Castle Rock Granite Skywalk
Having shared my experience yesterday on climbing Bluff Knoll, the tallest mountain in Western Australia’s stunning Stirling Ranges I thought we’d follow up with what I deem to be the most engaging & picturesque hike in the area – hiking up Castle Rock and climbing up a ladder to reach the recently built Granite Skywalk that adorns the top of this magnificent mountain.
If you’re in Western Australia this hike is a must do.
You simply cannot compare it to the few hikes that exist around the Perth metro area.
The Granite Skywalk (which sits atop Castle Rock) hike begins from a decent sized carpark on Castle Rock rd, which comes off of Porongurup road (you’ll soon see the Granite Skywalk signs) this drive will take you about three quarters of an hour assuming you’re heading here from the Albany township.
If you’re feeling up to it you can definitely hit Bluff Knoll and the Granite Skywalk in the same day.
The Granite Skywalk is a there and back style hike as there’s only one way up and one way down.
You’ll cover 4.4km from the starting point in the carpark to the top of the Granite Skywalk’s ladder and back down again.
Don’t let the distance deceive you, it may only be a little over 4km to the top and back but you’ll be climbing steep loose hills, scrambling over sections of large boulders (there are a few hand rails for assistance) and climbing up ladders.
I’d imagine it would take the average person about 45 – 60 minutes to get to the top and roughly the same to get back down.
The Granite Skywalk is 670m above sea level.
The view and the climb during this hike are epic, but you’re still a far away off the elevation of Bluff Knoll which sits at 1,082m above sea level.
I’d allow 2 hours to complete this hike, allowing you time to take it all in on the flashy new lookout and descend at a comfortable speed.
I’ve completed hikes in WA that’re over 5 times as long as the Granite Skywalk hike, but I’d still rate the difficulty bordering on high for this hike, particularly due to the last few hundred meters – unlike Bluff Knoll which is essentially just a big steady slog up a mountain in the case of ascending the Granite Skywalk at Castle Rock you need to be flexible enough to maneuver yourself between/over/under an array of large boulders to reach the ladder to the top.
Climbing Castle Rock itself is what I would deem to be a moderate hike.
Reaching the Granite Skywalk is what I would deem moderate/bordering on hard depending on your fitness level and flexibility.
Cost to Climb
As the Granite Skywalk is located within a national park, it attracts a $12 entry fee.
This is a trust system, you won’t find someone waiting to take payment in a ticketing booth, you’ll find a parking meter in the carpark to make your own payment.
I’ve climbed the Granite Skywalk a handful of times and have never seen anyone inspecting who has bought a ticket and who hasn’t, but don’t be the guy that doesn’t pay entry – the money goes towards maintaining this hike as well as others in the nearby area.
Buy the ticket, do the hike.
Take at least 2 litres (half a gallon) of water per person climbing.
Temperature/wind/rain etc. can be somewhat unpredictable during your climb so dress accordingly – I recommend wearing layers.
In terms of food I wouldn’t recommend packing anything too substantial – some trail mix, apples, bananas and perhaps an energy gel or two will more than suffice. Simple carbohydrates will give you the energy you need to conquer this one.
You don’t need fancy hiking boots but I’d recommend you at least wear some trail running shoes, the descent is quite steep and has a decent amount of loose terrain – the chance of sliding down or rolling an ankle if wearing regular runners is quite high (many people do it but I’d never recommend it).
If heights aren’t your thing I don’t recommend climbing to the very top – it’s generally quite windy up there and you’ve got a little access ladder to climb before you’re greeted with an expansive view and open glass lookout.
Take The Path Less Travelled (The Scramble!)
The hike is reasonably cruisey until you encounter this sign 200~ from the top.
The first part of the scramble, you can’t see them overly well in the photo below but there are a number of handles on both sides to grip as you pull yourself over the boulders and rock formations on the way to the lookout.
Climbing To The Skywalk
The 7m access ladder that leads to the Skywalk platform, it’s always relatively windy here!
Greetings from the top!
Enjoy the view, you’ve earned it.
Headed Back Down
As mentioned above this is an out and back hike so you’ll be descender the ladder, going through the scramble once again and following the trail back down to the carpark.