Admire the beauty of the Cape Le Grand National Park from a new perspective with the Frenchman Peak hike trail. A very steep but extremely rewarding hike, take it on and you’ll be rewarded with incredible panoramic views on the summit and a huge cave to explore.
In this guide we let you know everything you need to know about the Frenchman Peak hike trail. We go into details on everything such as; how long the Frenchman Peak hike is, how hard the Frenchman Peak hike is, the best time to complete the Frenchman Peak hike, how much the Frenchman Peak hike costs, and what facilities are at Frenchman Peak. If you’re interested in taking on the Frenchman Peak hike yourself, keep reading so you can be fully prepared.
How Long is the Frenchman Peak Hike?
The Frenchman Peak hike trail is approximately 3km return.
How Long does it Take to Hike Frenchman Peak?
The Frenchman Peak hike takes around 1-2 hours to complete. The time it takes you will vary depending on your fitness level, how often you stop to rest and how long you spend exploring the cave and summit.
The trail information sign at the start of the hike says it will take 3 hours to complete however 1-2 hours is more accurate.
How High is Frenchman Peak?
Frenchman Peak has a height of 262 metres above sea level.
What Grade is the Frenchman Peak Hike?
The Frenchman Peak hike trail is classified as a grade 5 hike. Grade 5 hikes are only recommended for very experienced bushwalkers as grade 5 trails are often long, very rough and very steep.
Despite being a relatively short hike Frenchman Peak is a very steep trail up a rugged rock path which is what makes it a grade 5 hike.
Is Frenchman Peak Hard to Hike?
Despite being classified as a grade 5 hike, in the right conditions and for someone with good fitness, the Frenchman Peak hike is only moderately challenging. As a relatively short hike the difficulty just comes from the steepness of the trail.
In poor weather conditions an extra layer of difficulty is added to the hike. After wet weather the steep, rocky path becomes slippery making it even harder to climb. With high wind it becomes harder to balance and comfortably make your way up the trail. We’d recommend avoiding taking on the Frenchman Peak trail during poor weather conditions unless you’re a very experienced hiker.
As experienced hikers who took on the hike on a sunny, calm day we found the hike pretty easy.
Can Anyone Hike Frenchman Peak?
Yes, anyone with a moderate to high level of fitness and agility can do the Frenchman Peak hike. As mentioned before, the trail is extremely steep which means it would not be suitable for anyone with knee or leg issues.
Know your own limits, listen to your body and take your time.
Can Kids Hike Frenchman Peak?
Yes, kids can climb Frenchman Peak. As mentioned previously the trail is extremely steep and can be challenging. Therefore it wouldn’t be suitable for very young kids and is only suitable for older kids who have experience taking on difficult hikes.
Can Elderly People Hike Frenchman Peak?
Yes, older people can hike Frenchman Peak. As already discussed, the steepness of the trail means it isn’t suitable for anyone with knee or leg issues. Know your own limits and take your time.
Can you do the Frenchman Peak Hike Solo?
Yes the Frenchman Peak hike can be done solo. Anytime you take on a hike alone make sure to let someone else know of your whereabouts and how long you expect the trail to take.
When is the Best Time of Year to Hike Frenchman Peak?
The Frenchman Peak hike can be done any time of year. The best time of year to complete the hike is typically during spring (September-November). The Cape Le Grand National Park erupts with colour in spring as wildflowers bloom throughout the park, adding a whole new layer of beauty to the Frenchman Peak trail. Spring is also when the weather conditions are typically the best.
As mentioned before, in poor weather conditions the hike becomes significantly more difficult and at times dangerous, particularly during winter months. Therefore, we’d recommend keeping an eye on the weather forecast and not doing the trail when poor weather is forecasted.
At the other end of the spectrum, keep an eye on the weather forecast to avoid extremely hot days, particularly during summer months. The trail provides little to no coverage from the sun so can be overwhelmingly hot.
With that being said, we completed the hike during summer in February and the conditions were perfect. We started the hike early in the morning on a cooler day to avoid the heat. We also still saw some wildflowers.
