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The 5 Most Iconic Hikes in South East Queensland

Home > Brisbane > Adventure | National Parks | Nature | Outdoor | Walks | Lists
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published October 5th 2017
These are the hikes that are special and unique to SEQ
The 5 Most Iconic Hikes in South East Queensland
There are certain hikes that stand out for their uniqueness and come to symbolise the region that there are in. They might not even be the most popular hike in the area, but are truly special and worth doing.

Bare Rock provides iconic views of the Scenic Rim
Bare Rock provides iconic views of the Scenic Rim


Below is a list of iconic hikes in South East Queensland. They include the easy through to some of the toughest day hikes in the area. All are worth doing.

Waterfalls in rainforests are one of the best features of hiking in South East Queensland
Waterfalls in rainforests are one of the best features of hiking in South East Queensland


Mt Coot-tha

Let's start with the obvious one. Nothing quite says Brisbane like Mt Coot-tha and the views from the summit. You don't have to hike to the top, you can instead just drive or take the bus, but where is the fun in that?

Mt Coot-tha summit
Mt Coot-tha summit


While there are many walks up, over and around Mt Coot-tha, the most iconic walk is the Summit Track and Aboriginal Art Trail. This unique walk was constructed in 1988 and features a number of aboriginal artworks with the main gallery being at JC Slaughter Falls.

Hiking at Mt Coot-Tha
Hiking at Mt Coot-Tha


There are several other locations worth hiking to on Mt Coot-tha. These include the old gold mine, the Bush Chapel and Simpsons Falls. There are enough trails on the mountain for hours of hiking.

Aboriginal Art is one of the many attractions to hike to see at Mt Coot-Tha
Aboriginal Art is one of the many attractions to hike to see at Mt Coot-Tha


Box Forest Circuit

The ideal hike in South East Queensland should include rainforest, waterfalls and swimming holes. Of all the hikes around South East Queensland, the best for all of these three things has to be the Box Forest Circuit at O'Reilly's in Lamington National Park.

One of many beautiful waterfalls on the Box Forest Circuit
One of many beautiful waterfalls on the Box Forest Circuit


The great little 10 km hike usually takes longer than you might expect, simply because of the large number of waterfalls to stop and enjoy. For swimming, most people have a dip at the cascades.

The Cascades on the Box Forest Circuit
The Cascades on the Box Forest Circuit


Of course, if you want something a little longer, then in the same area you can walk the West Canungra Creek Circuit or Toolona Creek Circuit. Anyone of these tracks will take you through the rainforest to swimming holes and waterfalls.

Mt Ngungun in the Glass House Mountains

The Glass House Mountains were named by Captain Cook himself. When he was sailing past the coast, he saw a number of rugged peaks and they reminded him of the chimneys of the glass factories back home. These remains of volcanic cores are a unique and signature part of South East Queensland.

The Glass House Mountains is an iconic location in South East Queensland
The Glass House Mountains is an iconic location in South East Queensland


For a hike, the best peak to head up is Mt Ngungun. While the track winds it way steadily up the hill, it is not difficult for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. Nor is it dangerous unless you don't pay attention to the cliff edges.

The top of Mt Ngungun has a rocky plateau with great views of the surrounding hills
The top of Mt Ngungun has a rocky plateau with great views of the surrounding hills


The top gives great views of the surrounding area and in particular, Mt Coonowring and Mt Beerwah. Hiking up Ngungun is well worth the effort and you may think of trying some of the other hills as well. Though be aware, some are much more difficult and dangerous.

Bare Rock at Cunningham's Gap

West of Brisbane is a semicircle of mountains known as the scenic rim. Nothing quite sums up this range than the view from Bare Rock where you can see the mountains curving away from you to the north in a dramatic wave. This great hike gives you views of the area worth walking to see.

