The Ultimate Guide To Hiking The Stirling Ranges

Are you under the impression that Western Australia is completely flat? And if not completely flat, the only mountains are made of sand? 

Don’t worry, we were just as naive.

Driving deeper into Western Australia’s south coast region was a pleasing eye opener. Lush green and red forests sit contrastingly beside wide open plains.

And smack bang in the middle of a plain, sticking out like a sore thumb, is the Stirling Range National Park. A collection of mountains and hills stretching 65km from east to west. The highest mountain within the Stirling Ranges is Bluff Knoll, rising to a whopping 1,095m seemingly out of nowhere. 

Of course, we had to explore and explore we did. 

Unfortunately, the Stirling Range was hit hard by the 2019/2020 fires that raged across Australia. This resulted in a devastatingly beautiful contrast, yet limited walks accessible. 

Never fear, my research skills are up to scratch and all the information is provided below for the peaks we did and didn’t bag.

Update: All walks are back open in the Stirling Range National Park after a huge rehabilitation project.

The forest re-growing in the Stirling Range National Park

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The Best Hikes In The Stirling Ranges

The Stirling Range National Park is the only major mountain range in the southern half of Western Australia and produces a rich history. A rift slowly opened as Australia broke away from Antarctica, and as the two continents pivoted marginally, sediment was forced up to form the range.

The local aboriginal people called the range Koi Kyenunu-ruff, meaning ‘mist rolling around the mountains’, due to the common occurrence of strange and fascinating cloud formations surrounding the peaks. 

The Stirling Ranges are a photographer’s dream. 

Looking completely out of place in the barren inland of Western Australia, the range is a haven for wildflowers and encompasses lush and sheltered gullies below stark jagged peaks.

Being a national park, an entry fee is required to visit the Stirling Ranges. $15 per car will gain you access for a day or a 4-week pass is $60. For more information on prices, visit the parks website.

Within the range, there are seven hikes and one multi-day hike to choose from…

Mt Talyuberlup 

3km return | 427m elevation gain | summit 894m | 2.5hrs | Grade 3 – Some Experience Recommended

Standing on top of Mt Talyuberlup in the Stirling Range National Park

A 20-minute drive after turning left off Chester Pass, along a corrugated red dirt road known as Stirling Range Dr, delivers you to Mt Talyuberlup’s trailhead. A rutted and rocky trail hidden beneath overgrown shrubby trees marks the beginning of the hike. 

The gradient gradually increases as you work your way higher to the peak, the trees begin to fade and the stark rock faces require a little crawling action to scramble higher. Looking back, the mountains pinch and fold as they flank the red dirt road that winds like a sunburnt snake through the valley. 

Climbing up the steep track of Mt Talyuberlup in the Stirling Range National Park

Almost at the summit, the last obstacle is a cave. Well, more of a chute with parts of a roof in my opinion. Warning signs will try to persuade you to take the track skirting around the cave, however, what is life if you’re not just a little adventurous? 

Scramble on through the cave and waiting for you at the end is the inside world of the Stirling Ranges. The horizon is littered with unique peaks peeking through the forever-changing clouds. 

Talyuberlup’s summit is an adults playground with many sections of sandstone sticking out in all directions, practically pleading for you to explore. 

There is a little debate as to how high this peak is and the distance of the hike. The brochure states the height to be 783m and the entire walk 2.6km return. Though our trusty Garmin watches clocked 3.5km and a max elevation of 894m.

How Long Does It Take To Climb Mt Talyuberlup?

Expect to be walking for approximately 2 to 3 hours. The steep and uneven terrain may cause some to walk slower than usual. And the peak is worth a lengthy break to explore. 

Bluff Knoll

6.3km return | 637m elevation gain | summit 1095m | 2-4hrs | Grade 2 – Suitable For Most Ages

But if the weather isn’t so friendly, don’t let it stand in your way. Have a look at what beauty mother nature can produce, courtesy of Cam Bostock.

Bluff Knoll is named Pualaar Miial by the aboriginal locals, meaning ‘great many faced hill’, as the rocks on the bluff were shaped like faces. The summit sits 1095m above sea level, making it the highest peak in the Stirling Ranges. 