What is the Best Time to Hike Frenchman Peak?
You can start the Frenchman Peak hike at any time. The best time to start will depend on what month you’re visiting. Pick a time when the weather is cooler but you still have great visibility to navigate your way through the trail.
On cooler days you can take on the hike at pretty much any time. If you’re doing it in Summer we’d recommend starting the hike early in the morning just after sunrise to avoid the extreme heat that hits by midday.
What Should I Expect on the Frenchman Peak Hike?
Expect a very steep but extremely rewarding hike, with incredible panoramic views on the summit and a huge cave to explore. The trail starts off as a flat dirt path that winds around the base of Frenchman Peak. You’ll also cross over a short wooden boardwalk. Early on in the trail there are also informational signs on the history of Frenchman Peak.
After looping around the base, you’ll reach the other side of the mountain. At this point you’ll go off the dirt path and will start making your way up the rocky terrain of Frenchman Peak. Greeted by a very wonky sign will prepare you for the steepness ahead.
Almost immediately you’re on an extremely steep incline which is quite a jarring change from the flat, comfortable path that you started out on. This is where the challenge begins.
Besides some slight turns the steep incline section of the trail is mostly straight up the side of the mountain. It feels like you’ve been chasing trail markers for ages until you finally reach a cave. The cave is massive, take some time to appreciate its impressive size and the beautiful view looking out from it.
Once you’re ready to move on you’ll only have a short section of steep incline until you reach the summit. At the summit you’ll have incredible 360 degree views of the Cape Le Grand National Park. Take some time to soak it in before heading back down. When you do decide to head down take your time and be careful. For some of the steeper areas it may be easier to scoot down on your bum or use your hands to help you climb down.
How Much does it Cost to Hike Frenchman Peak?
Frenchman Peak is within the Cape Le Grand National Park which has park entry fees. At the time of writing this (February 2023) the price is $15 per standard vehicle (with 12 or less occupants).
If you’re visiting multiple national parks during your trip we would recommend getting a holiday pass or an annual all parks pass as these will be better value for money. Holiday passes are available for 5 days, 14 days or 4 weeks and annual all parks passes are available for a full year. You can buy these online (here) on the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions website.
Are there Toilets at Frenchman Peak?
No, there are no toilets at the Frenchman Peak trail. The nearest toilets are at Lucky Bay which is a short 7 minute drive away from the Frenchman Peak car park.
Are there Any Other Facilities at Frenchman Peak?
Frenchman Peak does not have many facilities. It only has a small picnic area with a single picnic bench next to the car park.
Do you Need a Map for Frenchman Peak?
No you don’t need a map as the Frenchman Peak trail is easy to navigate. The start of the trail is a set dirt path that is surrounded by bushland making it obvious where to go. When you reach the base of Frenchman Peak and start the incline up to the summit the path is less clear but there are frequent trail markers guiding you where to go.
Is Frenchman Peak Dog Friendly?
Sadly no dogs (or other pets) are allowed in the Cape Le Grand National Park so you’ll have to leave your pets at home if you plan on taking on the Frenchman Peak trail.
Is there Phone Reception at Frenchman Peak?
Yes there is. We didn’t have signal in the car park but we had perfect Telstra signal on the trail and at the summit.
Is the Road to Frenchman Peak Sealed?
Yes, Lucky Bay Road (the road that leads up to the Frenchman Peak car park) is a sealed road. The car park itself is also sealed.
Is there Parking at Frenchman Peak?
Yes there is parking at the base of Frenchman Peak where the trail starts. The car park is sealed and has space for around 15 cars. There are no long bays however our LWB Mercedes Sprinter van was fine fitting in one of the normal parking bays.
Where is Frenchman Peak?
Frenchman Peak is located in the Cape Le Grand National Park in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia.
How do you Get to Frenchman Peak?
