Your Guide to the Bells Rapids Hike

The Bells Rapids hike is one of my favourite bush walks Perth has to offer. It is only a 40-minute drive from Perth CBD in the suburb of Brigadoon in the Swan Valley. It’s a fairly tame hike – the perfect Sunday morning activity before catching up with mates over a beer. There’s plenty to see at Bells Rapids Park, including waterfalls, deep ravines, and charming bushland – sometimes it’s just great to get outdoors and explore!

Image of a fallen tree in the bush with the text "Your guide to the bells rapids hike" overlaid in white

Biology nerds, like myself, will be able to marvel at the native flora including the towering paperbark trees, flooded gum trees and the beautiful grape grevillea. If lucky, they might also be able to spot some of the resident grey kangaroos and other fauna including birds like the little pied cormorant, plenty of lizards and maybe even a snake or two during warmer months.

There are two Bells Rapids walk trails, the River Walk and the Goat Walk. They combine to make a 5.5km circuit that follows the white-water rapids of the Swan River where hikers can enjoy the beautiful rock pools guarded by enormous boulders before heading off into picturesque bushland.

The hike begins from the car park on Cathedral Avenue. Walkers first make their way over the Bells Rapids Park Footbridge. It’s a great spot to stop for a photo, especially in Winter when the rains come in and the rapids are flowing fiercely.

River Walk Trail

A left turn after the footbridge will start you on the easier, 2.5km River Walk Trail following along the Swan River.

Soon you’ll reach a rocky section with a path heading off to the right. This is the end of the River Walk, hikers can either turn around and return along the same path or turn right and continue along the Goat Walk Trail.

Goat Walk Trail

A right turn after the footbridge will start you on the more challenging goat walk trail. You’ll soon come to a T-Junction where you should turn left. The path then becomes much steeper as you make your way uphill to the scenic lookout point – a great place to stop for a break while you soak up the views of the Swan Coastal Plains.

The trail continues downhill, and you will pass the Bridle trail on your right. Continue along until you reach the river and make a left turn, this is where the trail joins up with the River Walk Trail to complete the 5.5km loop.

Bells Rapids Waterfall

Bells Rapids waterfall, aka Bells Falls is an absolute hidden gem! You can get there by following the river upstream. Keep in mind, this is off the beaten path so stay smart and stay safe if you’re trying to find it.

Cam Bostock has made an excellent video about the falls and how to reach them:

The Avon Descent

Bells Rapids is a great spot to watch the Avon Descent.  The Avon descent is an annual river race and community festival that takes place along the Swan and Avon Rivers. It features surfboats, dragon boats, paddle craft and powerboats. The event is held in August, where the rushing rapids of the park pose an exciting challenge for kayakers.

Bells Rapids Hike and Dogs

Unlike many hikes around Perth, this one is dog friendly so you can finally bring your furry mate along on an adventure this weekend! Dogs are allowed on-lead throughout Bells Rapids Park but there are also a few off-lead areas.

Bells Rapids Hike Safely

As with any hike, before you set out on your adventure be sure to inform family/friends where you’re going and your expected return time.

Make ensure you carry plenty of water. You should aim to drink about half a litre per hour – even in cooler weather.

Keep in mind that the rapids can flow quite fast in the wet season so take care around the river to avoid injury.

Parallel to the river walk you will come across an older trail that’s closer to the river. This should not be used as it’s unstable.

There are some markers along the trail but these can be hard to spot, a map of the trails can be found on the City of Swan website.

What to do after your Bells Rapids Hike

Why not stay for a picnic after your Bells Rapids hike? There are wide open spaces on both sides of the river with excellent picnic spots. There are plenty of shaded areas under the trees if you want to escape the hot summer sun with your post-hike beer.

Or you can always treat yourself to a well-deserved stop at a Swan Valley winery after your hike!

Image of the river from the Bells Rapids hike. There is grass and trees either side of the bank

Hike Details:

Hike Length

The Bells Rapids walk trail is 5.5 km in total, but hikers can also complete the shorter 2.5km River Walk or the 3km Goat walk.

Hike Duration

The Bells Rapids walk will take up to two hours depending on the trail you choose and your fitness level.

Hike Difficulty

The combined loop is classified as Grade 3. Some hiking experience or average fitness is recommended as there are some steep sections, but the trail is well maintained. Independently, the River Walk is quite easy, and the Goat Walk is a little more challenging.

How to Get to Bells Rapids

Bells Rapids is a 40-minute drive from Perth CBD along Great Northern Highway. The entrance and carpark are off Cathedral Avenue.

Entry Fees

Bells Rapids Park is free to enter.

Best time to visit Bells Rapids

Bells Rapids is a Perth hiking spot that is best enjoyed in Winter and Spring when the water level is highest, and rapids are flowing wild.

Visitors in July – November will be able to enjoy the beautiful wildflowers.

Bells Rapids is a great spot to watch the annual Avon Descent in August.

Facilities

Bells Rapids Park has a small toilet block and ample parking. However, there are no BBQ facilities or picnic tables.

Accessability

Some parts of Bells Rapids Park are wheelchair accessible but the path from the carpark to the bridge may be challenging to navigate.

Bells Rapids FAQ

Are dogs allowed at Bells Rapids?

Yes, Dogs are allowed at Bells Rapids. Dogs should be on-lead in most areas but there are also a couple of off-lead areas.

Can you Swim at Bells Rapids?

No, swimming is not recommended at Bells Rapids due to the strong undercurrents.

Do you have to pay to go to Bells Rapids?

No, entry to bells rapids is free.

Can you go fishing at Bells Rapids?

Yes, you can go fishing at Bells Rapids

Is there water at Bells Rapids?

The water level at Bells Rapids varies throughout the year. In Winter and Spring the water is highest and in Summer it can be dried up.

What River is Bells Rapids?

Bells Rapids is part of the Swan River. It is close to where the Swan and Avon Rivers meet.

Can you 4WD at Bells Rapids?

Yes, you can 4WD on the Southern bank of the river, but don’t try to cross the rapids.

Last Words on the Bells Rapids Hike

I hope you’ll check out Bells Rapids on your next Perth Weekend. The best thing about the park is that you’re surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, yet it feels like you’re many kilometres away from Perth’s bright city lights.

It’s a Perth day trip not to miss!

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