Late Autumn, Winter and early Spring is the perfect time to find some waterfalls, cascades and flowing water on trails around Perth and the South West of Western Australia.
For the water-loving hikers, these are OTBT’s top 10 waterfalls and cascade hikes!
Most of these trails are relatively short and some are even great for kids and doggo hiking buddies.
1. Lesmurdie Falls
Lesmurdie Falls located in Mundy Regional Park in the hills east of Perth, is the largest and most impressive of all the waterfalls in Perth!
Start From: Setting off from Falls Rd car park there is a fantastic trail information board which provides a map and list of the trails, with duration and level of difficulty.
Distance: There are 5 walking trails you can explore here to get your dose of waterfalls and cascades varying from 640m to 3kms, with the Valley Loop Trail being the longest (at 3.5/4 kms) and our personal favourite!
Following the pink markers, the trail takes you alongside Lesmurdie Brook as you head downhill on some concrete steps to the first viewing platform over the falls. As you approach the second lookout views of the Swan Coastal Plain and Perth city skyline take your breath away. Take a moment to sit and admire our beautiful city with the sounds of the water gushing below, you wont regret it! After filling your soul, continue your descent by skirting down the edge of the ridge, but don’t forget to look back at those falls!
The trail suddenly becomes very narrow and rocky as you make your way to the bottom of the valley. As you reach the babbling brook, the official trail takes you over the brook to continue on up the other side of the valley, but we think it’s a shame to miss out on exploring the foot of the falls so turn right here and follow the trail alongside the stream until you reach the base of Lesmurdie Falls. This is a very special place during Winter and Spring with the Karri Hazel in bloom providing a beautiful fresh scent combined with the sound of the water cascading around you as you rock hop and explore the impressive black and orange rocks of the falls.
2. Whistlepipe Gully
Located in Mundy Regional Park in the Perth Hills, the Whistlepipe Gully Trail will leave you feeling like you’ve just discovered an enchanted forest!
The scenery on this hike is very pretty with the banks of the gully lined with lush green foliage, paper-bark trees and a variety of wildflowers. Whilst enjoying the sound of the water cascading downstream you will come across a granite outcrop and the ruins of an old house built right on the edge of the gully. These ruins are quite intriguing and definitely make this short family friendly & dog friendly trail very unique!
Distance: Whistlepipe Gully is a stunning 3.5km Perth hiking trail.
Start From: The trail commences at the end of Lewis Rd in Forrestfield. There is only a small car park here and in Winter and Spring the trail is very popular so unless you’re early, expect to be parking a couple of hundred metres down the street.
As you follow the trail along side the creek you’ll soon reach a giant granite outcrop with water cascading down it on your left, this is a great place to stop and explore as you can get quite close to the water’s edge here and it is very picturesque. After crossing the gully on the bridge you continue down the left hand side of the stream to the ruins.
These old concrete foundations are from the mysterious Wallace Greenham House that once stood here. Wallace Greenham was the outstanding and innovative architect that built this fascinating house in 1963. The house was built in a Japanese inspired style of architecture called Organic Architecture which means to promote harmony between habitation and the natural world. Wallace incorporated the granite boulders in its structure had connecting walkways across the stream.
You can view a virtual hike of Whistlepipe Gully and see some old pictures of the ruins here!
Descriptions of the house included trees growing up through the floor, sloped roofing with raw timber beams, suspended walkways with the central feature being the rushing water of the stream. It sounded like a mysterious place of beauty and magic surrounded by this magical little valley and the gorgeous Whistlepipe Gully.
3. Kitty’s Gorge
Kitty’s Gorge is one of my favourite hikes and really does have it all!
Distance: This 16Km return hike follows the Gooralong Brook and Serpentine River so you can expect to see plenty of waterfalls, granite outcrops (great for some rock hopping), lush jarrah forests, an old pine plantation, an abandoned farm cottage plus so much more.
The trail can be steep and tricky at times, combine this with its length makes it a good challenge and will take you around 4-5hrs to complete.
Start From: You can access this hike from Serpentine Falls carpark or opposite the cemetary in Jarrahdale. The variety of scenery found in Kittys Gorge makes this one of my favourite hikes Off The Beaten Track!