There is no public transport nearby so you will need to drive to get to Frenchman Peak. The trail starts just off the Frenchman Peak carpark so make sure to navigate to ‘Frenchman Peak Carpark’ in Google Maps (link is here). Navigating to ‘Frenchman Peak’ would try and navigate you to the summit.
How Far is Frenchman Peak from Perth?
Frenchman Peak is approximately 749km from Perth, which is about a 8-9 hour drive away (depending on traffic and which route you take).
How Far is Frenchman Peak from Esperance?
Frenchman Peak is approximately 57km from the Esperance town centre, which is about a 45 minute drive away (depending on traffic and which route you take).
How Far is Frenchman Peak from Norseman?
Frenchman Peak is approximately 253km from Norseman, which is about a 2.5-3 hour drive away (depending on traffic and which route you take).
How Far is Frenchman Peak from Albany?
Frenchman Peak is approximately 533km from Albany, which is about a 5.5-6 hour drive away (depending on traffic and which route you take).
Where does the Frenchman Peak Trail Start?
The Frenchman Peak trail starts close to the Frenchman Peak car park. Next to the car park is a small picnic area, the trail start is beside this, you’ll be able to see it as soon as you arrive. There is a trail information sign and a dieback warning sign at the start of the trail which shares information on the trail and how to stop the spread of dieback.
What Should you Pack When Hiking Frenchman Peak?
We recommend packing the following for the Frenchman Peak hike:
- An epipen – feral bees are common in the area and there are several hives near the trail. Therefore if you are allergic to bees you are advised not to walk the trail unless you are carrying a supply of antihistamines and an Epipen (depending on your level of allergy).
- Water – take at least 1L per person per hour.
- Snacks – pack snacks for an energy boost along the way.
- A first aid kit – no matter the length or difficulty of the hike, always pack a small first aid kit with some basic supplies.
- A hat – protect your face, head, neck and ears with a hat.
- Sunscreen – stay sun smart.
- A camera – pack your camera or phone to take pictures of the incredible views at the summit and cave of Frenchman Peak.
What Should you Wear When Hiking Frenchman Peak?
Make sure to wear trainers or hiking boots that have good grip so you are sturdy when going up steep sections. Also wear clothes that you are comfortable hiking in, ensure they are flexible so you’re not limited in steeper sections where you need to be more agile.
As with any hike, be sun smart; cover up, wear a hat and put sunscreen on, no matter the weather conditions.
Why is Frenchman Peak Called Frenchman Peak?
Frenchman Peak got it’s name from surveyor Alexander Forrest who believed the shape of the peak looked like the hats that were worn by French troops in the 1800s.
What is the Aboriginal Name for Frenchman Peak?
The Aboriginal name for Frenchman Peak is Mandooboornup.
What is the Aboriginal Story for Frenchman Peak?
There’s a sign on the Frenchman Peak trail that tells the Walich Dreaming story. The story explains that there were two eagles (walich) who flew down to Esperance (Keppa Kurl) from inland and landed in Cape Le Grand (Mandoowernup). The mother eagle made a nest and laid her eggs here while the father flew off to look for food at Stokes Inlet (Benwenerup).
A group of Aboriginal people were camped near the mother eagle and one day, two children from the camp went off on walkabout against their parents wishes. Their parents told them to stay in the camp with the elders while the parents went out hunting for food but they didn’t listen. The two children came across the nest of the eagle and stole her eggs, taking them back to the camp.
When the mother eagle saw her eggs missing she caught the two children, picked them up and dropped them out to sea. Every time the children swam back to shore the mother eagle would pick them up and drop them out at sea again.
There are two rocks offshore which are said to be the children and Mandooboornup (Frenchman Peak) is said to be the mother eagle who watches the sea in case the children try to come back. The water that seeps from the peak is said to be the tears of the parents who are crying for their children.
Enjoy the Frenchman Peak Hike!
That’s it! We hope you found our guide on everything you need to know about the Frenchman Peak hike helpful. Have an amazing time and enjoy the hike.
Watch Our Experience Hiking Frenchman Peak
If you’re interested you can watch our experience hiking Frenchman Peak in our YouTube video below.