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Spotted Gum Trail: Botanic Gardens to Mt Coot-tha

Home > Brisbane > Outdoor | Nature | Lookouts | Adventure | Walks
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published June 4th 2020
Walk from the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens to the Summit
The Brisbane City Council has been working hard over the years to add new paths, routes, circuits and facilities in the Mt Coot-tha Reserve. The latest is the Spotted Gum Trail, which provides a new walking path from the Botanic Gardens up to Mt Coot-tha Summit.

The top entrance to the Spotted Gum Trail
The top entrance to the Spotted Gum Trail


About the trail

Not that long ago, the council built the Citriodora Trail which lead from the back of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens on the side of Mt Coot-tha, which took you to paths leading to the summit. This wide and rough trail proved popular but was mostly on fire trails, so it was no ideal.

The Citriadora Trail was the first track constructed to let people walk from the botanic gardens to The Summit
The Citriadora Trail was the first track constructed to let people walk from the botanic gardens to The Summit


The new trail runs 2.4 kms from halfway along the Citriodora Trail up to the Lookout. In addition, you need to walk 1.3 kms through the Botanic Gardens. So the total distance is closer to 4 kms than the misleading reports from the council that it is just a 2.4 kms walk.

The trail is a reasonably easy walk, but you are heading up Mt Coot-tha and there are lots of steps (250 of them). It is not the hardest track up to the summit, but the Honeyeater Track from Chapel Hill or the Summit Track from the JC Slaughter Falls Picnic Area are easier walks. So you will need a reasonable level of fitness to tackle this walk.

Some of the many steps in the Spotted Gum Trail
Some of the many steps in the Spotted Gum Trail


But remember, there is a bus linking the summit to the Botanic Gardens every 20 minutes or so. This means you can easily walk it one way and bus it back.

Quick guide to options in walking the trail

Thanks to the poor signage and information from the Brisbane City Council, people are not sure the best way to do a complete walk of the trail. Many people walk it as a return work. Which will be about 8 kms.

A better option for most people will be to walk up or down, and use the free shuttle bus to return to where you started from. I ran into several walkers on the trail who didn't realise this was an option.

There is a shuttle bus from between the two ends of the walk
There is a shuttle bus from between the two ends of the walk


A nice circuit would be to walk up the Spotted Gum Trail, then walk back down the Summit Track and then along the footpath by the road back to the gardens. This makes a great tourist route.

One option for a circuit is to use the Summit Track to return to your starting point
One option for a circuit is to use the Summit Track to return to your starting point


Another circuit that returns you to the back of the Botanic Gardens, is to walk up the Spotted Gum Trail, then walk back via the Mahogany Trail then onto the Citriadora Trail. If you are not tired, you can explore more of the Botanic Gardens.

For people trying to get the most exercise then the best way is, starting from the Botanic Gardens, to walk up the Lookout Trail, then down the Spotted Gum Trail. Given that the Lookout Trail is a very long steep track, this is something most casual walkers will want to avoid.

For the fit looking to exercise, combine the Lookout Trail and the Spotted Gum Trail
For the fit looking to exercise, combine the Lookout Trail and the Spotted Gum Trail


People accessing the walk via public transportation might want to cross the mountain. A great way to do this is to Walk up the Spotted Gum Trail and then down the other side of the mountain via the Honeyeater Track.

From the summit, there are lots of other trails you can connect to. Now that the council has put in more linking tracks, you could spend most of the day just walking around the mountain. This is something lots of people trying to build their hiking fitness like to do.

Walking the Track

For most people, it is most interesting to walk up the track. The starting point for most people will be the Brisbane Botanic Gardens on the side of Mt Coot-tha. Driving is easy, but remember later in the day it is hard to find parking, though there is also parking across the road. There are buses to the gardens as well with the main bus running to and from the city.

Walkthrough the main entrance to the Botanic Gardens. The start of the walk is at the back of the Gardens. The Brisbane City Council claims the bottom of the garden, but as you have to walk up to get the back of the gardens, this makes little sense.

The entrance to The Brisbane Botanic Gardens
The entrance to The Brisbane Botanic Gardens


There are plenty of ways to walk through the gardens, but the quickest way is to turn right once you are through the main entrance and follow the road around. When they opened the Citriadora Trail they added in some temporary signage telling you which way to walk to the summit, that is now all gone. There is some temporary signage for the Spotted Gum Trail.

