Top 5 reasons to hike the Cape to Cape Track
There is a well-kept secret over here in Western Australia – the Cape to Cape Track between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin. I am lucky enough to have it on my doorstep. Here are my top 5 reasons to hike the Cape to Cape Track. Hope to see you here soon!
1. The beauty of the Cape to Cape Trail is hard to beat.
According to Outdoor Magazine, it is one of Australia’s Top 10 Hiking Trails. And it’s easy to understand why — the Cape to Cape Track is ruggedly beautiful! A lot of the coastline is worn away limestone interspersed with orange-brown granite.
The ocean along the track is often azure blue (in spring and summer), and many of the beaches are a pristine white.
In a few sections where you walk through the bush, you will be treated to views of the towering Karri Trees, which are only found in this corner of WA. And if you hike in spring, the wildflowers will stop you in your tracks.
This south west area of WA is one of only 34 biodiversity hot spots in the world and nearly 80% of the plant species are found here and nowhere else on the planet. There are over 8000 species of flower in the greater South West, including about 300 species of orchids.
The best time to view the wildflowers is between August and November, which is also the cooler time to year to hike the track.
2. It can be hiked at almost any time of year.
The climate is often described as West Coast Mediterranean, which means that there are no frosts and the temperatures are moderate year round. In summer we have very little rain and average temperatures are between 15-30°C. Our rainfall generally occurs between April and October, and temperatures range between 8-17°C.
The region is unique in that it is surrounded on three sides by ocean, which helps to moderate the climate within such a narrow range.
In general, the further south you go in the Capes Region (which is the area between Busselton and Augusta), the wetter and cooler the climate becomes. For example, the town of Margaret River receives 50% more rain in June than Busselton at the north end of the Capes.
Winter is dominated by periodic storm fronts that sweep in from the south west, bringing good swells and surf with them. It can be quite stormy and dramatic with heavy rain and wind. This dramatic weather certainly makes for some incredible photography!
However, it is typical to have many days between storm fronts with beautiful sunshine and no wind.
Spring and autumn are the best times to hike because you are likely to have calm days and it’s generally not too hot. In summer it can get hot away from the coast and it’s common to have a strong thermal sea breeze come up in the afternoon that blows from the south-east, south or west. Once this breeze starts, it cools things down beautifully.
I recommend summer and winter for half-day or full-day hikes and spring and autumn for hiking the trail end to end. If you are thinking about autumn or spring, choose to hike in spring if you can because water is more easily available, the wildflowers are in bloom and the whales are migrating along the coastline back to their feeding grounds in Antarctica. It’s a spectacular time to be here.
Roughly speaking the seasons are:
Spring: October – Mid-December. Warm sunny days, cooler evenings. A few showers here and there. Best time for wildflowers (including orchids) and for whale watching. This is the best time to hike the Track.
Summer: Mid-December – end March. Generally no rainfall. Warm/hot days with cooler evenings. The track is generally dry and dusty and water sources cannot be relied upon. A good time for morning or 1/2 day hikes. If walking the entire track, be prepared for hotter days.
Autumn: April – May. It’s getting cooler during the day and rain is more frequent. Water sources cannot be relied upon. This is the second best time to hike the track from end to end.
Winter: June – September. Wettest, coolest time of year, with periodic, dramatic storms that bring torrential rains and strong winds. Winter storms are interspersed with sunny, mild days. This is the best time for dramatic photography.
3. Hike it all in one go, or try a day hike—you choose!
The Cape to Cape Track is about 135 km in length, and a lot of people hike it end-to-end in 6-8 days. This requires a bit of organisation, such as doing some fuel, water and food drops before you begin your hike. The great thing about the track is that there are a number of free-camping sites along with many options for paid accommodation with a comfortable bed and a hot shower (where you may be able to do the drops if you ask in advance).
Keep in mind when planning that you will have to pay for a few nights accommodation along certain parts of the track. More on that in this post.
There are multiple access points for cars, so it’s also very simple to break the track up into a series of day hikes, particularly if you have at least two cars to do shuttles. The bus service is very limited in the region, so it’s best to have a car. Or if you’re hiking end to end, then check out the bus schedule in advance as they don’t run everyday.
You can find all of the contact numbers in the Cape to Cape Track Guide App for bus and taxi services.
4. There is so much flexibility in how you plan your journey.
There is something for everyone, whether you want to pack everything on your back and do it ‘old school’, or have someone bring you your food, pack and tent each night.
Or if a comfortable bed is more your style, then there are many accommodation options ranging from luxury spa retreats to caravan parks to short-stay houses with sweeping coastal views.
Food options include pubs, shops, restaurants, cafes and the standard dehydrated meal done in a tin pot over a camp stove. And because this is the Margaret River Region, there are even several bottle shops along the way to pick up a chilled chardonnay or craft beer.
In this post, I describe a possible 9-day itinerary for the track to give you an idea of how to combine free camping with paid accommodation.
5. The isolation of the Track means that you will likely have campsites to yourself.
The Cape to Cape Track is still one of those hidden gems. It’s 3 hours south of Perth in Western Australia, which in turn is one of the most isolated cities in the world. As such, you won’t be competing for campsites, there’s no permit system and you will truly have an adventure.
Get The Cape to Cape Track App
The Cape to Cape Track Hiking Guide App for smartphones shows you everything you need to know to plan your trip, and to find your way along the track.
Everyone should have the App when hiking the Track. I love it. It’s truly indispensable. -Louise from Nannup
All of the App’s content has been fully researched and verified by one author (me!) and it is updated regularly.
One of the biggest issues on the track is that it is often criss-crossed with 4-wheel-drive tracks and kangaroo trails, so it can be tricky to know which way to go. And since there is no internet or mobile signal along most of the track, websites and Google Maps will not work and you can’t call for help. So it’s important to know where you are.
The Cape to Cape Track Hiking App works without needing internet, so it will never let you down. It shows you all of the maps and content all of the time, and shows you where you are so you can’t get lost. Also, you won’t miss any of the dozens of ‘highlights’ along the track, and you will see just how far it is to camp, or to that bottle of cold water, wine or beer.
No other resource out there works like this and is so useful.
- There is also an overview paper map of the track you can find on the Friends of the Cape to Cape Track website, as well as a fantastic wildflower book by Jane Scott.
- There are a few fantastic guided tour operators in the area. Cape to Cape Explorer Tours and Walk into Luxury are two that I highly recommend.