This also makes it the most popular of the Stirling Range hikes. If you’re after solitude and peace, this summit is best to be conquered for sunrise. 

Being the most popular hike, the trail is well maintained with stairs and friendly markers informing you of how long is left along the way.

The walk is accessed from the southern end of the Bluff Knoll car park and picnic area. Beginning in a descent to a creek before crossing the mountainside to a saddle. It’s all uphill from there, with a steep rocky section leading to a small waterfall located just after the 1km marker. 

The forest surrounding the lower slopes is a eucalypt woodland with an abundance of banksias and grass trees. Once out of the tree cover, the wind howls and swirls around as you make the ascent up the exposed slabs of rock.

Looking into the valley of the Stirling Range National Park

Bluff Knoll is practically a 3km stair climb to an elusive peak that’s most often shrouded in a moody mist and bone-chilling wind. If you’re lucky enough to score a clear day, the 360-degree views will take your breath away – or what little you have left after the climb.

Don’t forget your jacket for this one, Bluff Knoll is the only place in Western Australia to very occasionally experience snow. The peak has a mind of its own when it comes to the weather.

How Long Does It Take To Climb Bluff Knoll?

The entire Bluff Knoll hike should take approximately 2 to 4 hours. The large variation in the time of completion is due to the steep nature that may cause some to go quite slowly. 

Mt Toolbrunup

4km return | 534m elevation gain | summit 1,052m | 3 – 4hrs | Grade 3 – Some Experience Recommended

Looking out at Mt Toolbrunup in the Stirling Range National Park

Mt Toolbrunup is the second highest peak in the Stirling Range National Park, rising 1,052m above sea level. Being the slightly smaller brother of Bluff Knoll has its perks. The crowds that flock to Bluff Knoll and the easier nature of the well-groomed trail are not found at Mt Toolbrunup. 

Expect to find an exciting hike with large sections of scree, boulder fields, and steep ascents with no stairs to help.

Access to the trailhead is found at the end of Toolbrunup Rd, a 5-minute drive after turning off Chester Pass.

The track to the peak of Mt Toolbrunup begins sheltered by woodlands, gently inclining as it follows alongside a creek. Once the woodlands fade, the incline increases drastically with boulders and scree to keep your mind from the burn in your legs. 

After reaching a saddle close to the top of the southwest buttress, it’s only a short, all hands on deck, scramble to reach the summit. The relatively flat expanse of jumbled rock provides the perfect platform to experience the stunning views of the Stirling Ranges surrounding the peak.

While this hike is well-marked for the most part, there are a couple of sections that need extra attention. The path could become confusing through the scree and boulders, adding to this already difficult section.

How Long Does It Take To Climb Mt Toolbrunup?

Expect the walk to take approximately 3 to 4 hours. Be sure of your fitness and hiking skills before attacking Mt Toolbrunup. 

Mt Hassell

3.7km return | 430m elevation gain | summit 847m- 2-3hrs | Grade 2 – Suitable For Most Ages

Looking out at the view atop Mt Hassell in the Stirling Range National Park

Mt Hassell is somewhat a little friendlier than Mt Toolbrunup and Mt Talyuberlup, but don’t let that cause complacency. As is the nature of most of the Stirling Ranges Walks, some rock scrambling towards the peak breaks up the steady climb to Mt Hassell’s summit at 847m.

Once turning off Chester Pass onto Stirling Range Dr, the carpark will appear on your left after a couple of minutes. 

A traverse with a few switchbacks thrown in the mix makes up the first half of the climb to the peak of Mt Hassell. 

At the halfway mark, the track makes a sharp right turn up the spine of the mountain and the steep scramble begins. Some sneaky false summits will cause a little groaning as you climb closer to the peak. Which you’ll know you’ve reached as only a mad man would attempt to go further.

The best views of Mt Toolbrunup are found atop Mt Hassell. We recommend tackling the hike for sunset if you’re equipped with the skill and provisions for hiking down in the dark. The setting sun casting long shadows on the red and green of the forest is something that will stay in your mind forever.