Bare Rock provides a great view of the mountains that lay west of Brisbane
Bare Rock provides a great view of the mountains that lay west of Brisbane


The hike starts at Cunninghams Gap and heads up past Mt Cordeaux. While not a difficult hike, the path is gently sloping upwards so it can be a little tiring to reach the top. The view though is the payoff for the effort. Though you can do just the shorter hike to Mt Cordeaux, this lacks the dramatic view of the ranges.

Another iconic spot on the walk is Mt Cordeaux
Another iconic spot on the walk is Mt Cordeaux


If you need more views of the mountain, walk across the road and hike up Mt Mitchell, which provides views of the ranges to the north. Most fitter hikers try and do both hikes on the same day.

Mt Mitchell as seen from Mt Cordeaux
Mt Mitchell as seen from Mt Cordeaux


Palm Trees in the Rainforest

One of the most special features of hiking in South East Queensland is finding pockets of palm trees in the middle of a rainforest. These trees tend to dominate rocky areas near creeks and streams where they are better suited to grow than other rainforest trees who prefer the deep rich rainforest soil.

Palm trees in the middle of a rainforest says
Palm trees in the middle of a rainforest says "I am in South East Queensland"


There are several places around South East Queensland where you find lovely pockets of palm trees. Rather than list one specific hike for palm trees, I will list a range from the easy to the more challenging.

Palm trees in the middle of a rainforest says
Palm trees in the middle of a rainforest says "I am in South East Queensland"


My favourite short hike for palm tries is the Wompoo Circuit at Mapleton Falls. The ambience and domination of the palm trees around the creek above Mapleton Falls makes this the best palm tree walk. This is truly a palm tree forest.

The Wompoo Circuit at Mapleton Falls
The Wompoo Circuit at Mapleton Falls


Mt Tamborine provides some of the easiest rainforest walks in one of the more accessible and civilised locations. For example, The Knoll Section walk wends its way along both sides of Sandy Creek where palm trees abound.

The Sandy Creek Track at The Knoll on Mt Tamborine
The Sandy Creek Track at The Knoll on Mt Tamborine


In Lamington National Park, the walk that takes you through pockets of palm trees is the Lower Bellbird Circuit at Binna Burra which leads down to the bottom of Ballanjui Falls. As this track descends from the mountain and passes through a range of different forests, from rainforests through to gum trees, and of course, you will find palm trees interspersed along the way.

Palm Tree on the Lower Ballanjiu Falls Track
Palm Tree on the Lower Ballanjiu Falls Track


Possibly the best walk for palm trees is Mt Greville. Unlike the other walks, the surrounding area here is bushland not rainforest, but the gorges that you use to ascend and descend the mountain are filled with palm trees reaching up the side of the cliffs to seek the light. My preference is to go up Waterfall Gorge and come down Palm Gorge. Palm trees are plentiful in both gorges.

Palm Trees in Waterfall Gorge at Mt Greville
Palm Trees in Waterfall Gorge at Mt Greville


Mt Maroon

While Mt Maroon doesn't really stand out in any really specific way, it is the view from the top that takes in a number of great mountains that most adventurous hikers will be able to recognise. At the summit, you are surrounded by Mt Barney, Mt Lindesay and off to the south across the border, you can see Mt Warning.

The view from Mt Maroon
The view from Mt Maroon


The return hike to the summit and back is only 6 kms, but you can expect for it to take 4-5 hours depending on your level of fitness. The main challenge is heading up the gorge. This scramble is not too difficult and unlike most climbs, you are not exposed on the side of a cliff, but going up a path in among rocks, bushes and trees.

Mt Maroon is a great but challenging hike
Mt Maroon is a great but challenging hike


The view from the top is well worth the effort and is something everyone should have on their bucket list. Once you have done this hike you might consider of the more challenging hikes in the area.
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Why? Find the unique and special hikes in South East Queensland
Cost: All hikes listed here are free
Your Comment
Always enjoy your bushwalking reviews. Shall head out to Mt Greville early Nov. Thank you for the insightful tips.
by kingb (score: 1|18) 7 days ago
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