Location: Mount Cooke, Monadnocks National Park
Distance: 9.5km loop
Grade: 3 - Variable terrain with some steep inclines
Trail Marker: Only partially marked with Yellow triangle with black Wagyl (snake)
Duration: 4 - 5 hours
Toilet Facilities: Yes, at Mt Cooke Bibbulmun Track Hut
Dog Friendly: No
Date climbed: 18th February 2018
Mount Cooke is the highest granite monadnock in the Darling Range situated within the Monadnocks National Park. The 9.5km walk trail includes 3 kms along the main ridge and summit of Mount Cooke which sits at 582m above sea level, and about 200m above the surrounding plateau. From the carpark we made our way north east along a vehicle track and up the narrowing gully through the forest then over a sloping granite outcrop before again continuing up quite steeply through the forest and shrubland to the elusive, not so elusive, Mount Cooke Cave. You've just got to know what your looking for.
The trail now follows the Bibbulmun Track across the ridge of Mount Cooke to the Mount Cooke campsite providing more stunning views, this time east across the Darling Range and north up to Mount Dale on the horizon. We then follow the ridge for another 1km where we reach the actual summit rock cairn marker near the northern end. We were in awe of the large Balga Trees along the ridge which are absolutely beautiful, must be at least thousands of years old. It really is a special section to walk, taking in the views all around, just breathtaking. The track then starts to descend down into the Valley towards Mount Cooke campsite with the trail becoming a little more like the pea gravel we all know so well on the Perth trails. Wasn't long before we came to the bridge, crossed over a large stream course and headed in to the campsite.
The campsite was actually destroyed from the Mount Cooke wildfire in January 2003. The water tank was the only remnant that survived. The fire burnt through more than 18,000 hectares of forest through the Monadnocks. The fire was caused by a lightening strike and with high winds and a heavy build up of dry debris the fire burnt fiercely up the slopes, along the ridge of Mount Cooke and then south for another 25km. The campsite has since been rebuilt providing track lovers with great accommodation for their multiday hiking experience. Continuing along the old sandy vehicle track which heads west north west from the campsite to Cooke Road where you turn left and continue on back to the start.