Northern John Forrest N.P. Walk overview

This walk in the northern area of John Forrest National Park partly overlaps with the popular Eagle’s View Trail (also on this site), but includes some off-track walking and also visits an area in the NW of the park that is bypassed by the established trail. The route covers varied terrain, partly along stream valleys and partly along the top of the Darling Scarp, past granite tors, and across laterite plateaus. There are impressive views across the Swan Coastal Plain to distant Perth and across the stream valleys. The track also passes through varied vegetation types, including heathlands, open wandoo woodlands and mixed jarrah-marri-wandoo forest. The extensive heathlands make it a great walk to do early in the wildflower season , especially when the streams are still flowing.

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  • Main features / Highlights

    This circuit walk route is within the northern area of John Forrest National Park. About 1/3 of the walk overlaps  with the popular Eagle’s View Trail, but it also includes some off-track heathland and forest walking and in part follows informal mountain bike trails.  It also offers some additional views along the Darling Scarp and across the Swan Coastal Plain to Perth City, and visits some interesting natural sculptures in the form of granite tors.  The walk includes two easy off-track crossings of Christmas Tree Creek which usually flows well by late winter-early spring and includes small rapids at one of the crossing points.

    As on the Eagle’s View Trail, the route passes through varied vegetation types, including extensive heathlands,  wandoo woodlands and mixed jarrah-marri-wandoo forest. (Sadly some of the best stands of mature wandoo were largely destroyed in a wildfire in 2010.) The broad areas of heathland make this walk especially worthwhile in the wildflower season.

    The walk can be started from either Toodyay Road at the northern end of the Park or from Taaffe Road (off Pechey Road) on the western boundary of the Park.

    Shortened walk options (10-13.5km):  The eastern part of the walk can be easily bypassed by using an alternative section of Eagle’s View Trail to reduce the walk distance by about 5km (see Option 1 in Route notes for details). Another bypass section in the north can reduce the distance by about 1.3-1.4km (see Option 2).

    Alternative start point:  See the Route notes for an alternative start point from Taaffe Road in the west.

