Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Masons Falls, Kinglake National Park - 13th April, 2014

Masons Falls, Kinglake National Park - 13th April, 2014

Masons Falls

  It's an overcast day as I drive out from Whittlesea towards Kinglake, and I'm quietly hoping for a bit of rain to add a touch of mystique to the upcoming walk. There are a few dark, menacing clouds floating around, but they seem to be heading away from the mountains ahead. I love walking in the mist and rain, it gives places a different look and feel. The air is cool as I step out of the car at the Mount Sugarloaf car park, and I clip a fleece vest under the compression straps of my pack, just in case I require it when I stop. I run pretty hot whilst walking, and rarely need warmer layers unless it is really cold, but it's handy having a warmer layer handy when you cool off.

Mt Sugarloaf car park sign tells us we are 550m above sea level.

 After resetting my GPS and firing up the GPS logging app on my phone (I use Hike & Bike on my Nokia Lumia 625 Windows phone, and I can recommend both highly, the combination works very well!). I shoulder my pack and hit the trail. The first leg of the hike heads NNE along Mt Sugarloaf Ridge Track, running parallel to Mt Sugarloaf Road,  back towards the gate where I entered the park via National Park Road. At one stage a trail crosses over the road, with white animal tracks painted on the road to guide walkers across to the other side.

View over farmland from Mt Sugarloaf Ridge Track.

The blackened remains of gums stand above the lush green regrowth, a stark reminder of the devastation  of the Black Saturday bushfires 5 years ago. The area has re-vegetated quickly, with thick undergrowth filling in the gaps between trees, and some trees showing clumps of green sprouting from blackened trunks. Some, too badly burned, will never regrow.

Reminder of not-so-peaceful times past.

  A little under 3km along the track, I veer NW onto Wallaby Trail. This is an open fire trail, easy walking, and will lead me right to the falls as it connects with Running Creek Track further down.

Wallaby Trail.

Scenery changes as we approach Running Creek Track.
As I arrive at Running Creek Track, I take a right turn and head NNE once again to arrive at the Masons Falls Lookout. Some great work has been carried out here, with a rather new looking viewing platform supplying a terrific vantage point overlooking the falls. In a way, it seems a shame to stick a large, man made object into this beautiful scenery, but if it encourages people to get out and enjoy nature and this beautiful location, it can't be all bad.

Masons Falls viewing platform.
Facing the viewing platform is a tiered area where I sat and enjoyed some lunch whilst looking out over the valley.

Tiered seating area at the Falls viewing platform.
A dense carpet of trees cover the hills rolling into the valley, some showing blackened branches reaching for the sky, and the creek winds it's way around rocks dotted with large tree ferns and lush undergrowth.

View down the valley from the Falls.

Masons Falls.

Tree ferns seem happy with conditions at the base of the Falls.
After a bite to eat and a drink, I decide to wander up the (well made and surfaced) trail to the top of the Falls and take a couple of snaps. There are quite a few people out enjoying the sunshine and the scenery, probably due to the fact that they can park at the Masons Falls car park and take a short stroll down to the falls. There are children out with their parents having fun in nature, which is great!
Shadowy self portrait on the well made trail.

The top of Masons Falls, not a lot of flow at this time.
After a few snaps I wander back down the trail to the viewing platform and head back to the junction of Wallaby Trail and Running Creek Track, choosing to head SSW downhill and follow Running Creek Track along the side of the creek. The first section is a steady downhill hike, and I can hear the calm, relaxing sounds of water splashing over rocks as I walk, it's volume varying as the trail meanders along the hillsides. As I pass through a picturesque flat section called Ferny Nook, so named I imagine due to the number of tree ferns lining the sides of the track, I hear the creek trickling loudly to my right.

Heading into Ferny Nook

The sign says it all!

I spot a small trail into the shrubbery off the side of the main track, and decide to explore. I am rewarded with a beautiful little section of creek, with ferns overhanging the narrow flow wandering it's way over rocks and logs. What a fantastic place! This would be a wonderful spot to camp, if it were not for the fact that there is no room to pitch a tent, and the creek would rise of there were to be a decent downpour! Oh well, it's nice to daydream...

A secluded section of the aptly named Running Creek

Lovely spot just off the main trail.
After a bit of contemplation in this wonderful place, I drag myself away and rejoin the main track. I pass three others walking in the opposite direction, and my "Enjoy the climb!" is rewarded with a "You have a decent one coming!" As this is my first walk here, I'm not sure what is ahead, but I really enjoy a hike with a good altitude gain, so I push on. I pass a nice carving where an imaginative and skilled chainsaw operator has left his mark:
Chainsaw skills on show.

The trail remains relatively easy, much of it descending until I pass a section which runs right beside the creek, then turns uphill. The climb begins in earnest!

Running Creek beside Running Creek Track.

The climb begins!
This section of track consists of a fairly steep climb through a couple of switchbacks, and as I hold a steady pace, I feel my heart start to pump and my lungs work. I enjoy a decent climb, and this one seems to go on for quite a while! I pass a lady taking her time working up the grade, and offer a "Hello! Lovely day for a walk!" She replies between breaths "Yes, beautiful!"
I continue on for what seems an age until I reach the road quite near Mt Sugarloaf car park, and cross the tarmac at the painted animal tracks to rejoin Mt Sugarloaf Ridge Track. I'm almost there! A short hike up the track and I am back at the car park. My GPS app tells me I have covered 14.3km in just on three and a half hours, including lunch and photo stops, not bad...
This is a wonderful place to walk, and I highly recommend it. If you want to follow my route but want to take it a bit easier, I would suggest you veer left and cross the road at the painted animal tracks, following the trail in a clockwise direction, as this gets the steep section out of the way as a downhill hike first up. You can then take a more steady climb up to the falls, have a rest there and continue with an easy walk back to the car park.
Get out there and enjoy!

Happy trails,


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