Helena Pipehead Trail
It was a chilly 2 degree morning when we hiked this trail but after breakfast at nearby Aunty Cath's Cafe it had warmed up a little. It's only a few minutes drive from the cafe along the very narrow and windy Helena Valley Road to the trailhead. We carpooled from the cafe as I had heard that parking was limited. The road literally runs out opposite a private residence and there is room for about 8 cars here - hopefully they have parked to allow a turning circle so you don't have to do a 500 point turn to turn around if it is full! There is a bay further along deep enough to double park if there is a group of you but once that is full it is roadside parking on this very narrow road.
Once you pass through the gate across the fire trail (please remember to leave this accessible when parking!) there is a wide road heading east along the valley. You are now in Beelu National Park. We walked clockwise so followed the Helena River upstream. Keep left as you pass where the trail loops back and follow the dirt trail crossing a small metal bridge over a watercourse. Apparently you can veer left down a narrow trail here to access the creek and a gauging station but we were too busy admiring the wattle!
The Shire of Kalamunda trail map locates the metal bridge as one of the trail markers on it's trail notes (there are no trail markers along this trail! The trail undulates up some reasonably steep but short inclines as it passes through woodland with the beautiful forested valley on your left.
The trail becomes quite rocky - if you have walked other Shire of Kalamunda trails you will recognise the roughness of the trail. After a few more undulations you crest a hill and there she is the Helena Pipehead Dam! It is only small but an amazing shade of blue. Unfortunately the first sighting of the dam is blemished by the massive pumphouse in the foreground but you soon pass that and have views of the dam for a considerable distance.
There is a large sideways growing tree at one point just begging to be climbed for a photo opportunity but do take care! A few metres beyond this you can divert to access the shore of the dam for a closer look.
From here the trail climbs quite steeply for about 800m as you walk up the side of the valley. Although quite steep and rough you have amazing views across the Helena Valley and you can even see distant trails running through Nyaania Conservation Park on the Darlington side of the river.
After the steep climb the trail descends to a junction. The trail notes advise you to take the right fork at the Shire Sign. Turning right was easy enough but we had to go looking for the Shire sign. We found it but from the trail junction it was completely obscured by the trees in the foreground. The Shire could really put some money into trail markers in my opinion! We had considered diverting to Rocky Pool but were not aware that this junction was the place to turn left rather than right.
The track here is very rough, badly eroded and steep. We were glad of our walking poles for extra support as we climbed up to the ridge. This trail could be quite slippery when wet. As we crested the ridge where a track converges from the left we saw the old car body. I was now able to get my bearings from walking the Schipp Road Walk as we had passed this same car. I also realised that we had missed the turn to descend to Rocky Pool as we should have turned at the junction further down. No-one was keen to retrace our steps down that rocky slope so we continued along the trail going straight ahead and descending back into the Helena Valley.
The rough dirt track eventually gives way to a rough road as the trail descends for about a kilometre through a number of changing landscapes.
The trail converges onto the original trail just before the car park.
The trail, which is 5.2kms long, took us 2 hours but we did stop frequently for photos and to check out the plants and flowers. For a shorter hike you could easily hike the lower section of the trail as far as the first views of the pipehead dam - about 1.5km one way, or even for another km beyond that to where you can access the water, before returning the same way. Next time I do this trail I will divert to Rocky Pool as it is such a beautiful spot and is probably only an additional 600m each way down a steep rocky hill....and back up again!
I really enjoyed this trail as it has spectacular views over Helena Pipehead Dam and passes through beautiful woodland. We saw early promise of wildflowers but there were only a few flowers out in late June.
There are no picnic or toilet facilities along this trail and it is a relatively busy trail. The nearby Boya Community Centre (check opening hours) has toilet facilities and as a bonus you can enjoy the lovely artworks. As mentioned parking is difficult so if possible car pool and be prepared to walk a little further on the way in.
In the spirit of reconciliation Out and About- Family Nature Connection acknowledges the traditional owners of the Wadjak boodjar (Perth land) and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.