be a good idea. Instead of the friendly mix of greys, bright greens, yellows and orange you get with the typical Australian bush, in its place is the dark green shroud of pine trees and the brown/orange where the needles fall and suffocate the forest floor. When the sun isn't shining it can be a gloomy looking place and add in the occasional caulking crow and the scene is perfect for a slasher film.
It's a good thing the entire 2km section is uphill so you will be too busy catching your breath to notice the centaurs, gargantuan spiders and unicorns. About half way through you stumble across Hagrid's old gamekeeper’s cottage (see gallery) that hasn't been used in quite a while. Keep your wands at the ready on the needle covered paths, always looking for the white & green trail markers, otherwise you might wander astray and into danger (but not really). The end of the Forbidden Forest comes with the scaling of one final climb towards the safety of Jarrah trees.
Section Three - Lake C.Y O'Connor - When you have crested the last hill of the Forbidden Forest and descended a small hill, you catch sight of the expanse of Lake C.Y O'Connor. Created with the damming of the Helena River Valley, Lake C.Y O'Connor is a vital water source for residents of Perth. For obvious reasons access to the lake is not permitted but you can still gaze upon it from a distance. The views across the lake are spectacular with a reddish tinge to the southern hills providing some great photo opportunities.
At this point I hadn't taken a break and the tea in my thermos was getting cold so I found a boulder to drink my tea on and admire the views. The remaining couple of kilometres are a gentle stroll through the bush with lots to soak in and enjoy. Watch out for the left turn that leads to the creek crossing (dry when I was there) and it's only one last uphill trek to Allen Rd and the finish.
Final Thoughts – If you love the outdoors then Mundaring is definitely for you. Paten's Brook is one on a few trails in the area but at 8.33km it is long enough to provide a challenge and short enough that almost everyone can get through it easily. Having the trail start at the Perth Hills National Park Centre is a great idea as it gives you something to do afterwards and inspiration to keep coming back and explore the other trails (which I will be doing later this winter).
While I can't understand why the pine forest hasn't been logged and rehabilitated as native forest, it does make for an interesting change. On a wet day it would be quite dark in there and you can have some fun shooting your own horror movie. Once you have cleared the pine trees it is back to the relaxing scenes of Lake CY O’Connor and the calls of the native birds.
If you are after a bit of a challenging hike in a great location then look no further than Paten’s Brook. It is well signed (apart from one section on Allen Rd), has great scenery and provides enough hills to provide a decent workout. At the end it is only a short drive to cafes & bakeries located in Mundaring and who doesn’t like an after hike treat?
Get out there and experience it!
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