Pyrenees Endurance Walk
Time 2 days Distance 21km (one way) Grade Moderate - Hard
Map recommended - Avoca 7523 N
Map recommended - Avoca 7523 N
The Pyrenees Endurance Walk takes anywhere from 11-13 hrs to complete. It does require a car shuffle as it is not a loop, and it is recommended as an overnight trip. This walk is aptly named considering the steepness of some of the areas and you will need some reasonable navigational skills as many sections are poorly signalled (though upgrades due to the 2012 marathon ride have seen some great improvements in the track and signage). However I would still recommend that you take a decent topographical map at very least (we used both the topo and Garmin 62sc GPS several times to double check directions). In drier months, you will need to carry enough water for two days.
This hike can be undertaken either West to East or East to West. We decided to do it West to East, starting off at the Hankin Track and finishing off at the Waterfalls Picnic Area. The Cameron Track Camping Area is the halfway point.
Day 1 - 5hrs
You can either park your car at the entrance of the Hanking track on Glenlofty-Warrenmang rd, or you can drive for about 600 - 800m on the Hankin track, turn right (there is a track marker so look out for it), continue for a further 200m, and park your car at the entrance of what I consider the real start of the track.
Parking spot on Hankin Track
Start the walk by following the dirt track through a little gully and up toward the first 4WD track (Smith Track), this will ascend steeply for about 2km. Once you reach the top, it will flatten out again and head North-North East on the Black Range Track. However, this flat section doesn't last too long (this is only about 1.8km) and begins the more taxing section of day one.
At first the forested area is fairly open, there is very little scrub, however this quickly changes. As you begin to weave your way around the little hills and gullies, you will see that the sparse forest gives way to a plethora of grasses, scrub and thicker bush. Continue to follow the track and cross the Old King Tree Track to wind your way around more hills and wetter gulleys. This section of the track is well marked and while it does get tiring due to the many steep hills that need to be climbed, it is for the most part a very enjoyable experience.
Eventually you will begin to ascend until you reach the intersection between the endurance track and the Cameron Track.
This section took about 4 1/2hrs to complete. However, once you reach the intersection don't just drop your pack! you will still need to follow the steep Cameron Track in a North-East direction for about 900m until you reach the Cameron Track Camping ground.
The camping ground is very pleasant. There is a nice grassy hill for setting up tents, a sheltered area fro cooking and eating as well as good toilet facilities (take your own toilet paper as it does tend to run out!). There is a rain water tank which in the wetter months is the only source of water to refill bladders of drinking bottles (but it does need filtering and I am not sure if it would have water in the summer months).
Day 2 - 7hrs
The scenery on day two is similar to what you encountered on day one, however it does seem to climb more often than on the first day.
To continue the walk, follow the Cameron Track back to the intersection which you left the day before. You will once again enter the hills and gullies as you meander your way through the forest. You will cross some 4WD tracks, including a couple which are not depicted on topo maps or Pyrenees Ranges State Forest PDF. In this section you will definitely need to keep your eyes open for track markers until you come to a small creek (Nowhere Creek).
Continue up the creek for about 200-300m. You will then cross an unnamed track (according to our GPS this is an extension of Cross track) and begin once again climbing up the hillside for approximately 8000-900m where you will cross over Old Tiger Cat Track (this section took about 4hrs).
From Old Tiger Track continue following the walk markers onto Emery Track (this takes another 1/2 - 1hr or so). This is a good place to stop, take your pack off and have some lunch to re-energise for the final 2 1/2-3hrs of the walk.
From this section, you will once again begin to climb. However the gradient is fairly gentle and wont be overly taxing. After about 2km you will join up to Glen Patrick Track which takes you up to the highest point of the walk. The summit of Mt Avoca.
Follow The Main Break Mountain Hut Track for about 500m to the walk's turnoff. From here the track begins to descend steeply for another 2km until you reach the Waterfall Picnic Area.