Sunday, 18 June 2017

Lion's Lookout (Korung National Park)


A short but hilly walk in the Perth Hills, the Lion's Lookout walk provides outstanding views of the Swan Coastal Plain. Largely following old, steep vehicle tracks through delightful Wandoo woodlands, this pleasant and scenic trail would be even more spectacular in springtime due to the prevalence of flowering heath further along the walk. A good short option in the Perth Hills area.



Distance: 4 km (loop)
Gradient: Alternates between some very steep ascents and descents with some gentle sections. 
Quality of Path: Mostly unsealed vehicle tracks, some of which are quite severely eroded. 
Quality of Signage: Generally well signed, however there are a few junctions with missing signage. To avoid confusion, the Shire of Kalamunda's route description, map and/or KML file are essential.
Experience Required: Some Bushwalking Experience Recommended
Time: 1-1.5 Hours
Steps: None, however some of the severely eroded sections of tracks could be considered informal steps
Best Time to Visit: Autumn-Spring, though Spring would be the most spectacular time to visit
Entry Fee: No
Getting There: The trail starts at the Lion's Lookout car park. The Lion's Lookout can be reached from Welshpool Rd East, and is just south of the intersection of Welshpool Rd East and Crystal Brook Rd



Given the short length and easy terrain of the Channel 10 Tower Walk was not much of a challenge at all, it made sense for Alissa and I to tackle a second short walk on the same day. Looking at the Shire of Kalamunda's walk trail page, the Lion's Lookout was the most obvious choice for our next walk. I had been hoping to save the Lion's Lookout for later in the season when the wildflowers are in bloom, however the fact it was only four minutes down the road from the Channel 10 Tower meant we could basically knock the two off in 2 hours.


Having seen some of the poorly visited lookouts in the Perth Hills, Alissa and I were surprised by the well maintained car park and green grass of the Lion's Lookout, as well as the appearance of a somewhat hip looking food truck parked up in the corner! The trail starts along a gravel road that runs east of the main grassed area. As we have come to expect from the Shire of Kalamunda, there was no obvious trailhead present and we had to use their KML file to ensure we were on the right track.


From the car park, the trail turns left and immediately ascends the first of several climbs along the trail.


This first climb is relatively short and no where near as steep as some encountered further along the trail, and it rewards the climb with a flat section that offers superb views across the Swan Coastal Plain.


The next climb is one of the longest and steepest along the walk, as it follow the old vehicle tracks up to a higher lookout point.


These old four wheel drive tracks are quite severely rutted, reminding Alissa and I of the section of the Dell to South Ledge loop that is shared with the Bibbulmun Track, as well as the Piesse Gully Loop in Kalamunda National Park.


Halfway up the ascent, the track levels out to a beautiful stand of Wandoo with a fairly open understorey.


Just in front of the Wandoo is an area that appears to be commonly used as a lookout point, complete with an improvised fire ring that someone has put here. Although I question the safety of lighting a fire outside of a designated fire ring (and I'm sure camping out here is not really allowed either), I do understand the attraction of this beautiful spot.


From the lookout point, the skyscrapers of Perth's CBD can be seen towering in the distance - although the glare of the late afternoon Sun did make it rather challenging to photograph.


Beyond the lookout point, the walk continues along the rutted vehicle track before reaching a junction at the crest of the hill. An old makeshift sign to the left indicates that Lion's Lookout can be reached down the road to the left, however the trail instead continues straight across through a flat section of Jarrah forest.


The flat walking across the top of the hill provides an easy respite after the serious inclines encountered earlier. This area of forest looks to have had a prescribed burn go through fairly recently, giving the area an autumnal orangey-brown appearance.


After some pleasantly easy walk through the Jarrah, the trail descends back down the hill towards the Wandoo growing all the slopes.


Interestingly, the trail turns left, providing excellent views across an adjacent valley. As we were looking at the small dam in the valley, Alissa realised that we were looking at Bickley Reservoir - the small dam seen at the start of the Mason & Bird Heritage Trail! We'd seen vehicle tracks and walk trails high above the Bickley Valley whenever we've done the Mason & Bird Trail, and we realised that some of those walk trails must link up from near the Mason & Bird Trail to Lion's Lookout.


As the track continues back westward for further views across the Darling Scarp, the landscape changes to a dense understorey of heath with less of a tree canopy. This diverse heath community will be bursting with colour in Spring, making this a particularly stunning section during Perth's wildflower season.


Even with the unseasonably warm start to Winter, it was a lovely surprise to see some plants already flowering early in the season.


The trail bends back northwards as it leads back to the Lion's Lookout car park. Considering that we walked this trail before the major rains fell in late June, it was surprising to see a muddy puddle along this stretch of track. Photos from the Life of Py's coverage of this trail suggests this is something of a semi-permanent puddle that gets even larger later in the season. 


Heading downhill, this section of the track featured some of the worst erosion, and Alissa and I had to be very careful not to slip. Being a short trail, Alissa had convinced me to leave our trekking poles in the car but she would concede that they would have been very useful along some of these tricky descents!


The trail heads through some pleasant Wandoo woodlands until it reaches a junction in the trails. A sign indicates that the trail heads back up the hill, however this is actually the trail linking back up to the first major ascent, and we instead headed left and back downhill towards the start. This is why the Shire of Kalamunda KML files are essential - we would have walked up the hill again if we hadn't checked!


Having found the last two Shire of Kalamunda walks somewhat lacklustre, Alissa and I were surprised to really enjoy the Lion's Lookout trail. Although fairly short, the terrain was surprisingly tricky and is a perfect option for someone who doesn't have a lot of time but still wants a walk with a certain amount of challenge. In terms of terrain, I would compare it to the Piesse Gully Loop or its Rocky Pool variants, while the stunning views of the Darling Scarp, Wandoo woodlands and flowering heathlands in the Spring makes the challenges rewarding. This is a trail I'd happily walk again, and one of the better trails in the Shire of Kalamunda. 

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