Our plan was to start the Denmark to Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail in Nornalup. After we completed the Warren Blackwood Stock Route we headed onto Walpole only to run into a prescribed burn. We had to alter our route and ended up riding north of Walpole along North Walpole Road, Bridge Road, Dingo Flats Road and the Valley of the Giants Road to end up at Bow Bridge, thereby missing the section from Station Road to Peaceful Bay Road.
The trail doesn't meet up yet with the second section starting at Parker Road. The 14km section between Bow Bridge and Parker Rd is not expected to be open for a few years, once bridges over the Kent and Bow Rivers have been re-built, according to the Trails WA website.
From Bow Bridge we rode along the South Coast Highway (not ideal and not for the faint hearted) to the Kent River. Here we stayed at Jo's place who runs a Fresh Produce Stall at the river and was kind enough to let us stay for the night. If you are in the neighborhood we strongly recommend stopping at her stall as she sells the most yummy salad, garlic and strawberry jam we ever had.
From Kent River it was only up Parker Road to start the trail. There is no place to camp at the head of the trail, just a bigger gravel road with some room to drop of the horses with a float if you need to.
The trail was very pretty with lush green grass for the boys, beautiful wild flowers that were still out and plenty of kangaroos around.
Riding along it was easy to imagine how the train would have travelled through this landscape, being up high, overlooking the farm land. Along the way you will come to a couple of old railway bridges. There are mounting blocks on either side of the bridge.
The trail from Parker Road to Hay River is about 45 km. If you have a fit horse you will be able to do it in one day. If your horse is not used to long distance travel or if you, like us, have been travelling for a while, you might want to split it up and stay the night somewhere. There are no official camps along the trail and it proved very hard to find a suitable place to camp. Which is why we were lucky to stay at Janine's place on Kordabup Road. Her farm backs onto the trail, so that was ideal for us. Thanks!!
The next day we continued the trail heading towards Denmark. It was a pretty wet day, but it didn't spoil the fun. The trail goes through farmland and you will have to open some gates to get through. Although a lot of gates were open at the time. The track itself goes from gravel to sandy, about 50/50 I would say. I didn't come across another living soul on the whole track, saw lots of wildlife and really enjoyed riding the horses. Sometimes you will see evidence of the old railway, like sleepers and railroad nails. It's easy to remember the old days and see the train meaner through.
Please be advised the bridge over Little River, between Lights Road and Ocean Beach Road is down. There is a temporary bridge made out of scaffolding for walkers and bike riders, but I would not recommend it for horse riders. Erwin, Giles and Tonto went through the water, which was no mean feat as the river banks were pretty steep.
At the Denmark River mouth you will come across another challenge, the foot bridge over the river. It can be pretty busy here with tourists, canoes, paddleboarders and bike riders. When we crossed we didn't see anybody, so we rode along it. If there are others, or if your horse is not as brave, just walk across. It's great fun!
On the other side of the bridge you can continue the trail on the Wilson Inlet Heritage Trail. The Denmark Equestrian grounds are located right along the trail here and it would have been great if camping was available. Maybe in future?
The trail follows Wilson Inlet and has spectacular views over the water. There is some interpretative signage as well here.
The trail comes out on the South Coast Highway again. About 2km before Hay River there is a parking lot where you can park your float if you want to start the trail from this end. I missed it and parked the truck up at the Hay River. On the other side of the bridge on our way to Albany.
We really enjoyed this beautiful rail trail and recommend you try it as well. Let us know how you go!
If you are looking for some more information, check out the Rail Trail website.