How To Hike The Cape To Cape: A 6 Day Itinerary

The Cape to Cape Track, Western Australia

To hike the Cape to Cape walk involves a 135km trek along coastal Western Australia. The trail connects the lighthouses located at Cape Naturaliste outside of Dunsborough and Cape Leeuwin, Augusta.

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The Cape to Cape: Everything you Need to Know Before you Go!

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How to Hike the Cape to Cape

hike the Cape to Cape

There are many ways to hike the Cape to Cape. Guided tours, end to end hiking and camping on the trail, staying in local accomodation; or breaking the trail up into day walks over a longer time period.

Below is a 6 day itinerary to hike the Cape to Cape as a thru-hike and both camping and staying in accommodation along the trail. I’ve also included some recommendations about how I’d hike the Cape to Cape in future.

Use this itinerary as a guide & tailor your trek based on your fitness level, how much weight you want to carry (full backpack vs day bag), time of year and the length of time you want to spend on the trail.

Cape to Cape campsites

We camped on the trail, at both free and paid campsites and spent one night in a cabin midway through the trek. We arranged our itinerary over 6 days as it suited our family commitments. But some people hike the Cape to Cape in as little as 5 days or stretch it out over 8. A 7 day itinerary seems to be the most popular way to hike the Cape to Cape.

You can hike the Cape to Cape in either direction, but we chose to go North to South. This meant the sun was behind us and we saved the more difficult sections of the track until the end when our track fitness had improved.

Day 1: Cape Naturaliste – Yallingup

Distance: 14km

Time: 4 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Highlights: Cape Naturaliste lighthouse, views of Sugarloaf Rock and the only 3.7km paved section of the entire trek!

day 1 trail Atlas Introspective

Getting There

We travelled from Perth and arrived at Cape Naturaliste at around 2pm and left our car at the public car park outside the lighthouse. This is allowed, but you do so at your own risk. Remove all valuables from the car, leave glove boxes & consoles open and park under a light if you can.

Day 1 is a straightforward 4 hour hike and easily completed in half a day. If you can start earlier, you may want to press on further than Yallingup. Or spend the afternoon relaxing and enjoying everything Yallingup has to offer.

Introduce yourself to the staff at Cape Naturaliste and take a look at the lighthouse. Cape to Cape hikers often get special treatment from the locals & you may get free admittance. Before you hike the Cape to Cape, first touch the red door to commemorate the start of your trek! Return through the Visitors Centre to reach the beginning of the trail.

Starting to hike the Cape to Cape

The first 3.7km section of the trail is wheelchair, gopher and stroller friendly and is a gentle start to the trek. Enjoy the smooth footpath! We we were able to cover a lot more ground faster on Day 1, because this section was paved.

Two short beach sections are the first introduction to hiking on soft sand with your backpack. Throughout the hike I tended to keep my boots on for the beach stretches, unless there was a water crossing. It can be easier walking barefoot on the sand, but you also need to consider time lost taking your boots on and off and the risk of getting sand in your boots.

Mt Duckworth

Fiona selfie storm Atlas Introspective

North of Yallingup is a free campsite called Mt Duckworth (11kms from Cape Naturaliste). This is a good option for a basic camp site or a shorter hike on Day 1. There are basic facilities (compost toilet, water tank). As a rule, it’s best to boil the water sourced from all the water tanks at camp sites before drinking.

We booked a campsite at Yallingup Beach Holiday Park. It’s just off the beach and the trail goes straight past it. There are several accommodation options available here. Campers have access to a bathroom & shower block, running water and powered sites. After pitching our tent, we celebrated our first night of the hike with a hot meal and a cold beer at the Caves House Hotel, a ten minute walk from the campsite.

Day 2: Yallingup – Moses Rock

Distance: 20km

Time: 8 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Highlights: Smiths beach- a famous WA surfing spot

Check out the Yallingup General Store or Cafe for breakfast or a decent coffee before heading back out on the trail.

The terrain was a bit more varied on Day 2, longer sandy beaches, rocky sections and soft sand 4WD tracks. After leaving Yallingup we didn’t stop in any towns for the remainder of Day 2. The morning took us past some popular surfing spots. Then in the afternoon there was a bit of walking on 4WD tracks.

