From the start point (at waypoint ‘START’), head NE along a continuation of the vehicle track. At ‘1’ the track intersects with another old vehicle track. Continue ahead along the track close to the east bank of a stream course. At about ‘1-1’ the old vehicle track ends but continues northward up the narrowing gully through the forest as a foot-track. At ‘1-2’ cross a sloping granite outcrop and continue northward up the gully. At ‘2’ the foot-track bends sharply left to cross the stream course and then climbs initially quite steeply upslope through forest and then heathland/shrubland via ‘3’. Continue NW up the foot-track onto an extensive SE-sloping outcrop via ‘4’ then follow the occasional small cairns northward across and then up the steepish, mostly bare rock slope via ‘5’, gaining sweeping views southward, including to Boonerring Hill, 17km SSE. Meet the Bibbulmun Track at ‘5-1’. You will now follow the Bibbulmun Track NNW for 3.5km across Mount Cooke to the Mount Cooke campsite (via ‘6’ etc). At the top of the 120m climb up the outcrop explore around the large boulder located just to the right (east) of the track. The boulder conceals a sizable, low-ceilinged cave which can provide good shelter for walkers caught on the ridge during inclement winter weather. Continue up onto the narrow rocky ridge, gaining at ‘6-1’ a sweeping view east across the Darling Range and also 31km due north to Mount Dale, on the horizon. The track now follows the ridge for about 1km NNW (via ‘6-2’) and reaches the actual summit rock cairn marker at ‘7’ near the northern end. The track then initially descends northward via ‘8’ and ‘9’. At ‘8-1’ consider taking a worthwhile very short off-track diversion to a granite slab to the left at ‘8-2opt’ from where there is an excellent view NW to Mounts Vincent and Cuthbert. The track veers sharp left (west) at ’10 and soon descends more gently. Soon after crossing a small footbridge at ’10-1’, arrive at the Mount Cooke campsite (at ’10-2’) which is a good spot to take a rest break. When leaving the campsite, don’t follow the Bibbulmun Track up the hillside behind the campsite, but instead follow the old vehicle track which heads WNW along slope from the campsite. After 300m, at ‘11’, the track meets Cooke Road (old vehicle track). Turn left to follow Cooke Road (via ’11-1′) for 2km SSE to ‘12’, then veer left onto an old vehicle track which heads initially uphill. The track soons flattens and crosses a few small gullies over the next 500-600m. The track veers uphill again toward ‘12-2’, and then crosses two more gullies. At ‘13’ veer right (SSE) to leave the vehicle track and descend partly off-track through open forest. Cross a small stream course at ‘13-1’ to return to the start point.
Option, for more challenging walk (11km): The following WalkGPS alternative circuit was an excellent route prior to the devastating wildfire of January 2003 but was much affected by the fire. Following the fire the off-track portion of the route became unpleasantly very scratchy/prickly and difficult in places. An increasingly dense new understorey of low shrubs (including dense patches of ‘Prickly Moses’, Acacia pulchella) became established, replacing sections of previously easier open forest walking and obliterating previous animal tracks. One of the worst affected sections was along the northern extension of the Mount Cooke ridge (between waypoints ‘Alt-6-2’ and ‘Alt-9’). That section can be bypassed by going direct from waypoint ‘Alt 6-2′ to join the Bibbulmun Track at about ’10’ (and also bypassing the Mount Cooke campsite, reducing the walk distance to only about 8km). Gaiters, trousers, long-sleeved shirt and even gloves should be worn to protect yourself from prickles and scratches if you do want to brave this original, more challenging route: On reaching ‘1’, instead of following the old vehicle track to ‘1-1’, veer right and head NNE up the hillside. Cross a laterite-capped ridge and meet the Bibbulmun Track (at ‘Alt 1-1’). Turn left to follow the Bibbulmun Track northward and gently uphill along the ridge for about 400m. When the track veers left at ‘Alt-2’ continue northward along the east-sloping hillside (to ‘Alt-3’) and then continue along slope NW (gaining views through the forest of the steep eastern granite face of Mount Cooke). Soon descend to cross a steep-sided stream gully (at ‘Alt-3-1’). Continue along slope northward (via ‘Alt-3-2’, ‘Alt-4’ etc). Cross another gully at ‘Alt-4-1’. After ‘Alt-4-2’ veer NNW to climb along a moderately steep forested slope skirting around granite boulders and small outcrops, gaining a view NE across a side valley to a rocky ridge. Cross the granite slab in the stream gully (at ‘Alt-5’) which is a good spot for a break. Then head NE to climb uphill behind large boulders and outcrops to reach the spur ridge (near ‘Alt-6’). Follow the narrow ridge uphill NNW (picking a way through possibly dense ‘Prickly Moses’), gaining eastward views across the Darling Range and to Geddes Rock 6.5km to the NE. After ‘Alt-6-1’ the slope flattens onto the northern extension of the Mount Cooke ridge. Continue NW initially along the laterite-capped ridge top and then descend slightly on the western side near ‘Alt-6-2’ for a view south to the granite outcrops below the summit of Mount Cooke. (Note: At this point, due to possible dense growth of ‘Prickly Moses’ along the ridge to the north, you can opt to go direct from ‘Alt-6-2′ to join the Bibbulmun Track southward at about ‘10′, then follow the described route in reverse from ‘10’ back to the start point.) If you wish to stay on the full, alternative route, continue north and NW along the ridge through possibly quite dense understorey in places (via ‘Alt-7’, ‘Alt-7-1’). Veer WNW at ‘Alt-8’ to head along a narrowing, rocky spur ridge. Cross a dark-coloured dolerite outcrop (at ‘Alt-8-1’); now possibly hidden under a blanket of ‘Prickly Moses’) and continue along the narrow ridge to ‘Alt-9’, then turn sharp left (SW), to initially descend quite steeply and cross a low granite outcrop slab at ‘Alt-9-1’ before the slope flattens. At ‘Alt-9-2′ veer WSW and continue gently downslope. The slope steepens again before you meet the Bibbulmun Track at ‘Alt-9-3’. Turn left to follow the track down to the Mount Cooke Campsite (at ’10-2’ on the described route above). This is about the halfway point on the walk. On leaving the campsite head eastward on the Bibbulmun Track toward ‘10-1’ and follow the described route in reverse from ‘10’ across the summit of Mount Cooke back to the start point.