Kitty's Gorge Trail - Serpentine
Kitty's Gorge Trail is an 8 km trail that follows Gooralong Brook and the Serpentine River. As a there and back trail it will be 16km return, unless you car shuffle and park at either end. We started from Jarrahdale Cemetery, where there is limited parking, but you can also start from the carpark at the Falls in Serpentine National Park (entry fees apply). Walking from Jarrahdale Cemetery has the advantage of following the brook downstream so the trail descends gradually.
The trail is well marked and maintained and suited to most fitness levels if you can do the distance. There are some short uphill sections and some rough and rocky sections on the trail. If the 8km is too much you can start from Serpentine Falls and see how far you get before turning back. Likewise starting from Jarrahdale Cemetery you can start by walking Stacey's Loop, continuing along Kitty's Gorge Trail as far as you can manage before turning back.
Stacey's Loop is a great hike to do with the kids. It has numbered markers at points of interest along the way however you will need to purchase a downloadable pdf map from the Jarrahdale Heritage Society for $2 to discover what the numbers mean. About 10 minutes in (walking anti-clockwise) there is a large fallen hollow log which the kids will delight in climbing through. Further along is a rare twin headed balga. We loved the mossy expanses on the tree trunks and learnt that if you tread on or touch moss it doesn't recover so you need to be really careful walking around mossy areas. We soon came across our first bridge crossing the brook.
After passing through an open area you descend through beautiful shady forest to another bridge crossing the brook at marker 7. This is the point where Stacey's Loop Trail heads off to the left back to the Cemetery. The hike to this point took about an hour so Stacey's Loop Trail will take up to 2 hours to complete.
From here the hike follows the Kitty's Gorge Trail marked by a green boot trail marker. As you pass an old campground area surrounded by pine trees you might spot the old toilet block among the trees but take it on good advice that you should not use this facility under any circumstance! The bush toilet is a much better option! The trail circles off to the right and you can make a small detour to where the old mill once stood. There is little evidence of the building that once stood here but some kids have built a teepee right next to it. From here the trail hits a crossroad. Take the marked trail straight ahead and not the degraded fire trails.
The wider trail meanders through shaded pine forest with verdant green ground covers, bracken ferns and the brook bubbling merrily along beside it. There is a detailed map showing your progress on the trail - so far we have been walking for an hour and a half - there is still a long way to go! We crossed the brook over another bridge before gradually leaving the forest and emerging into an area of granite outcrops, still with water trickling down them after recent rain, and a narrowing trail.
After another 20 minutes walking you come to the old gauging station across the brook. From here the trail gets first rough and rocky and then muddy over the next 15 minutes as you approach the first of the Kitty's Gorge waterfalls.
The trail continues to follow the brook as it cascades down the rocks for the next several kilometres. You will have walked a good 45 minutes to an hour alongside the waterfalls and cascades before you level out where Gooralong Brook joins the bigger Serpentine River as it flows further down the valley towards Serpentine Falls.
As you emerge from the forest alongside the Serpentine River you can see the remnants of an old bridge crossing the river. You can crossover using the new bridge a little further down. Here is another sign showing your progress on the track - three and a half hours on from Jarrahdale! Almost there....only another hour to go. From here the wide track skirts the pastures surrounding heritage listed Spencers Cottage built in 1860. You may start meeting hikers coming up the trail from Serpentine Falls.
As you follow the wider Serpentine River downstream the track passes a water pipeline on your left before crossing a valley and then skirting private property. The trail narrows again as it follows the river emerging at the 'infinity pool' created by a man made wall. This can be a popular swimming spot but always check advice on water quality before swimming here or at Serpentine Falls as the water is untreated and serious water borne diseases may be present.
The narrow trail continues to follow the river for a while before climbing and then widening. You will pass the turnoff to Baldwin's Bluff Trail, a 6km there and back trail which heads steeply uphill but then follows the ridge line offering spectacular views of the Serpentine Falls and Valley and also across the Swan Coastal Plain. As if the 4 and a half hour trek from Jarrahdale Cemetery wasn't enough we headed up this trail too, adding another good hour to our days hiking!
If you head up Kitty's Gorge Trail starting from Serpentine Falls you will follow the river upstream, passing some beautiful scenery on the way to Spencer's Cottage. This section of trail will take about an hour to hike each way. To head on up to the main falls area at Kitty's Gorge will take another hour so it is possible to hike the trail there and back to Kitty's Gorge from Serpentine Falls in 4 hour round trip.
Alternatively coming from Jarrahdale you can also do a round trip hike to the top waterfalls in Kitty's Gorge but it will take around 5 hours return.
If you still have energy after your hike there are lots of things to do in and around Jarrahdale.