Kalbarri National Park showcases the power of nature. With wind and water carving out an impressive 80km gorge through red and white band sandstone. The Loop and Natures Window hike is the best trail to see the Murchison River and the impressive red rock landscape.
What makes this National Park even more special is the mixture of scenery you get. From rolling limestone, to river gorges, to ocean cliffs.
There are two parts to this hike:
Nature’s Window – This is a very easy hike that takes 15 minutes one way and is 500m from the carpark. A lot of tourists will just come for this iconic Natural Arch. Which is such a shame, as the deeper you go into the gorge the more wow moments you have.
However, saying that, you will be wowed the minute you drive into the carpark and are greeted by rolling hills of bushland.
The Loop – Rated as a challenging and strenuous hike, I was very surprised about how easy I found it.
The trail starts with you walking along the cliff tops and descending into the gorge. Then you will walk along the rock ledges on the river’s edge, followed by walking along sandy terrain and then what is described as a steep climb but is actually only 10 minutes of a climb.
My friend and I were dreading the “steep climb” as it is at the end of the hike. And as we had gone to the bottom of the gorge, we thought there would be a lot more up. But to our surprise, we made it up to the top and were shocked there weren’t more rocks to climb!
On The Loop hike you want to make sure the Murchison River is always on your right.
Trail Information about the Loop and Natures Window Hike
Distance: 1km (0.6 miles)
Duration: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy to moderate (depending on fitness level)
Distance: 9.2km (5.7 miles)
Duration: 3 to 4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate to hard (depending on fitness level)
Best times to hike to Nature’s Window
As this hike is easy to moderate depending on your fitness level. You can very easily hike it all year round. I would suggest early mornings to avoid the peak sun.
Best times to hike The Loop trail
As the loop trail goes into a gorge, it is incredibly important to go before 7am in the summer months. This is because the gorge can reach highs of 50 degrees. To avoid fatalities, the National Park closes The Loop Trail after 7am between the months of November and March.
The best time to complete this hike is May through to October as it is the cooler season. We went on this hike in early June and started at 9am.
Between July and October is wildflower season, where the gorge comes alive with even more colours.
How to prepare for The Loop and Natures Window Hike
The trail consists of rocky and sandy terrain. I do not believe it is necessary to wear hiking boots for this walk, but it does require steady footing. I completed the hike in my trail runners and my friend completed it in hiking boots. However, his hiking boots gave him blisters, so he didn’t enjoy it as much as me!
As you are heading into a gorge, it is essential you take a minimum of 2 litres of water.
Be sure to pack:
- First Aid Kit/Plasters
- 2-4 litres of water
- snacks and lunch
- Portable charger
Where to camp for free before going to Kalbarri National Park
An hour and 10 minutes from nature’s window is a free campsite called Galen Bridge Camp Area South.
The spots are right on the waterfront and have drop toilets, picnic benches, dump points and rubbish bins.
The facilities were in good shape and everyone seemed to have plenty of space.
Unlike some free camping areas, the plot of land was huge. Meaning you will not have to stress about getting to the site early.
Entrance fee for Kalbarri National Park
Unfortunately, Kalbarri National Park is not free. In order to enter, you must pay $15 per vehicle (under 12 people) either at the Visitor Centre or at the entrance where you came in.
However, they also retail a 5 day pass for $25. Which I highly recommend if you are doing a WA Road Trip and planning to go to multiple National Parks. The $25 dollars covers all national parks in the WA area.
What to expect when you hike Natures Window and The Loop Track
How the Natures Window Trail starts
When arriving at the carpark, you will be met with rolling hills of green bushland and a red landscape.
Walk down to the welcome board and assess the map before you begin. Make sure you are well prepared with water, sun cream and food.
There is a flight of stairs to walk down before you begin your journey to Nature’s Window.
The path starts off paved and almost instantly you will be wowed by the Murchison River.
The path will then change from paved to sand and rocks. The terrain is a little uneven, so watch your footing. 5 minutes later you will see the beautiful natural archway that is Nature’s window.
From the carpark to nature’s window it will take you 15 minutes and 500m one way.
After you have taken in nature’s amazing architecture and feel prepared, you will start your descent on the Loop Track.
How The Loop Track starts
From the Natures Window you will see white markers trailing off into the distance and these are what you will follow during the whole of The Loop Track.
The rest of the ridge top walking will be on the same rugged terrain. Make sure you have sturdy footing and like to rock hop.
Again, keep the Murchison River on your right the whole time you are in the gorge.
This downhill section into the gorge is a steady slope and won’t be harsh on your knees. You will then arrive at a sandy beach right on the waterfront. You may hear buzzing in the trees. That is from 100 bees. They will not come near you if you do not disturb them. Just keep on walking.
At the bottom of the gorge on The Loop Track
The next bit was probably my favourite. As you swap the sand for a narrow rugged sandstone ledge that is right on the water’s edge.
Halfway along this beautiful red terrain there will be a point where you can go above the rocks or continue on the overhanging rocks next to the river. We must have missed the sign for the top part or just not thought about climbing above. As we continued along the water, there was a section which was a very narrow passage and required some scrambling and breathing in!
I am a tiny human, but even I thought it was a tight squeeze! I then asked my friend how people get through that and noticed hikers up ahead on a higher, wider ledge than us.
We then met a really lovely couple who took our photos earlier at Nature’s Window. They said after chatting to us at the top, they legged it back to their car, got their hiking gear and decided to do the same loop as us.
We walked with them along the river and went further into the gorge. This part was relatively flat with the same sort of path as on the ridgeline.
Along the path we were lucky enough to see an Echidna. It had its face buried in the sand eating lots of ants and then it waddled away after its lunchtime feed.
Me and my friend then decided we were peckish too and stopped on the waterfront for some lunch.
Making your way back up to Nature’s Window
The next part of the hike is a nice flat, easy walk with a wide sandy path. We were lucky to see some kangaroos on the path hopping ahead of us.
And then comes the uphill. The sedimentary layers have created natural stairs for you to walk up.
Lewis and I were dreading this part. As we saw the steep incline, we thought there was going to be loads of uphill to go, but to our pleasant surprise, once we were at the top, that was the top.
The uphill took 10/15 minutes, which we couldn’t fathom as the majority of the hike was downhill and flat.
I really enjoyed this walk and did not find it difficult. I think the reason the National Park says it is strenuous and challenging is because of the heat and the dangers it can cause in the gorge.
However, because we went on a relatively cool day, I think that is a factor that played into it.
The hike took us three and a half hours to complete and that included snack and lunch stops.
Hutt Lagoon, Pink Lake
Did you know there is a pink lake in Kalbarri National Park? An hour and nineteen minutes drive from Nature’s Window and The Loop track is Hutt Lagoon, which is a pink lake.
On the drive down you will see the lake from the road and it is a strong baby pink. However, as we approached the viewpoint of the lake, the pink wasn’t as vibrant as we had earlier seen.
The lake is a really cool spot, especially as it’s not everyday you come across a pink lake.
So why is it pink?
The colour is created from the presence of carotenoid-producing algae, Dunaliella salina, which is a source of beta-carotene; a food-colouring agent; and a source of Vitamin A. (This info is from the Australia Coral Coast website).
In summary, The Loop and Natures Window hike is a scenic rough terrain hike that is moderate to challenging and gives you a real Australian feel of the outback. This hike and National Park is a perfect addition to add to your WA Road Trip Itinerary.
As Always, Happy Exploring!