The Kep Track
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The Kep Track is a multi use path for hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders, running between Mundaring Weir and Northam. It covers a distance of approximately 75 km and generally follows an old rail reserve which means it has a gentle gradient.
As the track's web site states, the Kep Track is part of the National Trust of Australia (WA) Golden Pipeline project to commemorate the water supply pipeline built in the 1890s to pump water from Perth to Kalgoorlie, and you often end up cycling next to the pipeline for kilometres.
- Day 1: 27 September 2008: John Forrest NP to Northam (83km + 7km)
Although the Kep Track officially starts at the Mundaring Weir, we decided to leave our car at the safety of a friends place which borders the John Forrest NP. From there it was a short cycle to the picnic area within the park and I guess this constituted the start of the track for us. While not officially the Kep Track, the cycle way east follows the Railway Heritage Trail towards Mt Helena where it joins the Kep Track. The trip distances coincidentally worked out to be the same as for the ride from the Mundaring Weir!
The gradients and track surface is generally good all the way to Clackline (where the rail formation ends), which is then followed by approximately 7km of cycling along a surfaced, but quiet, road. Getting back off-road, the track seems to deteriorate, particularly after the West Northam Tanks. The single track down into Northam may be fun without the overnight gear and a manageable bike, but after 70km with a load, the deeply rutted and twisty track seems to push one to the edge (and you definitely wouldn't want to go up the hill with a loaded bike). It's a pity, because it puts a bit of a dampener on the overall touring route.
The campsite is located about 4km on the far side of town, which means that if you want to visit the local supermarket after pitching camp, it's a ride back into town.
(1) Starting the Kep Track at John Forrest NP. (2) Taking a break at Chidlow.
(1) On the Kep Track. (2) Camping in Northam.
- Day 2: 28 September 2008: Northam to John Forrest NP (80km)
We wanted to avoid the rough section of the track up to the West Northam Tanks, so decided to use Mitchell Avenue and the Great Eastern Highway alternative. Leaving early-ish, it was a pleasurable ride with not so steep grades and was quite quiet. Just after the tanks, we turned off to join the Kep Track once again.
Overall it was a good trip, but we probably wouldn't do it again as the scenery varies very little and the roads always seem to be right next door. It's not a ride where you feel like you're "getting away from it all"! That said, it does give you an opportunity to do an overnight cycle tour without having to worry about cars!
(1) The Kep following the The Main Conduit. (2) On the Kep Track.
(1) Longitudinal profile of Kep Track.
Total distance covered: 170 km