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The Stirling Range Ridge Traverse is a 19.5km, grade 5 one-way hike located in the Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia. The hike should take approximately 2-3 days to complete. This is an extreme hike and should only be attempted by the highly experienced.
The Stirling Ridge walk follows an ill defined trail over the spectacular mountain peaks between Bluff Knoll and Ellen’s Peak. Most walkers take three days to complete the walk, allowing themselves time to appreciate the natural beauty of this unique environment. Hikers should have good navigation skills and be prepared for steep rock and severe weather.
The Stirling Range Ridge Walk (SRRW) is the only sub-alpine walk in WA. It is more of a climb than a walk. The SRRW is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular and rewarding walks in WA but it is also the most dangerous and the most difficult one. It is rated the hardest walk in the State, and rated in the top 6 most difficult walks in Australia.
The walk along the ridge crosses the 1012 metre high Ellen Peak, passes below the southern cliff on Pyungoorup Peak, over Baker’s Knob, over Third Arrow, over Second Arrow, over First Arrow, across Isongerup, and on to Moongoongoonderup, then down and up again on to St James Peak and over the top of the 1073 metre high Bluff Knoll. It starts (or finishes, depending on which way you go) at the northern boundary of the Stirling Range National Park at about the 250 metre mark, or the Bluff Knoll car park at about 550 metres.
The passes between some of these mountains drop to somewhere about 600 to 800 metres. And the route does not run straight up or straight down or straight anywhere – it varies significantly from the straight line in all dimensions – up and down left and right .It is not quite a corkscrew, but sometimes feels like it as you scramble up one steep slope to be confronted by a 90 degree course change and step descent.
When to Hike
The best time of year to hike the Stirling Range Ridge Walk is late Spring and early Autumn. But if you have your pick, Spring offers the opportunity to enjoy the wildflowers.
You have the option of starting the walk at either Ellen Peak or Bluff Knoll. I recommend Bluff Knoll as your starting point. You have a steep climb to get on the ridge, and it’s easiest at the Bluff Knoll end where there is a set trail.
Apart from the starting points at Bluff Knoll and Ellen’s peak, the two other points at which the ridge walk can be exited are from First Arrow down to the North Mirlpunda track, and from the Moongoongoonderup ridge down to the North Isongerup track. Neither of these are easy escape routes, but they are the only ones that should be considered.
Stirling Range National Park is located in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, approximately 337 km south-east of Perth. Stirling Range Retreat provide a shuttle service. They can also provide info about the walk.
- There is no managed route, camping ground or toilet facilities so you need to take responsibility for your own safety and show respect for the environment you are visiting.
- Competency with navigation and navigation equipment is essential and knowledge of basic first aid is highly advisable.
- Try to minimise your impact on the landscape and take all your rubbish home with you (including food scraps).
- There is no reliable water source on the ridge, so you will need to take enough water for three days.
- Campsites are limited and weather is unpredictable.
- The trail can be hard to follow and emergency exits difficult to locate
Contributed by Daniel Etherington
Max elevation: 1053 m
Min elevation: 262 m
Total climbing: 1774 m
Total descent: -1963 m