Walk your way: 5 wellness-boosting hikes in WA
John Muir is known as the ‘Father of the National Parks’. He was one of the most famous naturalists in America and the world. He believed, “in every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks”. And, we tend to agree.
The good feelings we get from stepping out into the fresh air are obvious because we feel them every time we don our hiking boots. Have you ever wondered why hiking makes us feel on top of the world? Hint: it’s not because you’ve just walked up a really big hill.
Hiking is a map to health and happiness
We know that spending time in nature really does make us happier. However, could a long hike have more benefits than sitting quietly under a tree? Luckily for us, there have been plenty of studies done around the health benefits of walking in nature.
In a book written by Daniel Levitin, he states that hiking can exercise your hippocampus which is the part that keeps your brain sharp. He explains, “Being outside is good because anything can happen. You’re encountering twigs and roots and rocks and creatures; you’ve got low limbs that you have to duck under. All that kind of stuff is essential to keeping a brain young.”
In another study, they found that walking in green spaces helps us recover from the mental fatigue that we experience in our connected world where screens are a constant. Then there’s a study that suggests that beautiful nature can improve our relationships. While another has shown increased creative thinking after wilderness hiking. And, scientists have suggested that hiking benefits our planet indirectly because it increases our connection to nature.
It seems that hiking can do our brains and bodies some good. So, are you ready to discover 5 welllness-boosting hikes in WA?
A walk within your reach
Western Australia is big. It can often feel like the best hikes are too many kilometres away. However, there are plenty of great hikes and national parks close to Perth. One of our cities best-kept secrets is the Walyunga National Park, just 40 minutes from the CBD. With rich Indigenous history, tree-filled valleys and the cooling waters of the Swan River, Walyunga National Park is the perfect day trip.
The best walk in the park: You can’t beat the Kangaroo Trail. You’ll love crossing creeks, boulder-jumping and wildflower hunting as you climb the hill from Walyunga Pool. This hike is 4km return so allow 2 hours.
Your next all-day adventure
Disconnect from your busy life at John Forest National Park, which is only 30 minutes from Perth. Located on the edge of the Darling Scarp, it’s one of Australia’s oldest conservation areas and Western Australia’s first national park. The beautifully rugged wilderness offers great opportunities for walking, cycling and nature spotting. Here, you’ll see the most relaxed group of Kangaroos in all of Australia (according to us anyway).
The best walk in the park: The 15km Eagle View Walk takes you on a loop in the national park with great views across the Swan Coastal Plain. You’ll spot the ocean in the distance and get up close and personal with beautiful waterfalls. Allow all day for this hike and make sure you have plenty of time for an ice-cold drink at the tavern.
The best ever bush sleepover
Stretching from Kalamunda to the historic town of Albany, the Bibbulmun Track is one of WA’s most famous walks. Go from end to end and you’ll spot towering forests, giant granite boulders, and breathtaking coastal heathlands. If you’re not up to a 1,000 km test of endurance, there are some great overnight hikes you can enjoy on the trail.
The best overnight hike: This is not a walk for the faint-hearted, the 16.5km return walk from Sullivan Rock will take you to the Mount Cooke campsite and back again. Spend the night at the base of the highest point in the Darling Range, make sure you save some energy to walk to the top. It’s an extra 2km to the peak of Mount Cooke.
Take a short break with a long walk
Beautiful beaches, spectacular scenery and incredible views from your bed — sounds like the ultimate holiday doesn’t it? Welcome to the Leeuwin Naturalist Ridge, which is on the ocean’s edge of the incredible Leeuwin Naturalist National Park. Take a multi-day hike here and you’ll be treated to rugged limestone sea cliffs, windswept headlands, curving beaches and sheltered bays.
The best walk in the park: The world-famous Cape to Cape Track. Running for 123km, this multi-day hike is absolutely stunning. There’s incredible plants, animals, views and places to camp along the track.
Reach the peak
Want to complete one of WA’s most challenging hikes? Mount Augustus or Burringurrah as it is known by the Wadjari people is twice as tall as Uluru. Much like its central Australian counterpart, Mount Augustus is best at dawn and dusk. The setting and rising sun makes the rock dance in spectacular colour. You’ll find this natural wonder 465km west of Carnarvon but we think the drive is worth it.
The best walk in the park: The Petroglyph Trail leads you to a rock wall with Aboriginal engravings. It’s the perfect place to quietly ponder Wajarri culture.
Bushwalking and hiking: a how-to
We firmly believe that hiking is for everyone, it’s one of the things that we love about it! If you’re not an avid hiker or you haven’t been on many bushwalks there are a few things you need to know before you go.
Plan and prepare: Always be prepared with a map and a compass — and make sure you know how to use them. Check the weather before you go and never go bushwalking when there is extreme heat, cold, wind or fire danger. It’s always a good idea to get some information from a local ranger or a visitor centre before you set off.
Never walk alone
Beginner bushwalkers should always walk in groups of three or more. This means someone can go for help if there is an emergency.
Don’t tackle a big, challenging hike for your first time. Even if you’re really fit, it’s better to start small and get the hang of hiking. You could always join or social Spring Into Parks walks, check the calendar.
Always stay on the trail
As tempting as it is to discover new ground, staying on the trail means you have minimal impact on the environment. Plus, it will be easier for someone to find you, and for you to find your way, if you stick to the trail.
Slip, slop, slap (and take water)
Remember the sage advice from your parents? Never go hiking without sunscreen, loose protective clothing and a hat. You’ll need plenty of water, snacks and really good shoes.
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