Hiking on Summer days in Perth comes with stifling heat, bushfires, more snakes and a whole lot more flies!
Pretty good reasons not to hit the trails right?! Especially the bushfires and snakes part!
But with Summer comes longer days for you to experience your favourite trails during twilight hours! There is something magical and very rewarding about waking up early to catch a sunrise from your favourite granite outcrop! Or watching the sky transform from daylight to dusk to darkness.
Here’s everything you need to know about keeping cool, as well as essential safety, during Perth’s Summer hiking season.
Cool Down Your Summer Hikes
You would think Summer would curtail your hiking activities but it actually opens you up to new adventures and opportunities.
Here’s what we mean…
Head out during the coolest times of the day
Start your hike early
Getting out well before the heat of the day, at first light, is not only cooler but it’s also one of the most peaceful times of the day to hike.
The day is so new you only have the roos and birds for company and you feel totally connected to nature!
Afternoon golden hours
If you’re not much of an early bird, head out in the afternoon just as the temperature drops around 4pm.
With sunset being so late in the day, you’ll have about 3 hours of full sunlight and then you’ll get to experience a beautiful sunset and the golden light of a waning day.
Ever thought about hiking at night?
We get it – night hiking isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea!
But imagine being out on your favourite trail with a full moon high in the sky! Magical!
Night hiking also gives you a chance to slow down and even familiar trails become new because the environment changes totally in the dark.
If hiking at night is something you’ve always wanted to try, but not on your own, then jump in on one of our group tours. We’ll make sure you have all the right gear and keep you safe.
Why not Combine Hiking With Water?
Streams, rivers, lakes and waterfalls
When you hike next to water like a stream or river, the temperature is often a degree or two cooler.
These are great trails for the kids as well, allowing them to explore the banks and paddle in the shallows.
Great for the big kids too! You’re never too old to enjoy the simple things like getting your feet wet!
Other trails lead to lakes or waterfalls where you can enjoy a cooling dip in the water in the midst of nature, before heading back.
Make a day of it, bring your bathers and a picnic.
Combine your hike with a water activity
We host a number of combo hikes that include things like kayaking, water bikes and stand up paddling. Time on the trail is shorter giving you plenty of opportunity to enjoy the cooler activities on the water.
Get Down South
If you’re looking to get away from the heat of Perth, why not head down south where summer days are a lot milder?
The famous Cape to Cape track ranges along the coastline for 132 kilometres. The seven day walk will take you past amazing sea and landscapes.
But of course you don’t need to do the entire walk. Shorter hikes along the track are easy to get to and they also take you past some of the best highlights!
If wildlife spotting is one of your favourite hiking activities then Dunsborough is perfect for you. Much cooler during summer and you’re likely to spot dolphins, seals, kangaroos, seabirds as you hike the coastline.
Best Perth Trails in Summer
If you’re looking for somewhere closer to home then we recommend these next three spots.
The best place for swimming and the best trail for kids. And while summer dries out many trails the last one is still one of the prettiest during the hotter months.
Baldwins Bluff & Serpentine Falls is beautiful first thing in the morning before the crowds, with only kangaroos for company.
The Serpentine Falls waterfall runs gently down into a natural rock pool waterhole popular for swimming during the warmer months.
* Be careful swimming in any open waterway as it is an uncontrolled environment. Check for notices about the water cleanliness. Never dive in; the water’s not clear and can hide dangerous underwater rocks or fallen tree debris.
Whistlepipe Gully has water all year round as the gully is fed from a pipeline although it is much drier in Summer.
There are two bridges that allow you to cross over and return down the other side of the gully, making the trail shorter – perfect for kids.
If you follow the trail right to the end you’ll enter what feels like a rain forest with a deep gorge complete with ancient fallen trees covered in moss and vines. It really is spectacular!
For the scenery
Sullivan Rock – Mt Vincent is a short but pretty 5 kilometre return hike. The energy and beauty of the granite on Sullivan Rock and Mount Vincent is beautiful. The bushland is recovering from the bushfires in 2020 so its nice to see all the green shoots as nature begins to regenerate.
OTBT Top Tips For Hiking in Summer
We all know Aussie summers can be a bit extreme, so being prepared and careful is not overkill – it’s essential.
These are the team’s top tips for safe hiking in summer.
