Mt Coot-tha has long been a popular place for hiking and the Brisbane City Council has been putting a lot of effort into creating new tracks, circuits and attractions on the mountain. Recently, several newly constructed and refurbished trails have opened a great 6 km circuit option that I am dubbing the Super Summit Circuit that takes in most of Mt Coot-tha attractions.
New trails at Mt Coot-tha link several tracks together into a super summit circuit
A note on signs and navigation in Mt Coot-tha. The Brisbane City Council has elected to mostly put up map signs in various locations. Often tracks are just signed with a post indicating it is a walking track, if at all. As a result, it is easy to walk past many of the trail heads. While it is isn't really possible to get lost in Mt Coot-tha as there are plenty of people around and you usually have good phone and GPS coverage, it is worth being aware of the lack of good signage.
I am starting the description of this hike from the Hoop Pine Picnic Area, because it is easy to find parking here and you are starting at the lowest point in the walk and heading uphill, then returning down again. There are drink taps, barbecues and picnic shelters in this location if you want to sit and relax and share some food after the hike. Also, it is marked clearly on most maps. There is actually another small parking and picnic area that is a little closer to the start, but it is not named on any of the maps that I have seen, so I thought it is better to start from the Hoop Pine Picnic Area.
You can start the walk in a wide number of places, some with public transport access, such as the Summit, or road access, such as the Gold Mine Picnic Area and JC Slaughter Falls Picnic area, so you can walk it the way that you like. In fact, you can join this walk to some others if you want a longer and more challenging hike.
There are 3 paths that head from this area up to The Pinnacle or highest point at Mt Coot-tha. The most well known is the Powerful Owl Trail, which is a steep fire trail heading up the mountain. However, my recommendation is to walk along the path beside Samuel Griffith Drive in the direction of the JC Slaughter Falls Picnic Area and take the Pinnacle Trail which is not quite so steep.
This trail is very poorly marked at this location. You can find it as a grassy trail that leads off the path beside the road or if you miss that you will find another picnic area, and there is the start of what looks a fire trail here that becomes the Pinnacle Trail.
You can find another start to the Pinnacle Trail at the back of this picnic area
If you walk past both of those starting points, you will end up at the entry to the JC Slaughter Falls Picnic Area where there is a second start to the Pinnacle Trail. Yes, I know, it is really confusing but that is how they have designed the paths at Mt Coot-tha. It is just behind the toilet block near the entrance to the picnic area and you will see a sign showing a trail map but no sign saying the name of the trail. Basically, though you have 3 paths up the mountain and you can take any one of them and they will end up at the same point on the Powerful Owl Trail.
There is another start to the pinnacle trail in the JC Slaughter Falls Picnic Area
The Pinnacle Trail used to be a rough and ready hiking trail but it is now a reasonably well maintained multi-use trail. You will see mountain bikers but the path is wide enough for them to pass without any problem. The slow steady rise of this trail makes it easier to walk up or down than the start of the Powerful Owl Trail, which is why I am recommending this particular trail.
The Pinnacle Trail is a multi-use trail for hikers and mountain bikers
At the top, it will join onto the Powerful Owl trail. You will still need to walk a bit uphill along the trail. Be aware, if you are doing the circuit in the opposite direction, the Pinnacle Trail is not well marked at the top either, but it is really the only trail leading to the right if you are walking down the Powerful Owl Trail.
The Powerful Owl Trail is an easy and well maintained trail at the top
The Powerful Owl Trail continues along to the ring road and Chanel 9, but we want to leave it before then. Keep an eye out on your left for the Ghost Hole Track, which is actually signposted, so it is hard to miss. If you miss this path there is another path further up that also goes to the same area.
This lovely little track has a couple of alternative pathways, which I haven't explored, so I would recommend keeping to your right for any branch. It will lead to the Old Gold Mine. This is one of several Gold Mines that were established on the mountain, though only this one is signed and accessible. Don't think you will find any gold here, as those who did the mining found little to none.
This area is fairly quiet with a small creek and varied vegetation and I have found that if you are sitting for a while, you may be lucky to see some interesting wildlife here. The last time I walked this path, we saw cockatoos and parrots that came right up to us.
Form the Gold Mine, the path continues down to the Gold Mine Picnic Area which has picnic tables, barbecues and drinking water. You will find this is a popular place for people to come and relax. Or at least, every time I have been here, there have been people just reading a book or relaxing by themselves, rather than seeing groups of people.
The Summit is always worth visiting. It can be worth starting this walk here so that you can get coffee and ice cream at the cafe while enjoying the view at the end of the walk. However, when the area is busy, parking is a problem and once we had to wait an hour for a cup of coffee. Though most times the wait isn't that bad.
It is always worth popping into the Summit for views of Brisbane and maybe coffee, icre cream or more at the Kuta Cafe
When you get the JC Slaughter Falls Picnic Area you follow the road within the car park back to the main ring road. If you want one more little side journey, keep an eye out to your right for the Bush Chapel path. This is a lovely place that is a replica of the original bush chapel built in World War II by US Servicemen who were stationed at what is now JC Slaughter Falls. It is not often visited so it is a quiet spot to sit and relax in an otherwise busy area.
Another spot worth popping into is the rarely visited Bush Chapel
Overall, this is a great 6 km circuit and provides a great way to exercise, relax, enjoy nature and maybe get some ice cream on the way. What is more, now this is just one of many circuits available on the mountain, which makes walking in Mt Coot-tha even more fun.