The Schipp Road Walk is a lovely but more challenging 4km hike in the City of Kalamunda. The name is a bit of a misnomer as the trail turns off Schipp Road to complete a loop, part of which follows the Bibbulmun Track. Download your preferred trail information and map for the Schipp Road Walk from the City of Kalamunda website.
To get to the trail head turn off Hummerston Road and follow the gravel Schipp Road, a generally well maintained but narrow road, a few hundred metres passing several smaller overflow car parks before arriving at the main carpark where the Kalamunda National Park sign is. As this trail takes you through a National Park dogs are not permitted.
The first attempt we made at hiking this trail in Spring 2019 we were with a larger group and unfortunately missed the turnoffs for the Schipp Road Walk so ended up walking the Piesse Brook Interpretive Trail which follows Schipp Road to Rocky Pool. We actually continued further along Schipp Road on that occasion thinking, logically, that the Schipp Road Walk would follow Schipp Road. It was only after returning back along Schipp Road that we discovered the turnoff we had missed because the post was turned around and the trail markers were only visible from the other side! Now new trail markers are in place that are very clear. In spite of not hiking the intended trail this was an enjoyable walk and now finally we have returned to hike the correct trail.
So with maps in hand and a bit of local knowledge gained from the previous hike we set off.
From the Piesse Brook Interpretive Trail map we could see that there are three trails turning west from Schipp Road. The first to Jorgensen Park, the second to Kalamunda and the third to Spring Rd. Our Shire of Kalamunda map showed the first turnoff to be just under 500m from the carpark trail head and the Piesse Brook Interpretive Trail map indicated this turnoff located after the 5th interpretive sign (Look and Listen). Although the Shire of Kalamunda map recommends walking in an anti clockwise direction we decided we wanted to go clockwise, leaving the known factor of Schipp Road for the end of the hike.
Using the interpretive signs as a guide we passed the first side trail to Jorgensen Park and then came to the second trail at sign #5. Oh my! This is a very rough steeply inclined trail. I think it was a good decision to go clockwise so we have fresh legs for this climb! Off we set thankful we had brought hiking poles - climbing, climbing and still climbing! The first ten minutes is a very steady and steep climb so this trail is not for the faint hearted but once we crested the hill below a large granite outcrop and turned to look back down the valley it was all worth while! Beautiful!
The map does show contours so if you bothered to look closely you can see how steep this climb is (we didn't!) The trail levelled off a little and we had views along the valley towards the Helena Valley. The trail continues on, passing a few intersecting trails so it is a good idea to have a map to give you general directions.
The trail winds more gently down and then up again through the beautiful forests until you come to a junction where you meet the Bibbulmun Track: left heads up the hill to Jorgensen Park (an alternate route if you don't like the look of that rough track!) and right heads down the valley. The Bibbulmun Track is always well signposted and has trail markers at every intersection as well as every 1km.
We could see a wide "road" ahead in the valley and thought that was where we were heading but just before you get there the Bibbulmun Track veers off to the right and the narrow path follows the brook all the way down the valley until you emerge back on Schipp Road near the echidna information sign. Walking in early July there had not been enough rain for the brook to be flowing but it would be quite magical walking alongside as it spills down the rocky outcrops after rain. This section of the Bibbulmun is also part of the 5km Rocky Pool Walk Trail from Spring Road. The track is typical Bibbulmun - well maintained, clearly marked and beautifully scenic.
The track emerges onto Schipp Road (this is the turnoff we missed on our initial visit due to the trail markers facing the wrong way!) and the return journey follows the wide Schipp Road for 1.5km back to the car park. We however turned left and wandered the short distance (300m) to have a look at Rocky Pool (green trail on map below) which was flowing but only lightly. It is well worth this detour. Rocky Pool is a lovely natural swimming hole and can be accessed on various trails (Rocky Pool Walk, Schipp Road Walk, Piesse Brook Interpretative Trail). We spent a little time exploring and taking photos of the water cascading over the rocks. This is a lovely spot to sit and take in the beautiful bush surrounding you. Kids will love scrambling over the rocks and dipping their toes in the water but be aware the rocks may be slippery after rain.
On our previous hike we had continued to follow Schipp Road north after visiting Rocky Pool, trying to understand our map. We came to a trail intersection underneath the big powerlines and consulted with some other hikers who were walking the Rocky Pool Walk and were equally unsure of where they were supposed to be going (Kalamunda trails are not well known for clear trail markers so a map is recommended). On that occasion we decided to walk on in a northerly direction eventually cresting a big hill marked by a wrecked car at the intersection with another trail. We had some discussion and consulted our maps and our phone GPS and realised we didn't have any idea where we were. As we had already been walking a good hour we felt we had come too far. It was only now we realised we were actually on Schipp Road! We continued on down the hill but soon turned around and retraced our steps.
On completing the Helena Pipehead Trail in 2021 we realised that the Pipehead Trail intersects Schipp Road just below the car wreck. If we had continued along Schipp Road we would have arrived at the Helena Pipehead trailhead! If you are fit and have the time there is no reason why you could not combine the trails and follow Schipp Road into the Helena Valley, returning via the Pipehead Trail.
Back to the Schipp Road Walk - after detouring to visit Rocky Pool we walked back along Schipp Road. There is a small loop section of the Bibbulmun Track on the eastern side of Schipp Road (blue trail on map below). The loop starts north of the bridge crossing closest to Rocky Pools and emerges opposite where we came out on to Schipp Road south of the second bridge. The top section is clearly the main track as it winds up the hill past granite outcrops to the crest, where you can look down into the next valley. There is a sign post where the second part of the loop heads back down hill (don't miss it as you might end up in Albany!) This track is quite overgrown, rough and has not been maintained so this section wasn't particularly enjoyable. I can see why they have placed logs across the trail entrance to discourage entry. Having said that if you enter the lower trail there is a lovely creek crossing and an old bridge you can explore a few metres off Schipp Road which is worth the side trip!
When you are walking on Schipp Road the trail is nice and wide but being dirt it can be rough if degraded after rain. Returning from Rocky Pool to the car park you will cross over Piesse Brook and then climb quite steeply out of the valley - but for every uphill there is also a downhill. You can always stop to read the many interpretive signs along the way to catch your breath.
After a kilometre the trail flattens out and winds it's way back to the carpark. The flatter sections can be quite muddy and have puddles after rain. Whether you choose to walk clockwise or anti-clockwise this trail is stunning! We took just under 2 hours for this hike but stopped for lots of photos, spent some time exploring Rocky Pool and added on the extra 1km of the Bibbulmun sidetrail. Next time we will hike the Rocky Pool Walk Trail.
We walked the Schipp Road Trail in mid winter and there were very few flowers out compared to when we walked in August 2019 when the wattle was in full bloom and purple, yellow and white flowers provided pops of colour along the way. There were also a few orchids poking their heads up. We did find some old fungi around the car park even though it has been quite dry. More rain will bring these beauties out in their full glory!
Toilets and cafes are located just up the road in Kalamunda or head for a picnic at Jorgensen Park, which has a much easier and very pretty walk trail and is only a few minutes drive away. Extend your day by exploring Kalamunda's Fairy Door Trail and Stirk Park.
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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 emerging and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.
As always when hiking in the bush please help to reduce the spread of Phytophthora Dieback by sticking to the tracks and paths, staying out of quarantined areas and, if possible, clean your shoes before and after hiking.