The easiest way is to follow the main road through the Botanic Gardens
The easiest way is to follow the main road through the Botanic Gardens


Follow the road around. It will pass the Brisbane Lookout. This is the viewing platform within the gardens themselves and you can get a good view of the city from here. It is definitely worth stopping in on the way to up the mountain as you can walk into the looking platform from one end, then leave via the other end and still be on the path to the Spotted Gum Trail.

The road continues around to an area of the gardens many people don't visit or even know is there. This section has a lake and is dedicated to Australian plants. The quickest way is to keep on the road until you get to the gate at the back of the gardens.

The gate at the back of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens
The gate at the back of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens


Once through the gates, you are on the Citriodora Trail. Turn right and follow this up the mountain. This was the original trail opened for walkers to head up to the summit. Halfway along this trail, you will come to the Spotted Gum Trail on the left.

The start of the Spotted Gum Trail off the Citriadora Trail
The start of the Spotted Gum Trail off the Citriadora Trail


The trail is a wide flat trail. At the time of writing this, you can still see some of the old hiking club pink ribbons and paint marking the informal track that used to be here. You will also see some remnants of the original trail as well. The Spotted Gum Trail replaces this with a wide flat trail that cuts through the side of the hill, with bridges, steps and other features to make the walk more accessible. The trail is not an easy tourist stroll, but a decent and very accessible walking track.

The trail has been well constructed with steps and bridges to overcome obstacles
The trail has been well constructed with steps and bridges to overcome obstacles


As you walk along the track you will see a number of sidetracks. Most of these are informal walking paths. There are also 2 formal tracks. One is the Frogmouth Trail, which was been changed from a mountain bike only trail to a multi-use trail. The other one is the very steep Lookout Trail.

Throughout most of the track, there is not much to see other than the beautiful bushland that makes up the side of Mt Coot-tha. However, near the end of the walk, you start to get glimpses of the suburbs and Brisbane River through the trees.

You get glimpses of the Brisbane River through the trees on the walk
You get glimpses of the Brisbane River through the trees on the walk


The Spotted Gum Trail passes just under the Summit Lookout and ends at the car park very near the summit. The Mt Coot-tha Summit Lookout is a nice place to sit and relax and enjoy the view. The cafe is also a nice place to enjoy a coffee, drink or snack after the long walk up.

Enjoying the view from The Summit
Enjoying the view from The Summit


Nearby you will find the bus stop for the shuttle bus which can take you back to the start of the walk. Alternatively, you can head back down the way you came up or try one of the many other trails.

Overall

The Spotted Gum Trail is a great addition to the tracks on Mt Coot-tha. It has already proved to be very popular. Unfortunately, the Brisbane City Council has continued its tradition of providing both poor signage and information about the track. So most people are not aware of the different walking options or even how difficult the walk is. Having said that, I have seen lots of families with young kids happily enjoying this hike, so as long as you have a reasonable level of fitness and are not a rush, you can do this walk.
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Why? Walk from the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens to the Summit
When: The gate between the Brisbane Botanic Gardens and the track open between 9 am and 4 pm. However the track itself is open 24 hours
Where: Start at either the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha or the Mt Coot-tha Summit
Your Comment
Excellent article - just the information we have been seeking from the BCC. The BCC is not alone in the poor signage and information arena. The Ipswich City Council rates a fail for the signage and information re the Flinders-Goolman Conservation Estate. which I walked last week. My husband and I consider ourselves reasonably competent map readers, but failure to mark the beginning of the the trail with obvious signage almost had us walking round in circles. Also it was just as well I initially made enquiries by phone for the White Rock walk. Nowhere on the website was it mentioned that it was closed for burning that day. Thanks, Roy.
by Alison Muirhead (score: 2|274) 69 days ago
Agree about poor signage. Tried to find the start of the walk a few weeks ago and gave up. No information at "information centre" as it was closed and no signage from car park to where walk starts.
by bea.d (score: 1|36) 66 days ago
Thanks for sharing. I have been trying to find information about this new track.
by Kerenza Korostovetz (score: 2|163) 65 days ago
Many thanks for this information Roy, just what I was looking for. I will try it out soon.
Elizabeth
by eliza (score: 0|2) 59 days ago
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