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Hiking in the Stirling Ranges

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

The Stirling Ranges in Australia's South West are quite possibly the most under appreciated natural asset in the state.

Rising out of the endless rural plains surrounding the range, the mountains and hills command more prominence than their height would otherwise suggest.

What's intriguing to us, is the fact that only a small percentage of the Perth population (much less the rest of the country and world) has visited the Stirling's, usually foregoing the inland experience to visit the much more renowned coastal towns and attractions throughout the south west region.

With a range of hiking options, unique plants found nowhere else in the world, WA's only alpine climate and a number of quality wineries and other attractions within close proximity; by the end of this guide to the Stirling Ranges, we're sure you may at least consider a slight detour when planning your next trip down South.


Distance from Perth: 390km

Highest Peak: Bluff Knoll (1,096m)

Age of Range: Up to 2,100 Million Years

Plant Species: 1,500 (87 Unique)

Climate: Creates it's own weather patterns.

First Recorded Ascent: Toolbrunup, 24 January 1832 by European explorer Robert Dale.

The Stirling ranges are part of a national park of he same name, covering an area of 1,159 km².

It is the only spot in WA to regularly receive snowfall, though very light.

At least 2 groups of indigenous Australians used the Ranges as hunting grounds, thousands of years before European arrival. The Qaaniyan people in the west, and the Koreng people in the east.

Getting There

You're likely to be making the journey from Perth, though flights to Albany are also an option. Driving from Perth, it's roughly a 4.5 hour drive via the most direct route.

Taking Albany Highway practically the whole way, you'll see a large sign just after the tiny town of Cranbrook, telling you to turn left into the Stirling Ranges.

Alternatively, you can continue further south to the larger town of Mount Barker and then head back north-east to get to the national park. This is also the way to go if you're planning to make a trip to the Porongorups.

There are very, very few shops and service stations in the area, so Mount Barker is the best option if you need any supplies. Once you're in the park itself, the only place you'll be able to buy anything is at the Bluff Knoll Cafe (the food is recommended!)

Zuberant Stories

First-hand experiences

Cody Hudson (Zuberant Life)

3 Day Stirling Ridge Walk

"Yep, I’m calling it. Having finished the Cape to Cape earlier this year, as well as large swathes of the Bibbulmun, I can say this one tops it. No other hike in Western Australia offers the experience as provided along the Stirling Ridge walk. It had been on the list for a while but to be honest, low expectations had put me off. I’d been up Bluff Knoll and a few other peaks in the area and while providing a pleasant outing, weren’t really worth the long drive from Perth. I’m happy to eat my words on this one."

Hiking Options

The hiking options around the Stirling Ranges and the Porongorups are vast. There are options for a multitude of different experience levels and for a variety of conditions. We'll categorise them by Day Walks, Peaks and Multi-Day Trips. At the end, we'll recommend options based on your fitness and experience level.

Day Walks

Devils Slide

The Devils Slide can either be done as a standalone venture, or as part of a circuit with Nancey's Peak. If opting for the former, expect 4.7km of moderate gradient action that should should take an hour and a half. The latter is around 6.3km and may take an additonial hour, depending on how long you spend taking in the sights.

Castle Rock

The tourist hotspot of the Porongurups, Castle Rock and the granite skywalk is a well-designed walkway that takes in the full view of the range.

This walk really has it all.. ladders, rock scrambling, forest, metal walkways.. it's certainly the most popular hike in the area for a reason.

At 4.4km and with some pretty steep gradients, you'll want to be in reasonable shape for this one, with no conditions that would prevent you from getting up relatively steep rock.

The Peaks

Bluff Knoll (1098m)

Stirling Range Difficulty Rating: 3/5

The highest peak in the Stirling Ranges and undoubtedly the most popular. From the carpark, a paved path runs through to a well maintained trail leading right to the summit. The summit, on a cloud free day (which can be hard to find), presents unencumbered 360 degree views of the surrounding range and vast plains beyond. It's a spectacular sight at sunrise or sunset


It's a 6km round trip from carpark to summit and generally takes 2-4 hours, depending on your level of fitness and how many stops you take along the way.

