Only 30 kms from the Brisbane CBD, Lake Manchester is a lovely, but not often visited, bushland area easily accessible from Brisbane. Like other SEQWATER run areas there are plans to expand their usage, but is currently restricted to picnic and barbecue areas, hiking, horse riding, mountain biking fishing and non-motorised water craft.
The hiking circuit of the trail is advertised as being 17 kms, but our GPS tracked it at 18 kms. With several steep ridges to ascend and descend the circuit is a great hike for people looking for a longer hike. If that puts you off then why not just do the first few kilometers of the track along the lake. It is a picturesque and easy walk alongside the lake shore.
Note: This is an 18 km poorly marked fire trail that backs on to a large area of National Park. Taking a wrong turn could leave you very lost. There are not many intersections and most have a sign of some sort. It is also easy enough to keep the lake on one side as you do the walk. Compared with some other hikes in the area, I think this is a very easy to follow track.
The tracks are not well shaded so take a hat and plenty of water. The other issue is creek crossing. Even though we went after recent rain the creeks were not a problem, but I have seen photos that show flooded creeks. So be aware of water levels when trying to cross creeks.
With circuits the most important question is whether to follow the track in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Our philosophy is always to leave the most beautiful sections to the end of the hike. With Lake Manchester this means following the track in a counterclockwise manner. This also puts most of the difficult sections near the end of the hike.
The start of the circuit is at the Lake Manchester day use parking area. If you just want to look at the dam, go on a short stroll or hike the circuit clockwise, then keep walking past the parking lot in the direction of the dam.
To hike in a counterclockwise manner you need to walk back up the road to Lake Manchester Road and follow it back for a short distance. The first turn off on your left is where the hike starts.
The first half of the walk is pretty straight forward with gently sloping ridges that are a pretty good workout but not too strenuous. However this section of the hike only provides a small number views. But there are places to rest along the lake shore as you go.
The last part of the hike takes you down paths that go along the lake. This section is definitely the best lake hiking in the Brisbane area and if you don't want to do 18 kms, it is well worth visiting in its own right. Once you see the dam you know you are near the end.