‘In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks.’ – John Muir.
Bells Rapids is a natural attraction nestled in the Swan Valley off Great Northern Highway on Cathedral Avenue. Panoramic views, the sound of water flowing, people laughing and fresh air to breathe in, it’s a perfect way to spend a few hours.
But one cannot embark on a hike on an empty stomach! As an aside, if you love brunch as much as I do, you are spoiled for choice in the Swan Valley. Before reaching the turn off for Bells Rapids, there are a number of small cafes, wineries and coffee shops to stop in at. This morning, Jesse and I stopped in at Whistler’s Chocolate Co. for brunch before embarking on the hike (we even had some chocolate samples for the road.)
Once we were energised and ready to embark on the hiking trail, we drove up Cathedral Avenue and parked. To access the trails, you’ll need to walk across the foot bridge which is at the end of the car parks. So, depending on where you park, you may have to walk a few hundred metres to get to the starting point.
If hiking isn’t your idea of a fun day outside, you can explore the trails using a mountain bike. You may need to push the bike up in some places due to the steep incline of the terrain and loose rocks but there are many flat surfaces to cycle.
There were many families, couples and solo hikers taking their beloved dogs for a walk as well as kayaking enthusiasts making their way through the rapids.
A return trip on foot will take around 1.5 hours depending on which trail you take (River Walk) or (Goat Walk). Unless, like Jesse and I did today, you take a detour and walk the long way around. We initially started our hike on the longer and tougher trail- Goat Walk (which is a 3km trail with steep inclines and loose rocks) and we found ourselves returning to the bottom of the rapids via the River Walk trail.
The views from the top of the Goat Walk trail are beautiful. You have a clear view of the city skyline as well as the Swan Valley down below. The trails are well marked so it’s difficult to get lost (and if you do, just back track or look for the rapids). I’d recommend a good pair of sneakers or hiking boots if you chose to go for a hike on the Goat Walk trail due to the steep terrain and loose gravel sections.
It’s a beautiful place to spend a sunny winter day. You can pick a picnic and eat on the grass, on the rocks or just stand on the foot bridge and listen to the water travel under the bridge and continue on through the Avon River. There was an ice cream and coffee van set up in front of the public restrooms so if you’re feeling peckish or want to treat yourself, the option is always there!