Mt Hassell was unfortunate to be caught amidst the raging fires, leaving the majority burnt. This provided a stark landscape for our trek and soot-stained anything that touched the torched trees. 

How Long Does It Take To Climb Mt Hassell?

The return hike to Mt Hassell took us 3 hours to complete. You can expect to take up to 4 if scrambling isn’t your forte.

Mt Magog

7km return | 506m elevation gain | summit 856m – 3 – 4hrs | Grade 3 – Some Experience Recommended

Climbing up a rock section in the Stirling Range National Park

Mt Magog is the longest day hike in the Stirling Range National Park, with a heightened wilderness feel due to its lower popularity ranking… which may have to do with the flat 2km walk to the base of the mountain. 

A picnic area, 25km west on the corrugated Stirling Range Dr, signals the beginning of the Mt Magog trail. Tall wandoo woodland gives way to flat lowlands. Unobstructed views of Mt Magog and Mt Talyuberlup in the distance keep the stoke levels from dropping as the first 2km of the track are overcome.

Once the base of the mountain is reached, the climbing begins through tunnels of thick vegetation. Some boldly state that Mt Magog is the steepest and most difficult of the day hikes in the Stirling Range National Park. As we weren’t lucky enough to attempt the climb, we cannot comment on such a statement.

A wild campsite is found once the saddle between Mt Talyuberlup and Mt Magog is reached, sparking thoughts of longer hikes in the western ranges a possibility…?

Please enlighten us if you know the answer!

The remainder of the walk follows the saddle further west and includes some welcomed rock shelf scrambling. From the summit at 847m, the first sights of the elusive western range can be seen with no mountains standing higher to obstruct the views. 

How Long Does It Take To Climb Mt Magog?

While Mt Magog may not be as popular as the shorter day hikes, the path is still easy to follow with wooden pegs and tape to lead the way. The different perspective this view throws on Mt Talyuberlup is worth the 3 to 4 hours it will take to bag this peak. 

Mt Trio

3.5km return | 359m elevation gain | summit 856m | 2-3hrs | Grade 2 – Suitable For Most Ages

Looking out at Mt Trio from Mt Hassell in the Stirling Range National Park

Mt Trio is made up of three peaks linked by a plateau – who would’ve guessed… Even with three high points, Mt Trio is the easiest walk within the Stirling Ranges with stairs and boardwalks paving parts of the way to the peaks. 

The trailhead of Mt Trio is located a short way along Formby Rd South off Chester Pass. You’re welcomed with an initial steep climb up man-made stairs to get the heart pumping. Though an abundance of wildflowers and the unique bouldered valley keep the eyes occupied as the legs struggle. 

After the initial climb to the saddle between the east and north peaks, the remaining two-thirds of the walk follows the substantially flatter plateau to the northern peak, the highest of the three, standing at 856m above sea level. 

The sweeping valleys and looming sandstone summits of Mt Hassell and Mt Toolbrunup can be enjoyed to the south of Mt Trio’s peaks. 

How Long Does It Take To Climb Mt Trio?

Mt Trio will take you anywhere from 2 to 3 hours to complete depending on how often photos and extra exploration calls.

Stirling Ranges Ridge Walk 

23-26km one way | 2-3 days | Grade 5 – Very Experienced Only

Are you sitting there thinking that these trails sound like a piece of cake? Well, eat that cake and get ready for the monster of all trails found in the Stirling Range National Park. 

The Stirling Range Ridge walk traverse’s approximately 23 – 26km one way – depending on the route you choose – from the base of Bluff Knoll to Ellen Peak and the northeast boundary of the national park. 

Lack of markers or a distinct trail makes the Stirling Range ridge walk navigationally tough on top of the physical struggle of summiting nine peaks in two to three days.

Driving along the dirt road in the Stirling Range National Park

Some passes between the mountain peaks drop around 600 to 800m, offering insanely beautiful views of the rugged forest on the east side of the Stirling Range National Park. This walk is a must for any avid adventurers with the experience and navigation skills needed for the Stirling Range Ridge walk.

Take a look at Atlas Introspective’s 3-day itinerary of the hike to gain all the knowledge we sadly cannot provide… one day we WILL be back to conquer this range.

