Rocky Pool Walk Trail
Start - End of Spring Rd, Kalamunda
Length - 5.1km (Loop)
Grade - Orange
Terrain - Single Track, 4x4 Track
Vertical Climb - 202m
Time - 1-2 Hours
Signed - Occasional Markers
Date Hiked - 30th April 2016
Best Time - Autumn to Spring
Traditional Custodians - Wajuk People
Directions - The Rocky Pool Walk Trail can be located by heading to the car park at the end of Spring St, just out of Kalamunda. There is no information board but the trail runs along 4x4 tracks for the most part and has a few trail markers so you don't get lost.
The Hike - With a couple of friends wanting me to take them on a short hike, I decided that it would be a good idea to kill two birds with one stone and explore a new trail while I was at it. Now the only question was what trail to do that would be a combination of the right length, interesting enough to new hikers and relatively close to home. After being inspired by Nature Mondays recent trip out to Rocky Pool, I decided to see what was what and ventured out there. A much later start than usual beckoned and we were at the starting point by 8am ready for a casual stroll through the Kalamunda bushland. The start area is very familiar as the finish to a there and back trek on the Bibbulmun Track requires one last slog up Spring Rd and I knew the start area was close to a section of the track.
To start with though we headed in a clockwise direction, following light blue markers, along a narrow 4x4 track. The first short hill gets the lungs expanded and the blood pumping before settling down into some gentler downhill sections complete with early morning views towards the Helena River Valley. A family of black cockatoos interrupted the morning silence with their deafening commotion but all was soon forgotten as the climbing began again. Among the tall timber of a forest dampening up after a long, dry summer, the air was fresh as the gentle climb progressed. Before long we were at the top of the 4x4 track and making a couple of turns to head east (motoring fans will notice the trail looks very similar to a mirrored image of Monza). Having read the Nature Monday blog post before heading out I knew it contained some tricky downhill slopes but expected something similar to the short sections on the Lion's Lookout hike.
What we found were two fairly steep inclines on 4x4 tracks littered with loose rocks and muddy patches. The first descent averages about an 18% gradient down over 400m before levelling out for a while. There is a section of exposed granite here where you can rock hop and admire the stunning views east towards the power lines (and hills). When you are ready the final 300m descent is just as steep as the first one but you are well practised by now and it should be a breeze. At the bottom of the hill the markers direct you into the bush where the path just disappears .I don't think this is the official track but with a bit of bush bashing you soon arrive at a 4x4 track and can head off in the right direction (south-east and then south). A short walk down the Lower Helena Bridal Trail (didn't see any brides unfortunately) and you reach the namesake of the trail, Rocky Pool.
The information board on the 4x4 track provides a short history into the location (I will leave it for you to find out) and there are several access points down to the creek. Being the middle of autumn it was fairly dry but after some much needed rain over the past week there was the slightest of slight trickles flowing. I can imagine with more water that this would make for a nice swimming area so will have to visit again in late winter to see the transformation (can confirm that after the rains it is a lovely place to visit). For now we explored the rocks, Shannon found a dead yabbie and prodded it with a stick and Luke pondered Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. When we had finished being little kids by laughing at the hole in the granite it was time to move on and back to a very familiar surrounding. At the bridge over Piesse Brook is a turnoff to the Bibbulmun Track and one I know very well from previous hikes. Having told Luke & Shannon about a hilariously shaped rock (those who have hiked the first section of the Bibbulmun will know the one I'm talking about) at the top of the hill leading away from the turnoff, we couldn't not visit it.
This slight detour up the hill is worth it for the views back down the valley but isn't part of the Rocky Pool Trail. Having taken some photos and giggled a bit we headed back down the hill towards the Bibbulmun Track turnoff. From there it is over the bridge (sadly no water in the creek) and along the 4x4 track until you reach a right turn marked by the Bibbulmun waugyl pointing you into the bush. This is the final climb of the hike and follows the course of another creek. I love this section of the Bibbulmun with its narrow paths, rocky steps and when flowing, its little rapids and pools. Interesting features along this bit include a tree holding up some giant granite boulders, a fallen tree that makes for a nice bridge over the creek and some great views down the valley. Arriving at the top of the climb there is a choice of heading south (left) or east (straight on). Take the straight on option unless you want to do some more climbing and it isn't long before you see the car park again.
Final Thoughts – After my Six Summit Challenge the previous Monday, it was nice to get back out on a shorter trail and just enjoy a casual stroll through the forest. You never know what a trail will throw at you until you do it and I have to say, the Rocky Pool Walk Trail was a lot better than I expected.
A combination of fantastic forest, some steeper than expected downhills, a nice feature location and a suitable length made for a pleasant mornings walk. Being walking distance from Kalamunda would make this a great before work jaunt if you lived in the area.
If you are new to hiking or just after a short trail to explore then the Rocky Pool Walk Trail is for you. Judging by the amount of cars in the car park when we finished, this is a popular hike and with good reason.
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