4. Beedalup Falls, Pemberton
The major attraction in the park is the Beedelup Falls, which are best viewed in winter and spring when they are in full flow with winter rains. Tumbling 100m over granite rocks, the falls give the area its cool, damp character. A boardwalk has been built around the falls, incorporating a suspension bridge at their base offering passage across Beedelup Brook and an upstream bridge where water rushes centimetres below your feet. There is also wheelchair access to a viewing platform overlooking the falls.
Start From: To get to Beedelup Falls, drive 17 kilometres west of Pemberton along the Vasse Highway, then follow the signs. Access to Beedelup Falls is via a 300 metre walk trail from the Beedelup Falls Car Park which is 20 minutes from Pemberton. The trail takes you across a 25 metre suspension bridge that spans Beedelup Brook. Please note National Park fees apply.
You can see a great view of the falls from the bridge or from timber boardwalks and platforms. In winter when the falls are thundering you may be able to feel the spray. As you walk upstream to another bridge, look for the masses of maidenhair fern and mosses which creep at the base of the trees. On a fine day, catch the sun filtering through the karri tree tops or hear the frogs calling from their hidden homes.
When you arrive at the picnic site, where the walk loop starts, listen for the birds and the muted roar of the falls. Then, as you descend the steps through a corridor of trees and creepers, pause to listen to the forest, and look out over Waterfall Dam, the huge lake into which the falls empty.
Distance: The 4.5 km moderately hard Beedelup Loop Walk meanders through karri forest via Karri Valley Resort and the Walk-Through-Tree. This walk can be broken up into shorter sections.
5. National Park Falls and Hovea Falls
The Christmas Tree Creek Walk trail & Eagle View Trails in John Forrest National Park provides panoramic views of the Perth city skyline, multiple creek crossings, spectacular waterfalls and an abundance of wildflowers.
Start From: After departing from the Rangers Station the trail takes you alongside Jane Brook, underneath the Railway and down to the National Park Falls via a wildflower lined trail which is truly superb. Please note National Park fees apply if you commence your hike at the Rangers Station!
The National Park Falls are a treasure in themselves and a great spot to stop and take in the natural beauty of your surroundings. After making your way up to the Eagle View Lookout follow the trail into some colourful heathlands until we reach the very special Christmas Tree Creek. From here those tackling the Christmas Tree Creek Trail will head up the monster hill that will leave you with a sense of achievement as you finish your hike with a gentle hike through the mixed jarrah forest. Eagle View Hikers will head up into the forest for an impressive 15km hike!
John Forrest National Park has long been favoured as a site for a day-trip from Perth, with its beautiful flora, wildlife, walking trails and of course water falls!
The park is home to two waterfalls that flow in winter and spring – Hovea and National Park Falls. Hovea’s falls cascade down a large granite sheet while National Park Falls drops sharply over 20m of sheer rock face.
To view Hovea Falls follow the signs to the falls towards the end of your Christmas Tree Creek or Eagle View Hike and get two waterfalls for the price of one!
6. Quinninup Falls, Wilyabrup
Quinninup Falls is a beautiful winter waterfall that can be found just off the Cape to Cape Track, not far from Moses Rock.
Distance: The hike to the falls is a short but sweet 2.2km (5.5kms return) trail and can be a little challenging! Allow 2 hrs plus a little more if you want to go check out Quinninup beach or sit and enjoy the tranquil sounds of the falls for a while.
Start From: To get to the falls, park at the Moses Road carpark. On your left, you will see toilets and a viewing platform and to the right is the path to the falls (along the Cape to Cape track).
The path varies from flat and easy to rocky and uneven, there is also a killer sand dunes that are a breeze coming down, but quite a calf burner climbing up (stay on the trail close to the fence line). The views along the trail are breathtaking and well worth the effort. Along the track there is a well positioned seat where you can sit and enjoy the waves crashing against the shore and surfers enjoying the ocean. As you near the falls, you will walk through a red dirt plain before the land dips and weaves and Quinninup Falls appears.
7. Bells Rapids
If you’re looking for a short loop trail that gets the blood pumping whilst offering spectacular scenery – Bells Rapids is the one for you!
Distance: Bells Rapids is a great beginner trail at 4.5km and is both family friendly and dog friendly! This hike provides spectacular scenery with views over the Darling Scarp, Swan Coastal Plain and into Walyunga National Park. In Winter the lush green grassy riverbanks and rocky rapids are a superb spot to stop for a picnic to take it all in.