The terrain is generally mild, with a clear trail making up the majority of the climb. There are aspects that traverse rock however, and appropriate footwear is recommended. We'll lay out a gear list for you later in the article.

Suitable for most people of average fitness.

Mt Toolbrunup (1,052m)

Stirling Range Difficulty Rating: 4/5

The second highest peak in the range, though almost certainly the hardest climb. Unlinke Bluff Knoll, Toolburnup doesn't have a curated path to the top, with hikers relying on small signs to point them in the right direction.

Starting in relatively thick forest, the trail passes through a scree field, then a boulder-field, requiring hikers to boulder hop their way across. Towards the summit, a scramble is required to get over some fairly steep sections.

The climb is well rewarded, with a spectacular view from the top, particularly back down into the valley you've just hiked through. Be prepared for a rather windy encounter at the summit though...

Though you certainly don't need to be a world class athlete to tackle this one, it may be a challenge if you have knee or ankle problems or any issues with rock scrambling.

Mt Trio (856m)

Stirling Range Difficulty Rating: 2.5/5

One of the shorter peaks in the park, Mt Trio is a great introductory hike to get the legs warmed up for one of the bigger challenges. Don't be fooled though, it can certainly give you a case of the jelly legs if you're not particularly accustomed to hiking uphill.

Beginning with a relatively steep trail straight out of the carpark until levelling off, with a casual stroll to the summit once on the plateau. The hike is 3.5km return and will take you anywhere from just over an hour, to 3 hours, depending on your level of fitness.

Mt Magog (856m)

Stirling Range Difficulty Rating: 3/5

The longest hike in the Stirling Ranges and perhaps the least often climbed peak. Mt Magog is a 7km return journey that begins with a casual, flat hike until reaching the base of the climb. The mountain is set back from the main road more than the other peaks and as such, has somewhat of a more 'wilderness' feel to it.

From the beginning of the ascent, the climb can get pretty steep, requiring some legit scrambling and some scree travel.

The views from the summit are unique to the rest of the peaks in the range, due to the more Western location of Magog. You'll be well and truly rewarded for the tough climb.

Mt Hassell (847m)

Stirling Range Difficulty Rating: 2.5/5

Short but sweet. Mount Hassell is a 3km round trip, starting moderately and working up to a rocky scramble at the top.

Along with Mt Trio, this is a great introduction to the Striling Range.

Talyuberlup Walk Trail (784m)

Stirling Range Difficulty Rating: 3.5

The shortest, though perhaps the steepest day hike in the whole range. A 2.6km round trip sees the hiker encounter an array of incredible wildflowers, caves, rocky outcrops and some of the best views in the ranges.

Be warned though, this is a pretty tough hike and will certainly be a test for those with dodgy knees. The scrambles near the summit are a lot of fun and offer a bit of a thrill for those who tackle Talyuberlup Peak.

Image courtesy of reddit

Multi-Day Hikes

Stirling Ridge Walk

Stirling Range Difficulty Rating: 5/5

The cream of the Stirling Ranges and perhaps the pinnacle of hiking in Western Australia.

The Stirling Ridge walk is a 24km journey that traverses the entire ridgeline from Ellens Peak to Bluff Knoll. It is generally done in 2 or 3 days and offers a wilderness experience not found in any of the other hikes throughout the Stirling Range.

Firstly, it offers the only Alpine Hiking conditions in WA. Meaning it can see occassional snow at points throughout the year, the winds can be legitimately strong and the only flora is low-lying shrub.

The hike itself offers the unique opportunity to sleep in caves, with 2 options large enough to accommodate a small party of hikers. Non-technical rock climbing is also part of the route, lowering your packs via a piece of rope over rocky outcrops. You will almost certainly become slightly lost, particularly if you have not done the route before. There is no marked trail, with rock cairns the only markers that ensure you're on the right path.

It is a phenomenal experience and a great step up once comfortable climbing peaks such as Toolbrunup.

Trip Itinerary Recommendations

There are a multitude of itineraries that are possible down in this region. It will depend entirely on your fitness, experience and the amount of time you have available.