  • Route notes

    From the Start point off Toodyay Road (waypoint ‘START’) follow the rough vehicle track uphill initially SE-ward via ‘1’, then eastward  to ‘1-1’ where the track forks. (Or see Option 3 for alternative start point off Taaffe Road). Take the righ-hand fork  to ‘2’, then follow the track southward along the hillside. After about 400m the track veers right (SW) and crosses the broad crest of a ridge at ‘2-1’ (Note: If following Option 2 route, rejoin the route at this point ‘2-1’; see Option 3 note below). Continue following the track downhill southward, along the ridge to ‘3′,  then veer off-track toward the SW to approximately follow a broad spur of the ridge downhill walking initially across mostly open heathland and around occasional rocky outcrops. The vegetation may still be very sparse here due to wildfires and prescribed burns in recent years.)  Cross a vehicle track at ‘3-1’ and join a minor (mountain bike) trail ‘3-2’. Follow the trail to a prominent granite outcrop at ‘3-3’ from where there is a good sweeping view south along the Darling Scarp, across the Park and to the coastal plain. Cross the outcrop to ‘3-4’ where the bike trail forks. Follow the left fork SSW down the gentle hillside to ‘3-5’. Then leave the trail to continue downhill for just 20m to meet a minor trail at ‘3-6’. Turn right and follow the trail westward to join an old vehicle track at ‘3-7’ which veers SSE past a mountain bike trail on the right at ‘4’. Take the left fork (ESE) at a Y-junction at ‘4-1’. At ‘4-2’, where the track veers left, continue downslope SE-ward through mainly open woodland. Meet a vehicle track at ‘5’ near a stream gully crossing. Walk SE along the track to ‘6’, then turn continue off-track to the right, along slope to ‘6-1’ and then steeply south to SW down a rocky, mainly tall heath-covered slope via ‘6-2’.  Cross a track at ‘6-3’ and then a nearby stream course. Continue SW up the slope to reach a nearby track at ‘7’. Turn left (SE) to follow the track uphill. Ignore a track joining from the right at ‘7-1’ and continue eastward on the track to a left hand bend at ‘8’. Locate an animal track on the right which will allow an easy way to head ESE for 50m through a patch of otherwise quite dense shrubland. Meet another track at ‘8-1’. Follow this track eastward also for 50m to ‘9’, then turn sharp right (southward) off-track to cross an outcrop and descend to Christmas Tree Creek at ‘10’.  Cross the creek (by a very short boulder-hop if it is flowing) and find a clear animal track up the steepish southern bank.  Then follow animal trails for an easy way through quite dense heath and across a granite outcrop to meet Eagle’s View Trail at ‘11’. (Note:  On the latter part of the Option 2 route, instead of turning left onto the Trail, turn right; see Option 3 note below). Follow the foot-track eastward (via ’12’) with some nice local  views across Christmas Tree Gully. (Note: If following Option 2 route, you will initially join the described route at ‘12’; see Option 3 note below). The Trail merges with a vehicle track at ‘13’.  After the track turns northward, it crosses Christmas Tree Creek at ‘14’ (The creek cascades over large granite slabs just to the left. You can take a small optional detour at  ’13-1’ to cross the creek at the cascades and rejoin the Trail on the other side.) Continue to ‘15′ and locate on the right a minor foot-track down to the creek. (Or see Option 1 below for alternative shortened route). Cross the creek at a suitable safe point near the small rapids; This should be a simple step-across crossing unless it is flowing unusually strongly.  After the crossing find an animal track through the heath and then climb steeply SE over and around granite outcrops and ‘tors’, and up through a broad area of mostly open heathlands to ’16’. From about this point there are good sweeping views westward across the Swan Coastal Plain. Veer left upslope to ’16-1’ then head generally NE-ward (and still off-track) through wandoo woodland along the westward-sloping hillside via ’17’ and ‘18’, gaining views across the valley. (Note: Sadly walkers don’t now get to see many of the largest mature old wandoo trees that once stood along this formerly very picturesque hillside; they were mostly destroyed in a wildfire in 2010 which burned a large part of this northern area of the Park. Regrowth vegetation in this area may be dominated for some years by denser more scratchy shrublands including Prickly Moses.) Cross a stream course at ‘19’ in a side valley and climb northward via ’19-1’. Cross a wide W-E vehicle track at ‘20’ (a former park boundary road). Descend gently to ‘21’ and cross a small stream course at ‘22’.  