Why Albany is a Hiking Paradise
Variety they say is the spice of life and this is particularly pertinent to the greater Albany region. You want mountains, go explore some mountains. Feel like the beach then find your feet gracing endless pristine white floors of perfection. Ancient forests, staring into the wild abyss of the Southern Ocean, urban walks exploring the town's rich history, gentle wildflower filled river walks and so much more awaits you just 450km south of Perth.
This may read like my own personal love letter to this great town but there are so many reasons to consider spending a week or two exploring this piece of hiking paradise nestled on the rugged south coast of Western Australia. With so many different experiences, take a look at the map and choose your own adventure. Besides the occasional day or two over 30 degrees, Albany is perfect all year round provided you don't mind a bit of rain.
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Torndirrup National Park - Explore the Wild Coast
Length - 12.5km | Vertical Climb - 629m | Time - 3-5 hours
One of the most underrated trails in the South West, the Bald Head Walk Trail takes you on a journey to the edge of the wild. Climb up the granite to the introductory peak of Isthmus Hill before traversing the ridgeline of the Flinders Peninsula to the final granite dome of Bald Head. Along the way you will encounter stunning views of King George Sounds, limestone steps cut straight into the landscape, a colourful granite ridge and a steep trek down to the finishing cairn on Bald Head. One of the best walks in the Albany area and should be a must-hike for any serious hiker.
Length - 4km | Vertical Climb - 243m | Time - 1-2 hours
If you aren't up for the rigors of the Bald Head Walk Trail then Peak Head offers a similar experience but is only a third of the distance. You will start off in peppermint forest before getting sight of the Southern Ocean and magnificent views up and down the unforgiving coastline. The end point at the titular Peak Head is a slippery granite dome that when wet gives you a healthy respect for the dangers that live in Torndirrup National Park.
Length - 5km | Vertical Climb - 164m | Time - 1-2 hours
One of the heritage trails from the 1988 bicentennial celebrations, this stunning loop trail gives you a great feeling of isolation despite being a stones throw away from the centre of town. Starting at Whalers Cove, you walk through a small forest section before coming across elevated views of Vancouver Peninsula and what is in store for the hike. Descending down the path you will explore the two very different beaches broken up with a climb up to the granite dome of Point Possession. Being in the centre of King George Sound, you won't be short of things to admire and the memory card in your camera will get as good of a workout as you do.
The Eastern Shores - Rivers, Wildflowers and Beaches
Length - 11km | Vertical Climb - 117m | Time - 2-4 hours
Swapping the beaches and rugged cliffs of Torndirrup for the calm waters of the Kalgan River, the Luke Pen Walk is the perfect way to experience the gentler side of Albany. Following the many meanders of the Kalgan River, east of the town centre, this 11km trail provides a relaxing experience as you spot dozens of varieties of wildflowers, discover the history of the river and take in the slow pace and many secluded spots along this peaceful waterway. The cherry on top for this trail is you can enjoy it with your four legged friend.
Length - 5km | Time - 1-2 hours
On the other side of King George Sound from Torndirrup NP is the nature reserve at Two Peoples Bay. Don and Alissa from The Long Way's Better recently explored the Baie Des Deux Peuples Heritage Trail, a 5km hike taking in the amazing beaches and coastal cliffs in yet another spectacular part of Albany. Enjoy amazing views, rocky shores and pristine beaches as you get a small taste of the wondrous southern coastline of Western Australia. Read all about the Baie Des Deux Peuples Heritage Trail here.
Bibblumun Track - Windfarms and the Southern Terminus
Length - 1,000km | Time - 30-60 days
Albany is home to the Southern Terminus of the world famous Bibbulmun Track, giving you the opportunity to sample a couple of sections close to town. Starting in the centre of town you can walk around the bay towards Torndirrup National Park before heading into the bush towards Sandpatch (15.5km). Another hike you can do is park at the Sandpatch car park and walk towards the Cosy Corner car park (22km). This stretch take you along some amazing beaches and past the famous Albany Wind Farm. With a taste of the Bibbulmun you might start planning your full End to End journey. Read all about these two sections at The Long Way's Better.
