Must-do walking trails in Cape Range National Park with epic views
Cover photo: Charles Knife Canyon, Cape Range National Park. Photo credit: Tse Yin Chang
As much as we know you love spending time in the water, there are plenty of adventures if you prefer to keep your feet on terra firma. No trip to Exmouth is complete without spending a bit of time exploring the natural wonders of Cape Range National Park. Whether you’re here for a few days, a week or longer.
Covering more than 50,000 hectares, you will find Cape Range National Park on the west side of Exmouth. In our, albeit biased opinion, it’s one of Australia’s most underrated National Parks. And at just a 45-minute drive to get there from Ningaloo Caravan and Holiday Park, there’s no excuse not to visit.
Cape Range National Park is fringed by some of the most beautiful beaches and crystal-clear blue waters the entire state of Western Australia has to offer. With breath-taking canyons, gorges, and ranges, the panoramic views within the park itself are epic. The National Park enjoys several walking trails, some easy, some more difficult. All of which offer bushwalkers an opportunity to take in the magnificent scenery of Cape Range National Park firsthand.
Read on to discover the best walking trails in Cape Range National Park.
Mandu Mandu Gorge Trail
The 3km return walking trail at Mandu Mandu Gorge is a class 4 trail. You will need to have at least a moderate fitness level to complete it. But taking in the incredible views of the Ningaloo Reef should be all the encouragement you need. Start at the end of the Mandu Mandu track and follow the northern ridge of the gorge into the creek bed. From there, head back to the car park by following the base of the gorge. Keep an eye out for birds of prey and black-flanked rock wallabies as you follow the trail marker posts.
Shothole Canyon is on the eastern side of Cape Range National Park, off Minilya-Exmouth Road. It’s one of the most rugged areas, and you will need to have a 4WD vehicle to access it. You’ll find the short 100m return class 4 walk 12 km into the canyon. From the picnic area, the walking trail begins, which will take you to a lookout, that offers stunning canyon views and views of the Exmouth Gulf. Walkers should take extra care when traversing the slippery gravel surface and steep and narrow steps.
Yardie Nature Trail and Yardie Gorge Trail
A trail of two parts, the first part of which is suitable for all fitness levels. It’s one of the most accessible walking trails in the park. The Yardie Nature Trail is a class 1 trail of just 1.2km return and takes around 40 minutes. Overlooking picturesque Yardie Creek, paths are well defined and easy to walk. The Yardie Gorge Trail starts at the end of the Yardie Nature Trail. It’s a 1.5km return walk and will take around 1 hour. But due to the rough terrain, walkers will need to have at least a moderate level of fitness to undertake this class 4 trail. You’ll be walking high above Yardie Creek and enjoy spectacular views over the gorge and Ningaloo Reef. Look closely, and you may spot black-footed rock wallabies sheltering on cliff face ledges.
Badjirrajirra Loop Trail at Charles Knife Canyon
If you’re up for an adventure, the Badjirrajirra Walking Trail is one of the most spectacular trails in the park. The Thomas Carter Lookout at Charles Knife Canyon is the starting point for this walking trail of moderate difficulty. At 6km, and with a class 4 rating, it will take approximately 3 hours from start to finish. Be prepared for a few uneven surfaces and climbs as you make your way across the top of the range.
Top tips for exploring Cape Range National Park on foot
Entry fees apply to access national parks, and Cape Range National Park is no different. It costs $15 for a day pass per vehicle.
Check with Parks and Wildlife Service, Exmouth District (Phone: 08 9947 8000) for the most up-to-date weather conditions before you head out to explore Cape Range National Park. Roads in the national park can be affected by the weather.
Many walking trails in national parks follow the Australian Walking Track Grading System. The different classifications can help you determine which walking trails are most suitable. Always consider your fitness levels and bushwalking experience when choosing where to walk.
Lookout points are scattered throughout the park to give you the best views of the arid landscape. Check out the mind-blowing vistas at the lookout on Charles Knife Gorge Road and Shothole Lookout.
From November to March, temperatures can often exceed 45°C. During these months, sun exposure and heat are two significant factors. So, avoid the summer months and bushwalk between April and September. Go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to get the best walking conditions.
It’s always advisable to not attempt bushwalking on your own. And don’t forget to tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to be back. Take a personal location beacon (PLB) for extra safety on remote or lesser-used trails.
Bushwalking requires wearing sturdy footwear, a hat and loose protective clothing. And take plenty of water with you – at least 4L per person.
Need more information? Visit the Milyering Discovery Centre on Yardie Creek Road.
For anyone holidaying in Exmouth, we highly recommend making time to explore some of Cape Range National Park. Depending on how much time you’re spending in our beautiful back yard, take a look at all the fun and fabulous things to see and do in Exmouth and Ningaloo. You’ll be spoilt for choice!