Check the weather to find out when the temperature is going to reach an unbearable high. This will help you decide what time of the day to head out.
Avoid high risk areas when the fire danger is high. You can check the alerts for any bushfires or prescribed burns here and adjust your trail plans if necessary.
Don’t overestimate your abilities. Summer is not the time of year to tackle your biggest challenge to date. If you’re feeling a little under the weather, the heat is going to make you feel worse.
Make sure somebody knows your plans. Let them know when you’re leaving, where you’re going (and don’t deviate) and when you expect to return. Check in with your “someone” to let them know that you’re home safe.
Be contactable. Your phone should be fully charged before you leave and if you believe you’ll be out of tower range for most of your hike, consider taking a Personal Locator Beacon with you.
Remember the basics – hat, sunscreen, and loose cool clothing to cover arms and legs.
Drink plenty of water and consider adding electrolytes. Dehydration and loss of body salts due to sweat can cause heat exhaustion. Make sure you’re consuming about 250mls every time you need a drink. Hydration bladders don’t take up much room in your backpack and make it easy to carry at least a couple of litres of water.
Add high energy snacks to your kit. Foods like trail mix, dried fruit and beef jerky are high in calories and will keep your energy levels up.
First aid kits are always a good idea but every Aussie hiker should also have some snake bite first aid training and carry a snake bite kit, no matter what time of the year.
Summer First Aid
The two biggest safety concerns hikers have in summer are the heat and the increase in snake activity.
Knowing what to do could save a life…
Overexposure to heat
Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt contained in sweat.
Normally the elderly and those with chronic conditions are the most at risk but so are hikers “exercising” in a hot environment.
If heat exhaustion is not treated, it can turn into heat stroke (which is much worse).
First aid for heat exhaustion
- rest in a cool place
- cool yourself down by removing excess clothing, hgentaving a cool bath or shower, and placing cool packs under the armpits, groin or neck
- rehydrate by drinking cool water or oral rehydration drink
Seek urgent medical attention or call an ambulance if necessary if symptoms worsen or if there is no improvement.
Heat stroke occurs when the body temperature rises above 40.5 degrees Celsius. Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency. Immediate first aid is very important to lower body temperature as quickly as possible.
First aid for heat stroke
- call Triple Zero 000 and ask for an ambulance
- if they are unconscious:
- lay them on their side (recovery position) and check they can breathe properly
- perform CPR if needed
- if they are conscious:
- move them to a cool area and keep them still
- give them small sips of fluid
- bring their temperature down using any method available (sponge with cool water, soak clothes with cool water, place cool packs)
Do not give a person with heat stroke aspirin or paracetamol as they do not help and may be harmful.
Watching where you’re walking, wearing long loose pants and/or gaiters, and not “poking the beast” are easy things you can do to avoid getting a snake bite.
However while snake bites are more of a fear than a reality, they should always be treated as life-threatening
In the event of a bite DO NOT try to capture or kill the snake.
Here’s what you should do:
Lay the victim down, to rest and keep them calm.
- Apply a broad pressure bandage (crepe preferred) over the bite site as soon as possible, without removing clothing if this means moving the limb.
- DO NOT cut or wash a bite. Venom on bandages can be used to identify the snake, which is required to ensure the correct anti-venom is used (although not really necessary these days).
- DO NOT apply an arterial tourniquet.
- Immobilize the limb with a makeshift splint.
- Ensure the patient does not move.
- If in mobile phone range, call Triple Zero 000 or use the First Responder App to request outside help to transport the patient. Give your GPS or map location, and time of the bite and when the bandage was applied. If there is no phone contact, dispatch other member/s of the party with knowledge of your location to bring outside help. Activate a PLB if you have one.
- Stay with the patient and constantly observe them for shock and possible respiratory failure.
Check out our favourite Outback Survival guru Bob Cooper talking about Snake Bite Treatment.
Having a snake bite first aid kit as part of your summer hiking gear is a cheap investment in your safety and also provides you with everything you need for essential first response.
Often knowledge and awareness helps reduce fear when it comes to our snakes. Feeling like a snake is going to jump out of the long grass on a narrow trail is not cool (and also highly unlikely)!
Why not jump in on one of our Snakes & Lakes Tours? You’ll discover that snakes are probably more afraid of you than you are of them!
We hope this helps you get the most out of your hikes this summer!
What are your favourite tips for hiking in summer?