Suggested Gear

The Stirling Range National Park seems to consist of its own weather patterns, proving a day forecasted with complete sunshine could suddenly become rain and thick fog among the peaks. Grab a small bag and pack it with a couple of extra jumpers just to be sure.

This is the list of gear we took with us for a day hike and highly recommend:

Essential Hiking Packing List

  • Topographic Map and Compass – It’s best to avoid relying solely on your phone, which can run out of battery. 
  • Digital Map – In addition to a paper map, you can use AllTrails to download the route and follow along with the inbuilt GPS.
  • First Aid Kit – You can visit this post if you’re unsure what should go into a first aid kit for hiking.
  • Emergency Beacon – Our emergency beacon lives in our hiking packs permanently.
  • Reusable Water Bottles Avoid taking plastic water bottles that can break easily and add to the overwhelming amount of plastic pollution. We also suggest bringing a water filtration system to treat river water.
  • Head Torch Don’t forget the spare batteries! Look for a headtorch with a minimum of 100 lumens. 
  • Sturdy Hiking Shoes We recommend hiking boots over trail runners for longer hikes, where the trail is unstable and can become very muddy. 
  • Long pants or gaiters Tasmania has a thriving population of leeches.
  • Down Jacket and Thermals Staying warm while hiking is extremely important and these items play a key role, the mountains are unpredictable, best be prepared.
  • Rain Jacket and Rain Pants Rain pants are optional but can provide an extra layer of warmth in miserable conditions. 
  • Sun Protection – The UV rays are stronger at higher altitudes.
  • Sleeping Gear – Make sure to pack a tent, a warm sleeping bag and an inflatable mat for overnight hikes. The mountains can get very cold at night, even in summer.
  • Cooking Stove Nothing beats a warm, satisfying meal after a big day of hiking.
  • Emergency Snacks – You can never have too much food and who doesn’t love snacks!
  • Camera Gear – We never travel anywhere without our camera, tripod or drone!

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Best Time To Visit The Stirling Ranges

Being the only mountain range in the southern half of Western Australia, the Stirling Ranges tends to alter weather patterns around itself. The range sees significantly more rain than the rest of the south west, mostly during the winter months though still commonly in the summer months. 

Summer temperatures average around 30 degrees, although due to the stark landscape these temperatures can feel a whole lot higher. 

Our recommendation for the best time to visit the Stirling Range National Park is spring or autumn, when the tourists and rain are slightly less of an issue.

Getting To The Stirling Ranges

The Stirling Range National Park is 400km south-east of Perth and 77km north of Albany. 

From Albany, follow Chester Pass Rd north for just under an hour. 

I have referred the map to the Moingup Springs campground because it is central to all the Stirling Ranges Hikes.

Where to Stay Near Stirling Range National Park

The Stirling Ranges surprised us with plenty of accomodation options, ranging from free rest stops to camping to bed and breakfasts and retreats. 

Moingup Springs is our pick of the bunch. A quiet bush camp in the heart of the park, costing $15 each and situated among the Jarrah and Marri Trees. 

Take a peek at this post for a list of epic places to camp within the southern region of Western Australia.

Where to Eat Near The Stirling Ranges

Surprisingly again, the Stirling Range has you covered for places to eat with cafes and even wineries dotting the rural roads.

Other Things To Do Near Stirling Range National Park

After hiking for hours amid the Stirling Ranges, the best reward I can think of is a visit to some delicious wineries just south of the range. 

If that adrenaline hasn’t been satiated, rock climbing is a popular activity on Bluff Knoll, Mt Trio and Mt Talyuberlup. Although you need to be well experienced as the only climbs are trad. If you don’t know what that means, maybe give the rock climbing a miss and take a drive south to the Granite Skywalk at Castle Rock in the Porongurup National Park.

Driving through the burnt trees in the Stirling Range National Park

We hope to visit the Stirling Range National Park soon to finish what we started. We would love to hear from you in the comments below about your experiences in the Stirling Ranges, and of course if you have any questions please ask away. Whatever we don’t know, we will do our best to find out for you!

Happy hiking.

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Stirling Range National Park pinterest pin
Stirling Range National Park pinterest pin

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