More and more people are discovering one of the region’s best kept secrets: its potential for trail running. With coastal and inland routes, beautiful national parkland and forests, I’m personally expecting it to take me my lifetime to discover them all.
The great thing about running in this region is that it’s so easy; you’re always just a stone’s throw away from some scenic trails. Here are three ways to get started:
- Get in touch with a local running club, such as Margaret River Trail Runners, who have a great reputation for being fun, friendly and welcoming to visitors.
- Take part in the annual Margaret River Running Festival (Sunday 18 October this year), which is quite rightly nicknamed ‘one of the world’s most scenic Sunday runs’.
- Simply grab a good map and head to your nearest trail. Maps are available from local visitor centres or via mapmyrun.com – below are five of our favourites!
Dunsborough to Meelup Beach
Starting point: Dunsborough
One-way length: 3.11km
The beautiful Meelup Track follows the coastline from Dunsborough to Meelup Beach. It’s mostly a gravel trail with brief sections over the beach and through a woodland. There are plenty of reasons to take this one slowly – you can stop to admire the beautiful Curtis Bay and Castle Rock, and during spring you’re likely to see wildflowers and whales.
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse to Sugarloaf Rock
Start point: Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse
One-way length: 3.9km
Difficulty: Moderately easy
This track starts and ends with two of the northern end of the region’s icons: the working Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, and the towering, sea-sculptured Sugarloaf Rock. This is an easily accessible, reasonably short run which is paved or on boardwalks all the way. There are stunning views, particularly from the lookout and as you approach Sugarloaf Rock. We particularly recommend doing this run at sunset!
Rails to Trails (Wadandi Track)
Start point: Cowaramup
One-way length: 16.41km
Difficulty: Moderately easy
The Rails to Trails is a delightful, well graded, wide dual-use trail that runs from the town of Cowaramup (north of Margaret River) through to Witchcliffe (south of Margaret River). There are various access points for the trail, and runners can try out a short section or run the whole trail. Much of the trail is shaded with a broad canopy of trees overhead, and scenery ranges from tall forest to vineyards, open farmland and bushland.
Start point: North or south side of Boodjidup Valley
One-way length: 10.31km (including 183 steps)
Hidden in the Boodjidup Valley, part of the Cape to Cape Track reveals a grueling set of stairs. Known by locals as ‘the crazy steps’, these 183 stairs take runners down into the Boodjidup Valley, across the Boodjidup Brook, and up the other side of the valley. The steps will be one of many challenges facing participants in the new 15 kilometre Trail Run section of the Margaret River Running Festival, taking place on Sunday 18 October 2015.
Augusta Ocean & River Trail
Start point: Augusta Town Jetty
One-way length: 4.5km
Start at the Town Jetty which is located at the bottom of Ellis Street in Augusta – from there it’s just over a kilometre of easy boardwalk/pathway, following the banks of the Hardy Inlet before you reach Turner Street Jetty (where the inlet enters the Southern Ocean). Along the way you might see dolphins or seabirds playing in the river, and you will definitely see some spectacular views. You can return the way you came for a just over a 2km run or you can continue on the path and join up with the ocean trail which takes you along the coast of Flinders Bay for another 2.5km to Flinders Bay, the location of the Old Flinders Settlement where Augusta was first settled back in 1830.
Have you discovered any brilliant running trails in the region? Feel free to post suggestions or links below!