Moses Rock campsite

We camped at Moses Rock campsite (free). The campsite was full of people who had come to hike the Cape to Cape and there was plenty of room for everyone. Facilities included a couple of picnic tables, a water tank and a compost toilet. The views from the camp in the morning were beautiful.

river crossing cape to cape Atlas Introspective

Our evenings at basic campsites were spent pitching our tent and then having dinner. After that we boiled water for the following day. We chose to hike the Cape to Cape during the school holidays so the trail was busier. We sorted out our water in the evening so we could get away faster in the morning.

Day 3: Moses Rock – Prevelly

Distance: 34km

Time: (approximately) 11 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Highlights: Gracetown, Ellensbrook homestead, Wildflowers

Choosing to hike the Cape to Cape in 6 days meant committing to two days of trekking 30+ kms. We made a reservation for a cabin, in Prevelly for the evening of Day 3 as an incentive.

Most hikers trek from Moses Rock to Ellensbrook campsite and if I were to tackle the hike again, I would too. The slightly shorter distance means there’s more opportunity to appreciate the journey. Ellensbrook campsite is a free site with basic ammenities (compost toilet, water tank).

Fiona on the trail Atlas Introspective

Gracetown & Ellensbrook Homestead

Day 3 was a really enjoyable hike. We left camp at 8am and hiked along some beautiful coastal trails. Arriving in Gracetown at 11.30am, we stopped for lunch at Gracies General Store which is just back from the beach. There were about four different groups there to hike the Cape to Cape having lunch at the cafe. It was great to take a break & swap stories with other hikers.

From Gracetown it was just under a 3 hour hike to Ellensbrook Homestead through a beautiful stretch of coast. The wildflowers were out in full force but the trail was slightly overgrown here so we used our hiking poles to protect our faces. There were also a lot of bees in this section, so take care if you suffer allergies. The Ellensbrook campsite is further south of the Homestead, about 10 minutes walk.

yellow flower trails bees Atlas Introspective

Margaret River mouth crossing

Trekkers who hike the Cape to Cape must assess whether it’s safe to cross the Margaret River mouth. When we were on the trail, Margaret River was flowing pretty heavily and so a diversion was in place. Crossing the river mouth at that time meant (depending on the tide) the water could potentially be chest high. This isn’t safe when you have a heavy backpack to carry above your head. The Margaret River mouth is usually uncrossable through Winter and well into Spring. Check in with Parks and Wildlife before you hike the Cape to Cape to determine if it will be safe.

Prevelly Caravan Park

Once we arrived in Prevelly we enjoyed a quiet afternoon. We stayed at the Prevelly Caravan Park and is a great option for campers who want the comfort of extra amenities (shower block, toilets, running water, laundry facilities). They also have cabins for those who want to treat themselves to a bed. Check-in via the General Store just outside of the entrance. While you’re there you can also stock up on supplies or treat yourself to a sundowner.

Sea Garden Cafe

The Sea Garden Cafe is next to the general store is the Sea Garden Cafe. Take the night off cooking and relax after a few days on the trail. If you arrive early enough you can watch the sunset over the ocean. The Sea Garden Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and also offer take away. It’s a great option for a meal regardless of whether you are staying in Prevelly.

beach view 1 Atlas Introspective

The cabin in Prevelly had a fridge, sink, kettle and basic cooking facilities (hotplate, microwave, cutlery & crockery), so the jetboil got the day off & we hand-washed our clothes to dry under the veranda.

The trail doesn’t pass directly through Prevelly, but is worth the detour to stock up on supplies or get a hot meal.

Day 4: Prevelly – Contos Campground

Distance: 18km

Time: 6.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Highlights: Tannin stained rivers, Bob’s Grotto

We started Day 4 refreshed after a night under a roof. There was a bit of a trek to get back to the trail as it doesn’t pass directly through the town.

The trail starts on a 4WD track and goes further inland to avoid a river mouth crossing. There’s a short bridge that crosses Boodjidup Brooke and the descent to the crossing was quite steep and slippery because it had been raining. There’s a clearing at the bottom of the stairs and a bench in a sheltered area to rest.

Later in the day you pass limestone cliffs and Bob’s Grotto. It rained pretty steadily throughout the day and we were able to take shelter there.