Porongurups - Ancient Forests and Timeless Views
Length - 4.4km | Vertical Climb - 282m | Time - 1-2 hours
Heading north from Albany lies the first of the mountain ranges, the Porongurups. While not as big as the Stirling Range, they still pack some excellent trails and amazing views. About 50km from the town centre is the Castle Rock Granite Skywalk, a marvel of nature enhanced by the wonders of modern engineering. Perched on top of the granite peak is a stainless steel platform that is accessed by a 7m ladder that once climbed provides some fantastic 360 degree views. The journey to the top is a tough walk but within the ancient Karri forest it doesn't seem so hard.
Length - 5.3km | Time - 2 hours
Rated as one of the TrailsWA Top Trails, the Nancy Peak Trail showcases the best of the Porongurups. Walk through towering Karri forest, scale rocky paths and enjoy the open expanses of the granite formations that dot the Porongurups. During the wetter months visibility can be impaired but the greenery of the forest will more than make up for that. Add in a side trip to the brilliantly named Devil's Slide and you have an experience that is one of the best close to Albany.
Stirling Range - Lose Yourself in the Mountains
Length - 6km | Vertical Climb - 729m | Time - 2-5 hours
Bluff Knoll is an icon of the South West, being the most popular mountain in the Stirling Range and the tallest at 1099m. With excellent facilities at the trail head and a well worn path all the way to the summit, Bluff Knoll is a great experience for all that visit. The journey to the top is a bit of a challenge but anyone with a good level of fitness and a positive attitude can make the summit where the rewards on a clear day will make you forget any sore legs. Definitely a must-do when visiting the Albany region.
Length - 3km | Vertical Climb - 376m | Time - 1-3 hours
Often forgotten amongst the taller and more talked about peaks, Mount Hassell is the hidden gem of the Stirling Range. The hike is a tale of three summits as you enjoy spectacular views back towards Mt Trio and Bluff Knoll. With each summit you are treated to better views and if you visit during wildflower season (late spring through summer) then expect a decent amount of colour on the slopes. It may not have a high profile but this is certainly one hike that won't disappoint.
Length - 6.4km | Vertical Climb - 506m | Time - 2-4 hours
Not as well known as some of the other peaks in the Stirling Range, Mount Magog is actually one of the steepest climbs you can tackle. While the length is longer than most of the other day hikes, a lot of this is on the flat area leading up to the climb. Once you start ascending though it gets steep all the way to the summit. The reward for effort is worth it and you'll get to enjoy the views looking back towards the eastern peaks, Talyuberlup below and across to the western pass. If you have the time then take a trip out to Mount Magog.
Length - 3km | Vertical Climb - 317m | Time - 1-3 hours
Being one of the shorter walks in the Stirling Range, Mt Trio is a great introduction to hiking in the area. What it lacks in size it certainly makes up for in gradient and it doesn't take long before you are tackling the steep steps up to the saddle section. Once you reach the saddle though you can relax and enjoy a gentle saunter up to the summit and the full panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Soak up the views for a while and let the legs recover before the steep descent that turns your legs into jelly.
Length - 2.6km | Vertical Climb - 380m | Time - 2-4 hours
Climb up to where dragons nest and stare out upon the vastness of eternity. Talyuberlup may not be the tallest peak but it does offer up a chance to visit an expansive cave and you can argue with the scenery around the summit. Tall rocky spires, large drop offs and a flat summit path providing views that are worth the hard slog up the mountain. Take a photo or two in the dragons nest before beginning your descent back down to the mortal world.
Length - 4km | Vertical Climb - 534m | Time - 2-5 hours
This is the big one. The hardest day walk in the Stirling Range and one of the most famous thanks to the literal mountain of scree that you have to navigate through to get to the summit. Once you have picked your way through the barrage of boulders the final stretch up to the summit is a narrow scramble at dizzying heights. Your reward is the knowledge that you conquered Toolbrunup and the epic sights that accompany this challenging feat.