Granite Skywalk, Castle Rock Photos

Directions: Located about 40 minutes from Albany, follow Chester Pass Road to the north for 36 km until you reach Porongurup Road. Continue for 3km more until you reach the sign for Castle Rock Granite Skywalk. Parking is easy to find, and there is plenty of space.

After completing five days of the Bibbulmun Track and spending a few days in Albany, exploring and relaxing afterward, it was now time to return to Fremantle to resume a normal life. After a great experience at Bald Head and Peak Head in the Sunset the day before, I decided to continue the theme of revisiting older posts on the site and photograph the Castle Rock Granite Skywalk. It was the first hike I took in the South West for the website back in 2015. I didn’t get many good photos, and I only took a few. This is a popular destination for the area, so I decided to return and update the post. I wanted it to reflect the true value of the experience. You can still access the old post here.

The trail was crowded with people, and I feared that the photos would be bad. I almost didn’t go in because the parking lot was overflowing. The weather was so nice that I decided to leave. Thankfully, a kilometer down the road, I told myself it would be a while before I returned. It was because it was a sunny, warm day, the first day of school holidays, the AFL Grand Final Day, which didn’t feature a WA team, and the hike is often marketed by tourism accounts. I always visit the Porongurups around Grand Final Day. I hiked Nancy Peak/Devils Slide in 2017, but it was much quieter then. I found a spot to park and hoped everyone would be heading down by the Granite Skywalk. In my original post, I featured very few photos of the Karri Forest leading up to the hill. It looks as though the hike is relatively easy, and then you reach the highlight galore area of granite boulders. The forest is where you will spend the majority of your time, and I wanted to reflect that by adding a few photos.

The trailhead near the parking lot is a solid 2km of uphill walking. However, the fact that it passes through some of the most beautiful forest types in the state only enhances the experience. Many pea-colored wildflowers were blooming at the time I visited. Even though I was rushing to complete the hike in an hour, I took the time to admire my favorite wildflowers. The forest dominates the early part of the hike, but there are two spots where you can get some views from a granite slab. This first one is early in the walk and frames the granite summits you will be climbing through the forest. You can see the route you will be taking, but you also know how much further you need to hike and how high. After a week of 20-30km hikes, I was in great shape. As I continued, I passed some groups going up the hill. Thankfully, a few were heading down. The forest was beautiful as usual, and I had it mostly to myself. I could photograph empty scenes whenever I wanted and relax to enjoy the experience.

The Karri forest has a lot of shade, which allows mosses and mushrooms to grow in the spring and summer months. The Porongurups granite peaks are a rarity in the region, and the Karri Forest wouldn’t be able to exist without run-off water from the granite. It’s a relationship that is remarkable. The granite boulders with mossy lichens are a hiking paradise. The trail was slick with mud despite the fact that there had been some rain in the last couple of days, and the sun had continued to shine since. The trail was not eroded badly, but you could see where people were stepping off to one side to avoid mud. This only served to widen it to the point that mud avoidance became impossible. This is not an issue as you ascend higher, where stone steps become the only way to go.

You can find the second granite platform not far from the top. If you take this side trip, you will be rewarded with a great view of the Stirling Ranges. I loved seeing the ridges, peaks, and valleys of the Stirling Range. I would have liked to have hiked some of these peaks on my return trip. It was a brief visit to the granite mountain range north of Albany, and I only got a distant glance. While I was moving on, a large group of European tourists and a large family were descending the path. The group was a bit of a bottleneck on one of the stairs, but I was happy to wait because I knew that I had been lucky as they were leaving, and I would not have waited any further. When I arrived at the Balancing Rock – one of the most impressive features of the trail – I took many photos and marveled at the granite boulder, which appears to defy gravity by simply sitting on the rounded granite piece. It’s probably been that way for hundreds of thousands or millions of years, but I wonder when it will finally give in to gravity and start rolling down the hill.

The fun begins a short distance away as you get closer to the granite boulders at the top of Castle Rock, where they have bolted a stainless steel viewing platform. The view is truly breathtaking from this vantage point. With a small queue at the slot to access the ladder and a few people not wanting to make the climb to the Granite Skywalk, I decided to visit the other lookout. The view from this lookout is also nice, but it’s just a small taste of the ideas you can expect higher up. Mount Manypeaks and the endless farmland stretching to the horizon could be seen far away. This sight always makes me feel a bit melancholy, as it reminds me of the amount of land that has been cleared out in WA. After the crowd dispersed, I returned to the area where you climb over the granite in order to reach the ladder. The stainless steel grab handles make it easy for those who are comfortable with scrambling. It will be difficult for shorter people or those who are less flexible, but with the correct technique, you can get through. The family was waiting at the bottom of the ladder, but they were still putting their things together. So I quickly dived in and began the 7m climb up the ladder. Even though I am not a fan of heights, it was easy to climb the ladder with no wind. I soon found myself on what appeared to be an empty platform.

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