JF forrest selfie Atlas Introspective

Conto’s Campsite

There is a sign on the trail that directs you to Conto’s campsite. When we arrived the desk was unattended but we had pre-booked and went to our designated section. Conto’s is a large camp ground divided into several sections. There are signs with maps located throughout the grounds.

The more rustic Point Road campsite is a couple of kms further south if you want to shave a few kms off your hike on Day 5. We opted to keep our reservation at Conto’s because the weather rolled in late in the afternoon. It was easier to use the undercover outdoor kitchen where we could cook, eat and repack out of the rain. We had an early night as Day 5 was a long one!

Jarrad tent Atlas Introspective

Day 5: Contos – Deepdene Campground

Distance: 30km

Time: 11 hours

Difficulty: Moderate but a long day. Allow plenty of daylight. The last stretch of trail covers cliff sections with blow holes. Avoid walking here at dusk or after dark.

Highlights: Boranup Forest, Foul Bay Lighthouse, Limestone blowholes

We set the alarm for first light because to hike the Cape to Cape section of trail took 11 hours. We reached Deepdene with an hour of daylight left to pitch the tent.

Boranup Forest

The track through the Boranup Forest was a real novelty after days spent on the coast. The terrain was fairly flat so covered a bit of ground quickly compared to previous days.

forrest trail Atlas Introspective

The second half of the morning was spent on a long beach stretch, approximately 6km. This was the second longest beach stretch to hike the Cape to Cape. After this section treat yourself to lunch in Hamelin Bay, but try not to linger too long, there is still a fair amount of ground to cover in the afternoon. The final section of the day is across ragged limestone clifftops and past blow holes, so avoid hiking this stretch of the trail after dark.

Deepdene Campsite

Deepdene campground is off a beach section, behind the dunes. There’s a sign with a tent on the beach directing hikers to the trail that leads there. This campsite is smaller than previous sites we’d stayed at and there were about 6 other tents pitched by the time we arrived which was maxing out the space. As with other basic campgrounds, there was a water tank and a compost toilet.

cape to cape broken sign Atlas Introspective

Day 6: Deepdene Campground – Cape Leeuwin

Distance: 18km

Time: 6 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Highlights: Long beach stretch, views of Cape Leeuwin for most of the hike

There’s no direct access to Deepdene Campsite so this section is usually only completed to hike the Cape to Cape.

Deepdene Beach

Day 6 starts with the longest beach stretch- over 7km. If the weather is clear you can see the final destination: Cape Leeuwin!

There’s alot of hiking in beach sand and dunes before returning to the coastal trail. But it’s the home stretch!

A wide 4WD track leads to a more overgrown bush trail. At the southern registration station it’s just shy of 3km to the lighthouse.

view of final lighthouse Atlas Introspective

Cape Leeuwin

The trail leads to Cape Leeuwin lighthouse via the visitors centre. People who hike the Cape to Cape don’t have to pay the entrance fee. Continue through and if you’re lucky you can conclude the end of the hike by touching the door of Cape Leeuwin. We weren’t able to as they were doing repairs and it was covered in scaffolding! But it’s a good excuse to return.

Now you’ve finished, grab a cold drink and celebrate the end of an epic hike. The visitors centre sell souvenirs, including certificates for those who hike the Cape to Cape. Proceeds from sales go to the Friends of the Cape to Cape, a not for profit group that support the Parks and Wildlife in maintaining the track.

last day lighthouse Atlas Introspective

Getting from Cape Leeuwin to Augusta & Dunsborough

Call a local taxi to get to Augusta. We pre-booked a hotel room and after spending the night we caught the TransWA bus back to Dunsborough. At the time of writing, this service ran twice per day so it can be worth pre-booking. From Dunsborough bus stop, we caught another taxi back to our car at Cape Naturaliste.

The Cape to Cape Walk

Hiking the Cape to Cape was the longest thru-hike I’ve completed so far. It was amazing to finally finish a trek that’s been on my wish list for over ten years. I encourage all visitors to the area to hike the Cape to Cape, even just a short section on a day trip. There’s no better way to experience the unique West Australian landscape where the coastline meets the bush.

How did you hike the Cape to Cape?

2 hiking packs Atlas Introspective