Veer eastward to reach a large granite slab (at ’22-1′) which provides good views across a side valley and is a nice spot for a rest stop. Continue eastward along slope up the valley, crossing another small gully at ’22-2’ and then cross the main gully of the side valley to reach a vehicle track at ‘23’. Cross the track and veer left, initially NE-ward, upslope to ‘24’.  Then veer further left, NNE, toward ‘25’ and after about 40m reach a cluster of impressive large granite boulders. Continue NNE to cross a small gully and then climb to ‘25’ where you rejoin Eagle’s View Trail as a foot-track. Turn left to follow the Trail which climbs to soon reach the edge of the nearly flat laterite surface that caps the hill top. Follow the Trail WNW-ward through picturesque wandoo woodlands and across the lateritic surface. At about ’26’ there are good views across the valley and Scarp toward Perth.  The Trail then descends quite steeply northward to ‘27’ and then NNE to meet a T-junction of vehicle tracks. Take the track directly ahead to immediately cross a sidestream at ’28’. Follow the vehicle track to ‘29’, then turn left onto a side vehicle track which crosses a bridge over Christmas Tree Creek.  Continue along this track which climbs initially gently northward (to ‘30’) and then more steeply westward up the hillside. At ’31’ turn left (south) off the vehicle track to continue on Eagle’s View Trail around the edge of the dissected laterite plateau via ‘32’ and ‘33’. (Or see Option 2 below for another alternative shortened route via ‘32’.) There are some excellent views eastward across this secluded northern valley. At ’34’ veer right (WSW) off-track to leave the Trail. Head WSW along slope and meet a mountain bike trail at ’34-1’. Turn left to follow the trail for about 100m to ’34-2’, then turn right to head westward off-track. The heathland here may be a little denser and scratchier (including ‘Prickly Moses’) but there is only a short section  that may require picking an easy way through. Cross a N-S vehicle track on the crest of a ridge at ’34-3’. (That track links northward to other vehicle tracks and so provides a good potential escape route of about 2km to reach Toodyay Road.) and continue westward. Meet another bike trail at ‘35’. Turn right to follow this trail uphill NNW through extensive heathland gaining good views across the valley and to the coastal plain. At ‘36’ briefly leave the track to take a short off-track short-cut (20m) upslope to rejoin the trail at ‘37’. At ’37-1’ the bike trail passes into wandoo woodland along the hillside. At ‘38’ where the trail turns sharply left (southward), take another short-cut by continuing off-track  NW to rejoin the trail in less than 50m at ’38-1’.  Follow the trail mostly along slope (via ’38-2’ and meet a N-S vehicle track at ‘39’. Head northward up the initially steepish track, passing a mountain bike trail entry on the left at ’39-1’ (Note:  If following Option 2 route, turn left at this point ’39-1’ to bypass the northern section near Toodyay Road; see Option 3 note below). Follow the track north to ‘40’ via ’39-2’ and ’39-3’, crossing a broad flat ridge top and partly following an old fenceline. Then turn left (initially westward) to follow a mountain bike trail gently downhill initially through wandoo woodland and then into open heathland. Turn right at ’40-1’ to head NNW mostly off-track through heathland, via ‘40-2’, ’40-3’, ’40-4’. The heathland is interrupted by scattered large granite boulders (or ‘tors’). Again there are views across the Darling Scarp and Coastal Plain and Toodyay Road will soon be within sight to the NW, in the valley. Follow animal tracks (and briefly a bike trail between ’40-2’ and ’40-3’) for the easiest, least scratchy route. Veer northward at ‘41’ to descend along a ridge of granite outcrops, Then veer NW and westward via ‘42’ and ‘42-1’ to cross a gully. Climb around a ridge following animal tracks through heathland via ’42-2’ and ’42-3’.  Cross a more open rocky area SW-ward to ‘42-4 then descend quite steeply via ’42-5’,  following more animal tracks through fairly dense heath.  Meet a vehicle track which follows the Park boundary along the SE side of Toodyay Road. Follow the track downhill (SW) for less than 200m to return to the Start point.

