From beaches to mountains, from rainforest to bushland
8 Best Sunshine Coast Walks & Hikes
In South East Queensland a lot of the most famous and popular hikes are in the Gold Coast Hinterland or up in the Scenic Rim, however, the Sunshine Coast has a great wealth of walks and hikes. These include mountains, valleys, beaches, coastal regions and more. There are challenging multi-day walks and easy strolls. Here are the ones on my must do list.
This guide will take you from long wide beaches, up coastal cliffs, through bushland and rainforest, to spectacular waterfalls and swimming holes, down into valleys, up to lookouts and to the tops of unique hills. The Sunshine Coast is definitely a location worth exploring whether you like casual strolls or challenging hikes.
There are many walks on the Sunshine Coast that lead to nice swimming beaches
Let's start with the loveliest little walk in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland that is Mapleton Falls. The car park is right next to the lookout. While there are great views from there down the valley, it only has okay views of the falls itself.
If you want to do a little walking, then you can take on the 1.2 km Wompoo Circuit. It doesn't really go anywhere, but it a nice little forest stroll. There is a picnic area near the lookout and of course, there is the lookout itself.
If you are off to the Sunshine Coast, then you will want to do some coastal walking. The best place for this is the Noosa Heads National Park. This great national park has a lovely walk through coastal bushland and along the coastal cliffs. We normally walk from the Noosa end of the national park, so that we finish the circuit at Tea Tree Bay for a swim.
The walk starts at the end of Park Road in Noosa. It is a good idea to arrive early to find a parking spot at the Noosa National Park Carpark. Then you start by following the Tanglewood Track through bushland around to Alexandria Bay.
Alexandria is South East Queensland's unofficial nudist beach
The track ends at Alexandria Bay, South East Queensland's unofficial nudist beach. If you started walking from Sunshine Beach in the south of the national park, the best path means you have to walk along this clothing optional beach (feel free to keep your clothes on, or take them off, whatever makes you comfortable.)
From Alexandria Bay. the walk follows the cliff tops via the Coast Track back to the start. You will see people walking this track with surfboards looking for the perfect break.
Overall this is a 5 to 6 km walk, but it is possible to do much longer walks by continuing on to Sunshine Beach or walking other bushland tracks.
Bribie Island Beach Walk
Speaking of coastal and beach walks, despite the many beaches on the Sunshine coast, the Bribie Island beach walk stands out as the best. The walk goes 8 kms from Bongaree around the southern end of the island to Woorim. You can then walk 5 kms back along a bushy path that follows the road. There is also a bus that goes along the same road from Woorim to Bongaree.
Both Bongaree and Woorim have little villages with pubs, great restaurants, cafes and takeaway shops. You can swim at both places, with Bongaree having the quiet waters of Pumicestone Passage and Woorim the surf (and surf life savers).
I love this walk because on one side you have ocean and on the other bushland. While there are roads that lead down to the beach at various spots (which means there are places where you will find plenty of people) for much of the walk, you won't see anyone.
For dog lovers, most of the beach allows you to let your dog off the leash. So yes, you will encounter lots of dog walkers on this walk. This walk is just one more reason to head out to Bribie Island.
The Glass House Mountains is the Sunshine Coast's most dramatic feature. All the mountains except Mt Coonowrin can he hiked or climbed, though the level of challenge differs between the mountains. For a hiker, the one mountain you should walk up is Mt Ngungun.
The Glass House Mountains has many hills you can walk or climb up
A 2.8 km trail winds up and around this hill to make the 253 m climb to the summit. The walk is not overly difficult and is the right balance between adventure and fun with great views at the top. But check out some of the other hills in the Glass House Mountains if you want something easier or more challenging.
Few people hike the entire Gheerulla Valley Circuit. Those that do are usually hiking the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. The circuit follows the creek down in the valley as well as the ridge overlooking the valley. With several camping sites around the circuit, many people do it as an overnight hike.
If you want to do a day trip, then there is the valley trail that follows the Gheerulla Creek that starts at the end of Sam Kelly Road at the Gheerulla camping and trail bike area. From that same starting point, you can also take a right turn on the trail and walk up the ridge to the top of the valley and the Thilba Thalba viewpoint.
The walk through the Gheerulla Valley follows the creek
For a walk along the ridge, you start along Delicia Road and walk to the Thilba Thalba Walkers Camp and back. The best part of this walk is that you can make it a circuit by following the dirt road that runs parallel to the hiking trail back.
This hiking trail doesn't have a name but is only referred to officially as the Baroon Section of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. This is one of the most beautiful and varied walks you can do and includes the dam lake, Obi Obi Creek, two great swimming holes and a spectacular falls, along with varied vegetation.
It is also a fairly challenging walk to complete in total. The walk is 11 kms from entrance to entrance, which makes a total of 22 kms for a return walk. However, it is possible to do small sections of the walk or have a friend pick up at the other end.
The best walk is the Kondalilla Falls walk, while the Baroon Lookout Walk is a lovely hike at the other end. If you want a 10-11 km return walk, then start at either end and walk to Flat Rock. Flat Rock itself is not signposted, but it is basically a big flat rocky outcrop by Obi Obi Creek half-way between the two entrances, so you can't really miss it. It is a perfect place to stop for lunch and go for a swim.
If you are looking for a fairly standard walk on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, then the Somerset Trail is a popular option. This 13 km return walk starts at the Gantry picnic area and goes to the spectacular Somerset lookout.
The Gantry is an old saw mill, which now sits unused. The surrounding area has been turned into a popular barbecue and picnic area.
The walk passes through gum forests, rainforest and patches of more open forest. The area abounds with native wildflowers, so keep a lookout for those. Winter is often the best time to find native flowers in South East Queensland, but different species flower at various times of the year.
This walk is another section of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk and is not often visited. The walk is not long but still a little challenging as it heads down the valley to Baxter Creek and Baxter Falls.
There are two entrances to this hike, one on Flaxton Mill Road and the other at Suses Pocket Road. Both entrances are clearly marked. The distance to the falls is about the same from both entrances and is probably a 3-4 km return walk. The track from Flaxton Mill Road might be a little steeper, but there is a longer flat section at the top.
If you prefer a longer walk, you can start at Flaxton Mill Road, walk down to the falls, cross the suspension bridge and then walk up the other side to the road. After that, follow the well-maintained footpath to Mapleton Falls. This is a return walk of over 12 kms in total.