Location: Bluff Knoll, Stirling Range National Park
Distance: 6km return
Duration: 3 - 5 hours
Trail Marker: Summit/carpark distance markers only
Cost: National Park Entry Fees Apply
Elevation: 1099m climb
Date climbed: 19th July 2018
Updated climb: Easter Saturday 2019 - Read about our snow adventure down the bottom.
Kml Trail File: Please click here.
Bluff Knoll has been on my list for a very long time and in July I found myself with a very brief window of opportunity to go, convinced hubby to take a day off, booked overnight accommodation at Stirling Range Retreat and packed our hiking gear. The plan - to set off the very next day as soon as Dave got home from work. It meant a very late departure from Perth and we arrived at our cosy little cabin at 9pm, very happy that the heater had already been turned on so we were able to get a good nights rest.
Alarm goes off at 5am and we are on the trail by 5.45am ready to begin the 3km hike 1095m up to the summit hoping to catch the sun rising. Now, because it was pitch black we were not able to take any photos's for most of the way up but have taken pics on the way down of entry points etc as seen below.
Take note that a national park pass entry fee is required to enter. The ticket booth is off the main road as soon as you enter so keep a look out for that as it is quite easily missed. If you visit national parks regularly though I'd recommend getting an annual pass.
The Bluff Knoll walk starts at a large trailhead interpretive shelter and the path from there is very easy to follow, even in the dark, although I will say that I could see a few places where people make go off track if they were new to following trails but we found it very straight forward, or should I say....straight up.
We were the first to arrive so parked the car and began the climb. It was a really beautiful time to begin the hike up, the path lighted by our torches and the cool air on our faces, but it wasn't long before the first layer of beanies and jackets come off.
A slow ascent up the steep stairs and rocky outcrops nearing close to the edge and before long first light broke providing the most beautiful views of the mountains to the south west as well as giving us our first real glimpse of the bloody steep hill we were about to climb. Turning around we could see the sunrise had pierced through the moody clouds providing some inspiration to climb to the top.
So onwards and upwards we go till we reached the devastation of the recent fires that wiped out such a significant area of this magical place. However whilst tragic we could already see new signs of life, the hope that we will one day see the beauty as it was before.
The .6km to summit marker appeared, offering comfort to our tired legs but I tell you that 600m went forever, Its a long way up.
We finally reached the summit in 2 1/2 hours and it was as breathtaking as I had hoped it would be, even with the fire destruction and moody skies, there is something pretty magical about standing up there overlooking the ranges below, and we were the first and only ones up for the day. Took a few moments just to take it all in giving myself a pat on the back not only for climbing to the summit without dying but also for celebrating a personal challenge.
We signed the summit diary and took the obligatory summit pics and selfies. The sun continued to attempt to shine through but never quite enough and there was a cold chill in the air with a few light winds, meaning no summit Bushtucker Tea experience for us.
In fact, the temperature dropped quite dramatically and we could not get our jackets and beanies on quick enough, our hands and fingers actually froze so much they burnt with pain, didn't even think about gloves. So we quickly scurried across the summit with our hands in our pocket down to a protected section where we started to thaw out again and could once again enjoy and take in the views.
Because we came up mostly in the dark we missed so much so it was nice to take in the scenery on the way down.
About half way down we came across the first lot of people heading up, about half a dozen groups after that, all looking at us with envy as they wished they were already doing the downhill. Yep, its not called a challenging hike for the hell of it.
Finally got to the bottom and turned behind to admire Bluff Knoll in all it's glory.....what an amazing mountain. Such satisfaction knowing we had just climbed it and surprisingly feeling pretty good. It took us longer to descend probably because we had more to see on the way down and the fact that we stopped to chat to quite a few people making their way up. I also find going down harder on the knees and was thankful I had brought my poles to take a bit of pressure off them.