    Option 1, shortened walk option (~10km) : Upon reaching ‘15’, stay on Eagle’s View Trail to follow it northward about 1.3km to ‘34’. Then turn left, off-track, along slope to continue the described route via ’34-1’ etc. This short-cut bypasses the eastern section of the walk and reduces the total walk distance by ~5km. This shortened walk can be started from either the Toodyay Rd start point or from Taaffe Rd (see Option 2).

    Option 2 , shortened walk option (~13.5 km): Upon reaching ‘32’ on Eagle’s View Trail in the north, turn right onto a mountain bike trail. Follow the trail westward to meet a vehicle track at ‘Alt-10’. Turn right to follow the track to a T-junction with another track at ‘Alt-11’. Turn left to follow the track to rejoin the latter part of the described route via ’39-3’. At ’39-3’ turn right if your starting point was Toodyay Road, or turn left to rejoin the route at ’39-1’ if your starting point was Taaffe Road. This short-cut reduces the total walk distance by  1.3-1.4km. This shortened walk can be started from either the Toodyay Rd start point or from Taaffe Rd (see Option 2).

    Option 3, Alternative start point from Taaffe Road:  Starting from  ‘ALT-START’) the white barrier gate on Taaffe Rd and walk eastward 150m to the end of Taaffe Rd (at ‘Alt-1’). Turn left (north) to cross a stream course, then after 20m (at ‘Alt-2’) turn right (east) along the old vehicle track/bridle trail which follows the stream course quite closely. Pass the Eagle View Trail foot-track on the left (at ‘Alt2’). Pass a track on your right (Eagle’s View Trail again) at ‘Alt-3’ and soon  climb quite steeply uphill for about 300m to just before the the crest of a ridge. Turn sharp left at ‘Alt-4’ to head approx. NNW off-track through heathland across the  crest of a ridge to ‘Alt-5’ on the NE flank. Then head downslope to meet the Eagle’s View Trail foot-track at ‘12’ on the described route. Turn right (eastward) to follow thee route via ‘13’ etc.  Upon reaching ’39-1’ in the north, bypass the northern section of the described route (near Toodyay Road) by turning left onto a mountain bike trail leaves the track on the left. Follow this mountain bike trail, initially westward downhill to ‘Alt-6’, where the trail crosses a vehicle track, and then southward along a gentle saddle which gives good views across the valley and to part of the route already walked. When the bike trail meets the vehicle track again at ‘Alt-7’ turn right to follow the vehicle track WSW for only 40m to ‘Alt-8’. Then head off-track to the right of the track, continuing WSW through heath, across the crest of a gentle hilltop, to soon reach another vehicle track at ‘2-1’. At this point you have rejoined the described route. Continue via ‘3’ etc. Upon  meeting Eagle’s View Trail again at ‘11’, instead of turning left (as per the described route), turn right to follow the foot-track southward for about 500m, descending to ‘Alt-9’, then turn again to retrace your earlier outbound steps along the old vehicle track/bridle trail to return to the start point on Taaffe Rd . This alternative start point reduces the total walk distance by only ~300m.

  • Access / Directions

    Toodyay Road access: Follow Great Eastern Highway and Bypass to Roe Highway, then north; turn right into Toodyay Road and follow it for 7km up the steep hill to the top of the Darling Scarp (Red Hill). Park down a short track off the right hand side of the road just after it straightens toward the NE (less than 50m past an alternative marked parking area, also on the right). The start point is marked by a secondary entrance gate (and fallen fence) and vehicle track into John Forrest National Park.

    Alternative Taaffe Road access: Turn right off Roe Hwy into Morrison Road (at first traffic lights after crossing Great Eastern Hwy), then after 3km turn left into Pechey Road, then right into Taaffe Rd (part dirt) which is blocked to vehicles by a white barrier gate after 100m (near the private entry to the Swan View Equestrian Lodge on the left). Park in the limited roadside area near the gate or further back down Taaffe Rd or on Pechey Rd. Signage indicates Taaffe Road is intended for “Local Traffic” only.

    Google Map

  • Nearest campsite/s

    N/A.

  • Escape route/s

    In north:  Follow vehicle tracks to Toodyay Road. In west, various tracks allow for an exit to Taaffe Road (near Swan View Equestrian Lodge).

    In south:  Follow Eagle’s View trail and/or vehicle tracks to Jane Brook and the Park’s main carpark.

  • Other Info.

    “John Forrest National Park Management Plan”CALM, 1994. -This also includes summaries of the flora & fauna, geology, history, future park plans, etc.

    “John Forrest National Park: A Place of Beauty” – Article by George Duxbury, in Landscope magazine (CALM), Vol.11, No.4, Winter 1996, pp.16-21.

    “Travellers guide to the Parks & Reserves of Western Australia”,  Simon Nevill, 4th Edn. 2011, pp. 44-45 (Simon Nevill Publications) –  Includes a summary of the Park.

    Other map availability

    South West WA 25K Scale Topo Maps”, Greg Harewood & Landgate,  2015.  – Digital raster; ECW format on 16GB USB. See tile #318-2134-III-NW for relevant map coverage.

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