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Forest Trail Exploring in South D'Aguilar National Park

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published October 20th 2019
Explore the national park that starts in Brisbane's Suburbs
Exploring Brisbane's Forest Park

South D'Aguilar National park extends from the back hills of Mount Coot-tha up to Mt Nebo and Mt Glorius as well as extending west to Lake Manchester. Before becoming a national park it was a forest park and so is crisscrossed by numerous forest and fire trails, often with few signposts. But with a little exploring, you can visit 3 lakes, hike to lookouts other people drive to, scramble up peaks and find secret lookouts, explore links to designated hiking tracks and make your way up Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious, with camping locations. There is even accessibility by public transportation to some of the hikes.

South D'Aguilar National Park has many forest and fire trails to explore
South D'Aguilar National Park has many forest and fire trails to explore


About Forest and Fire Trails in South D'Aguilar National Park

A forest trail is a well-maintained path that makes for easy walking, while fire trails and fire breaks exist mostly for firefighting and can be much steeper, rougher and poorly maintained. The forest trails tend to have some signposts while the fire trails have none.

Forest trails are well maintained and usually easy to hike
Forest trails are well maintained and usually easy to hike


For South D'Aguilar National Park it is hard to find good maps, with some maps of the forest trails and Google Maps covering the rest. However, I have walked in well-defined trails that I am unable to find on any maps, even topographical ones. While I am sure there are some maps out there with all the details, sometimes you have to resort to identifying them on through Google Maps Satellite images or just exploring and see where they go.

Fire trails are usually poorly maintained, rough and often steep
Fire trails are usually poorly maintained, rough and often steep


Ultimately there are so many trails that even people who are not normally interested in fire trail hiking are attracted to the exploration factor of South D'Aguilar National Park. What is listed in this article are the highlights that you can visit by following fire and forest trails that I know about.

Lakes

The most easily accessible, scenic and popular part of South D'Aguilar National Park is hiking the various lakes. Strictly speaking, these are not part of the National Park but are instead on Seqwater land, but that distinction is a minor one.

The most popular lake to hike around is Enoggera Reservoir. The Araucaria Track covers is 5 km hiking track that visits a small part of the lake and surrounds. For a more interesting walk, there is a 12 km walk around the lake following Reservoir Break. Strictly speaking, you can't walk all around the lake the need to divert onto suburban streets for a short distance. However, locals just walk over the dam through areas that are officially fenced off, but which doesn't stop anyone.

Enoggera Reservoir is a great place for hiking and other activities
Enoggera Reservoir is a great place for hiking and other activities


Gold Creek Reservoir is an interesting spot to visit, with some historical dam artefacts on display. You can also do a 5 km walk about the lake. This shorter walk is mostly on hiking tracks with some links on forest trails. Some of the tracks are steep, but because the overall distance is fairly short, it is easy enough for most levels of fitness to complete.

Gold Creek Reservoir seen from the hiking circuit
Gold Creek Reservoir seen from the hiking circuit


For those looking for something a little longer, the 17 km walk around Lake Manchester is worth doing. Like Enoggera, these are forest trails running around the lake. Some areas are steep as they go up and down ridges, but well worth doing.

Walking the trail around Lake Manchester
Walking the trail around Lake Manchester


You can also walk between the lakes along various fire trails. It is possible to do a day walk that starts at Enoggera Dam and heads out to Gold Creek and returns. Other times people might get a lift, or catch a taxi or Uber to Gold Creek Reservoir and then walk to Enoggera, then head home by bus.

Lookouts

Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious have a number of lookouts you can drive to. But several of these can be hiked to along fire and forest trails. A shorter one is Camp Mountain Lookout, which you can walk to from a couple of different starting points. One of my favourites is to start at the end of the Samford Valley and head up the steep fire trail to the lookout, and then walk about down. You can also walk to this lookout from Bellbird Grove.

Camp Mountain Lookout is linked to the Samford Valley and Bellbird Grove by forest trails
Camp Mountain Lookout is linked to the Samford Valley and Bellbird Grove by forest trails


You can hike to Jolly's Lookout from a number of different starting points along various trails. If you started from the Scrub Road entrance and walked up Scrub Road until you came to the Thylogale Walking Track and then headed to Jolly's Lookout, it would be 10.5 kms one way, making it a 21 km return walk.

