Updated: May 16, 2022
Would you climb Frenchman Peak?
The class 5 climb rewards you with spectacular panoramic views over Cape Le Grand National Park.
As we marveled at the colours that were presented to us on arrival at Lucky Bay, a quick look back at the horizon and there it was, Frenchman Peak. Rising only a mere 260 meters above the car park, it is the sheer incline of 48 degrees that makes this class 5 trail more of a rock climb than a hike. Named in 1870 by surveyor Alexander Forest because he believed the peak looked like a French military cap worn by troops in the 1800’s. Not old enough to comment on that!!
Jennifer and I have tackled some good class 3 and 4 hikes but Frenchman Peak was and is a serious challenge. The first section was an pleasant walk along a path at the base of the mountain including a short bridge and wooden boardwalks.
For me at the tender age of 65 and still 120kgs & carrying a backpack, I really struggled. My beautiful and fair bit younger wife, graciously wanted to take the back pack but what bragging rights would I be able to maintain if I did that! I did however much appreciate the rest stops and the encouragement on the way up. There were a few younger and very fit couples who put the blinkers on and passed us in the fast lane. I was hoping to catch up these youngies but hey I soon realized that I had ambition and ability mixed up, we just sucked in another big gasp and gave them a friendly wave and a smile that tried to say "I'm not really hurting“, when we really were!
Oh to be young again!!
Well we finally made it to the top and what an amazing experience. After the obligatory camera shots, the pure beauty and peace of the location took over and we sat at the top not speaking but just enjoying the fruits of our efforts to climb to this wonderful spot. The expansive view and the total range of colours from the white sands, blue to turquoise water, burnt colours of the wild natural flowers and the grey rock monoliths is mind blowing.
Frenchman Peak is like the other outcrops in the Park made of Granite and Gneiss and the winds of time have chiseled out a unique climb that in places requires both hand holds as well as careful foot placement. The caves and tunnels on the peak are believed to have been submerged 40 million years ago and formed by waves and underwater currents.
It is wise to ensure that you have good hiking or climbing foot wear for this one and our Merrells Gore-Tex Boots were just what was needed and gave us complete confidence in the feet placements on both the ascent and descent. You may need to cover up with fly nets and fly spray as the March Flies were out and about when we climbed but the wind did keep them at bay on the way down. Water, Sunscreen and a good hat is a must when you tackle this area in the summer as well as a basic knowledge of the bush and we also carry a snake bite kit. This particular area of National Park is well known for our wriggly friends particularly on the warmer days.
The national park has limited WIFI and mobile reception but at the top of mountain we were able to connect and get signal for the first time in days. All in all the experience took us about 2 hours but the climb is totally worth it if you are in the area and the weather is conducive.
Frenchman Peak is located in Cape Le Grand National Park.
From Esperance, take Fisheries Rd east and then turn right onto Merivale Rd. Continue on Merivale for 25 kilometres, and then turn right onto Cape Le Grand Rd and then left onto Lucky Bay Rd.
The trail starts at the Frenchmans Peak car park.
Frenchman Peak Trail
Classification: Class 5
There is a hard 3km (2 hour) loop hike to the summit
You will need reasonable amount of fitness and balance to traverse the constant incline and scamper over obstructing boulders.
Markers show a general path to follow up the incline.
Strong winds and rain may cause some difficulty and extra caution is needed.
Take water, wear a hat and be prepared for changing weather conditions.
Cape Le Grand is a National Park with entry through the pay station. Day entry is only $15 per car or $9 with a concession. We would recommend purchasing a Parks Pass if you intend to visit National Parks throughout Western Australia.