It is now one of Sophie's favourite mountains as she has begged as many times since to go back to climb again especially when it snowed. Lucky for her we are moving to the Porongurups so Bluff Knoll will become her local and I dare say snow will be on the cards in 2019.
We absolutely loved this mountain adventure, definitely one we will do again, and if Sophie has it her way it will be done monthly at least. Hopefully this post inspires you to get along and check it out, we would love to hear your thoughts on the trail. Please feel free to tag us in your adventures.
We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we walk, the traditional lands of the Whadjuk people & wish to acknowledge them as traditional owners paying respects to their Elders, past & present, and Elders from other communities who may be here today.
It's snowing on Bluff Knoll!!
A couple of days before Easter, the word was put out all over social media that there would be a chance of snow on Bluff Knoll and for once the weather gurus got it right. Snow did fall on the summit of the highest mountain in the Stirling Range. Yes you read that right, it is the earliest snow recorded in a year, in over 50 years.
We were one of the lucky ones who got to see it, be it as minimal as it was....that's besides the point. We have missed it the last few years, much to Sophie's devastation and it was promised that when we moved to the South West, we would see snow on Bluff Knoll....I just didn't expect it to be in April haha
There was one small problem though, there was also a sever weather warning, with strong winds and hail forecast which put a damper on our plans and we spent Good Friday rugged up in front of a cozy fire instead. It's too risky to be hiking in those conditions, a little sad because there was in fact snow falling, a few crazy people did make it up there at 2pm in the afternoon. The conditions looked better for Easter Saturday and snow was forecast to fall at 2am so plans were back in action and we had ourselves some Snow fun.
We arrived at an almost full carpark at 5am and began the long journey to the summit. It was quite a beautiful sight actually as you could see torches shining the whole way up the trail, unfortunately my dark photos are exactly that dark. It was equally as nice to have the full moon still out so it helped light the way a little.
We got to about 700m above sea level before we started seeing people come down, surprised but knew there would be some early eager beavers who would have been up there for sunrise, any if you could, why wouldn't you. I almost dare not to ask if there was snow. The thought of climbing all that way to then find out there wasn't would have been a bit of a blow but the question just came out of my mouth haha Thankfully the answer was a positive one. We were not far from the first signs of snow.
Whilst for many the amount of snow would not have been worth the effort, but for Sophie who had never seen snow before it was an amazing first experience on her favourite mountain in WA.
Compared to photos from earlier in the morning, the snow had melted quite a bit but it was nice to see the tips of the peaks on the summit covered with the amount they were.
and there was enough to make a little snowman...and have snowball fights
As we left the summit and made our way back down we realised that the snow had almost disappeared. Felt sorry for the numerous families that were heading up hoping to get a chance to witnessing the snow, and like us earlier each one asked the question 'Is there still snow' with a great deal of hesitation in their voices. Our response was hopeful for them.
Check out the pics below to see what I mean.
Pic on the left is on the way up. Pick on the right is on the way down. This would have been taken maybe 30mins a part if that.
Th weather could not have been more perfect for us. Sure it was blowing it's butt out as we crossed the saddle to the summit, and it was cold up there but the sun was shining, skies were blue and the views were nothing short of beautiful.
and here we have one very happy young woman
oh Bluff, you have delivered once again....Thank you;)
Tips for climbing Bluff Knoll in the snow!!
1.Do not leave your jumper, beaning or gloves half way up the walk....Yes it gets hot hiking up such a big mountain.....but it's freezing on top and I guarantee you will regret it.
2.Gloves are essential....don't underestimate how cold it can get. We took our gloves off to build a snowman and almost got frostbite in the tips of our fingers...silly I know
3.Please take a good amount of water...even if it's cold. Your body will sweat on the way up, you need to replenish the lost liquids or risk dehydration.
4.Please take your rubbish back to the carpark with you. That includes food scraps. Orange peel etc takes FOREVER to break down and looks unsightly on the trail.
5.Enjoy the experience, take your time and I believe almost anyone can make it to the top.