The view from Jolly's Lookout
The view from Jolly's Lookout


You can also walk to McAfee's Lookout. It is 8.3 km from the Gold Creek Reservoir car park. While that is 16.6 km return, some people might want to make a longer loop to also go around Gold Creek Reservoir.

McAfees lookout can also be reached via forest and fire trails
McAfees lookout can also be reached via forest and fire trails


Using Mt Nebo Break, which follows beside Mt Nebo Road, you could also do a 12 km circuit that includes McAfee's Lookout and Camp Mountain Lookout, as well as Bellbrid Grove. The name of the game here is exploring the various tracks.

Mountain Peaks

Along with the lookouts that you can also reach by car, there are also a few mountain peak lookouts worth hiking up. The best is Mermaid Mountain. This is accessible from several starting points and provides great views of Lake Manchester and surrounding bushland.

Enjoying the view from the top of Mermaid Mountain
Enjoying the view from the top of Mermaid Mountain


There are several ways to walk to Mermaid Mountain with 20 km return hikes from both Gold Creek Reservoir and Lake Manchester, as well as a shorter 12 km route with a starting point off Lake Manchester Road. There are other possible routes and hikes using different starting points or trails.

Another mountain peak that is easier to hike to than Mermaid Mountain is Northbrook Mountain. This is a 10 km hike along Lawton Road. The trail ends at the Northbrook Mountain Campground and then the peak with views is another 500 m beyond that point. There is also an unmarked track you can follow that links to Lawton Road which can make this part of a circuit.

Fitness Walks

There are plenty of tracks that don't really lead anywhere but are great walks in themselves and popular among people trying to improve their hiking fitness. A lot of hikers doing this will simply explore a circuit, but below are a couple of recommendations.

One great walk is the Scrub Road & Black Soil Track Loop which is about 15 kms that combines both forest and fire trails. Some areas of this walk are very steep on poorly maintained fire trails.

Hiking up Black Soil Road for fitness
Hiking up Black Soil Road for fitness


Another great one is a circuit following Westridge Break. The shorter version is 10 kms, with a long steep section heading down, followed by a long steep section heading up. This is the track that really pushes hikers looking to greatly improve their fitness.

Heading up Side Break for fun and fitness
Heading up Side Break for fun and fitness


Camping

There are also a number of camping sites. Most of the sites are just bush camps and feature a picnic shelter, rainwater tanks and not much else. These campsites tend to attract people who want to give their new gear a shakedown or who just want to get out into the bush for the night.

Camp sites in South D'Aguilar National Park include water tanks and picnic shelters
Camp sites in South D'Aguilar National Park include water tanks and picnic shelters


On Mount Nebo, there are 4 campsites, including Scrub Road Bush Camp, which is about 15 kms from Enoggera Reservoir, so it is actually accessible by public transport. Of course, you can take a shorter walk to this camp from other starting points. Also on Mt Nebo are the Light Line Road Bush Camp and Dundas Bush Camp.

The nicer campsites are up on Mt Glorious and including North, Middle and South Kobble Bush Camps, and England Creek Bush Camp, which are not far from creeks. Northbrook Mountain Bush Camp is on a ridge and 15 minutes walk from the summit, which provides great views.

Further exploring

I have focused only on fire and forest trail exploring in South D'Aguilar National Park. Even so, I have not been able to cover everything in South D'Aguilar National Park. In fact, there are likely to be more locations and secrets I have yet to discover.

There are also many designation hiking tracks which can be more interesting for the casual hiker. I have already mentioned the Thylogale Walking Track, but there are also walks like the Morelia Track at Manorina and Greene's Falls.

The Morelia Track is just one of the designated walking tracks
The Morelia Track is just one of the designated walking tracks


There are also some unofficial trails as well as off-trail hiking. Two highlights is the walk to find the Piper Commanche Plane Wreck on Mt Glorious and rock hopping up Cedar Creek.

There area number of rough and ready non-official hiking tracks in South D'Aguilar National Park
There area number of rough and ready non-official hiking tracks in South D'Aguilar National Park


South D'Aguilar National Park is a great resource but beyond the designated hiking tracks, most people don't explore much further. But with lakes, trails, tracks, bushland, rainforest, plane wrecks, numerous lookouts, peaks and camping, it is a destination well worth visiting. The forest and fire trails are a great opportunity to put together your own hikes and discover things.
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Why? Explore the national park that starts in Brisbane's Suburbs
Where: South D'Aguilar National Park
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