Guide to Trail Running - Credit Elements Margaret River

Trail running is trending in popularity across the globe, and the Margaret River Region seems to be leading the pack.

The calibre of runners in the Margaret River Region is world class. Underpinning the activity is the principle of community, of commitment, and appreciating natural landscapes. Katie Lovis – a dedicated local runner, knows the trails and tracks intimately. In December 2021, she broke the record for fastest supported runner on the Cape to Cape Track, completing the 123km run from Cape Leeuwin to Cape Naturaliste in just 17 hours.

But the ultra-athlete says you needn’t go far to appreciate the region’s running tracks. She says the Margaret River Region has astounding accessibility to diverse trails – from coastal heaths, bush tracks, and farmland. Lovis truly believes that it’s not about the medals or the personal bests, the reward is the journey itself – powered by your own two feet!

Here’s a guide to some of the best tracks and trails for runners.

Meelup Running Trail - Credit Tourism WA
Meelup Trails expose the most rewarding of views for runners. Photo credit: Tourism WA.

Where to Start

Forest

There are abundant forest tracks to access around the region, and if there is rain forecast or you’re feeling the heat, the shaded marri and karri trees provide protection. A good place to start is the Darch Trail loop from Rotary Park, at the beginning of Margaret River township. It’s a clearly signposted run, and you won’t need to worry about getting lost.

Not far from here, you could also try the Chimney Trail which is in the Wooditchup National Park. The trail is just off Carters Road near the RAC Holiday Park and is another one that is signposted. The figure eight track descends then ascends, making it a good little workout. It’s also just stunningly beautiful native forest.

Scenic

One of the most scenic runs you’ll find in the region, is in the Meelup Regional Park, which is along Geographe Bay – east of Cape Naturaliste. Aaron Millwood runs the Trans Cape Swim Run event along this part of the coastline, and participants will traverse 26km of coastline, running and swimming in equal measure.

If you’re just seeking solitude and want to get out and do a shorter run along the Meelup Trails, you could park at Meelup beach and head to Eagle Bay. You’ll pass through Point Picquet (named after French explorer Sub-Lieutenant Picquet, who made land in 1801). It’s breathtaking territory, where natural bushland collides with red rocky outcrops, white sands and turquoise waters. Recent bushfires have affected some of the tracks near here, so be prepared for detours or temporary closures.

Afterwards you can refuel the tank nearby at Eagle Bay Brewery, Wise Wines, or Meelup Farmhouse.

Cape To Cape

There are so many parts of the Cape to Cape Track to run, but when pressed for intel, Katie Lovis suggests starting from the Rivermouth in Margaret River and doing a ‘there and back’ to Joey’s Nose. This section will take you across Horseshoe Bay and over Cape Mentelle, then past Kilcarnup and Joey’s Nose beaches.

The run will involve a bit of beach running and some steep climbing, but it really does offer a great panorama of the Cape. If you’re not familiar with these beaches and tracks, Lovis suggests using a Suunto watch and app. “There’s a great mapping function within the app which allows you to map trails, to see what your distance is, and to know your route.”

Trail Running in the Margaret River Region. Credit Elements Margaret River
Forest trails give shade and protection from the elements. Photo credit: Elements Margaret River.

Running in a Group

Lovis says her life really changed when she started running in a group. “It’s the friendship and the laughter and the joy that I get on the trails with other people around to share it.” For runners who want to feel the positivity of a supportive community, Lovis would point them to either Park Run or Margaret River Runner’s Club, which are both held on Saturday mornings.

If you can comfortably run 10km, then Margaret River Runner’s Club is the best one to join. The group is coordinated by locals with a lot of knowledge of the trails, and starts at varying locations each week at 7am. Just check for the latest details on their Facebook page.

For runners who prefer a lighter, 5km run, then Park Run would be where to start. Lovis says that the beauty of Park Run is that it is consistent. “It’s a Saturday morning, 8am no matter where you are in the world, you can look up a Park Run and you can go and participate. You have your barcode and you just turn up and run. It’s not a race. You can run. You can walk. The course is consistent. There’s always support for you there. So it’s a really inclusive run.  Also, Margaret River is fantastic course. It’s one of the most beautiful Park Runs you’re going to get the chance to do.”

Park Run participants meet at Rotary Park and do the Darch Trail loop along the river, with a coffee at the Hairy Marron to finish. Be sure to say hello to the café’s owner and operator Paul Iles. His expertise on biking trails is comparable to none and he serves up a killer flat white.

We’re so lucky where we are, the trails are beautiful, the people are beautiful, so it’s just such an enjoyable thing

Katie Lovis Beach Running
Local runner, Katie Lovis, completed the world record running the Cape to Cape Track in just 17 hours. Photo credit: supplied.

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