Start From: This loop trail commences at the end of Cathedral Ave and is made by linking the 1.5Km Riverwalk Trail & 3Km Goat Trail. The official start point is just after you cross the bridge over the Swan River which is the perfect place to stop and admire the fierce waters churning during the Winter months. From here you can turn left for the gentle Riverwalk Trail or head right to tackle the steep but rewarding Goat Trail (which we highly recommend).
The Goat Trail isn’t well marked in places so you’ll have to trust your instincts a little. As you hit the fence line, turn left and go uphill. This is your first climb for the day, and although it is’t a long climb the gradient will sure get the blood pumping! Luckily there are great views over the valley and across to the trail line that are worth stopping for (to catch your breath). At the top of the hill, turn left and follow the fence line as the trail briefly descends before leading you in to another great climb.
There are many fantastic vantage points along this section of the trail to stop and admire the superb valley views. Majestic boulders and granite outcrops are another great feature of this hike including the famous ‘Buttock Boulder’! The descent can be a little tricky and slippery in areas so make use of the ruts on either side of the trail to give you extra grip. At the bottom of the hill the Goat Walk trail links back with the River Walk trail and taking a left will lead you past the rapids and alongside the Swan River back to the bridge.
Bells Rapid, is situated at the edge of the Darling Range near Brigadoon, and is best known as a viewing spot during the Avon Descent. In late winter when the river is roaring the white water is a very popular attraction. In the drier months the rapids almost disappear, leaving behind an intricate path of glimmering rock, drift wood and calm pools.
The very scenic Bells Rapids Walk Trail offers views of countryside, coastal plains, and babbling rapids so is hard to compare to anything else in Perth. Whilst there is loads of parking available, it is a very popular spot on weekends during Winter and early Spring so be sure to visit early or midweek if you enjoy your hikes a little quieter.
8. Fernhook Falls – Walpole
Fernhook Falls is a series of cascades in a remote patch of native forest in Walpole wilderness! The Deep River tumbles over rocks through a number of lush pools, providing a scenic spot for adventurers to explore. The best time to visit Fernhook is Winter – late Spring as the water gushes over the granite boulders, or if you go in summer, the water flow trickles into Rowell’s Pool to create a tranquil paradise.
The froth and bubbles seen at Fernhook Falls in Winter are created as a result of saponin in the water. The saponin comes from the breakdown of plants in the water. This residue is churned up on the granite rocks and ends up floating serenely on the surface of Rowell’s Pool. There are many little walk trails to be found surrounding Fernhook Falls which offer some great views of the forest and waterfall with boardwalks provided to protect the vegetation.
Fernhook Falls also features a DBCA Campground with a small number of sites and even a couple of little huts you can stay in! The Munda Biddi passes nearby which makes this a great spot for riders to stop and recharge for a night before hitting the trails again the next day!
Start From: Beardmore Rd, North Walpole
9. 60 Foot Falls – Ellis Brook Valley
Distance: This 2.1Km loop trail is perfect for the beginner hiker or young family looking for an outdoor adventure. The trail is short but steep to the top of Sixty Foot Falls, on a clear day you will be blessed with views of the Perth city skyline in the distance.
Start From: Ellis Brook Valley Reserve in Banyowla Regional Park. At the end of Rushton Road, Martin.
A short walk through the bushland will lead you to the Old Barrington Quarry, huge granite cliffs surround a manmade lake and despite a bit of graffiti it is quite picturesque! Along with being kid friendly this trail is also dog friendly which makes it a real winner in my eyes! I can’t believe I never knew this place existed until now. I highly recommend this gorgeous trail Off The Beaten Track!
10. Rocky Pools
The Rocky Pool Walk has plenty of ups and downs, and steep ones at that! The rocky descents can be a little tricky so please take it easy (especially with little ones). Just over half way, the well-marked trail will lead you Off The Beaten Track for a few hundred metres down a narrow bush track to a gorgeous little stream. The tranquillity of the environment here is really superb!
Not far up the trail is Rocky Pools, a natural watering hole with a small waterfall and cascades, which is a great place to explore and cool off (which the kids will love)!
The final leg follows a section of the Bibbulmun track through Piesse Brook, the narrow windy trail ascends alongside a flowing stream, a lovely way to end your Rocky Pools experience. The best time to visit is in late Winter and early Spring and after heavy rains so you can witness the falls in their full force!
Start From: This trail commences at the end of Spring Rd, Kalamunda and is a haven of wildflowers and granite boulders!
Distance: 5kms/ allow 2 hrs.