Mt Coot-tha has a large number of trails and paths to walk. One of the best ways to explore Mt Coot-tha on foot is to cross the Summit from Chapel Hill down to the Botanic Gardens. This is a perfect walk for locals wanting to exercise or tourists looking to experience Mt Coot-tha fully.
Courtesy of Brisbane City Council
As a walk this is not that difficult. People planning on getting fit fill their backpacks with as much as they can and you will often see people hiking the trail with a full backpack. Others choose to run all or part of the trail. For those who are more relaxed, there are plenty of places to pause, meander and enjoy the walk without pushing yourself too much.
The walk starts at at Fleming Road in Chapel Hill. There is plenty of parking both on and off the street here. But it is actually better to take the 425 bus (leaving from the city, Toowong and Indoorpilly) to the start and then when you have crossed the other side of the mountain take another bus at the Botanic Gardens.
You can walk across the mountain in less than an hour, but the walk as described here, with all the pauses and sights will often take more than 2 hours.
The first part of the walk is up the Honeyeater track. This is a pleasant bush walk. It is basically up hill all the way, but it is not that steep and there are several places to stop and rest on the way up.
The top of the track brings you to the near Summit which is to your right down the Sir Sameul Griffith Drive. Here you have great views, drink fountains, toilets, a tourist shop, the lovely Kuta Cafe and the romantic Summit Restaurant & Bar.
Note: You will also see the Lookoot Trail marked on maps. I have walked up this a couple of times and is the steepest track in all Mt Coot-tha. Now I know a 68 year old guy you runs this every morning, but personally I have never made it to the top just walking without the need for a rest to catch my breath.
Most walkers stop at the Kuta Cafe. The price tends to be high and the quality is below average. Having said that, they have a great reputation for coffee and ice cream. One or both of those is in order after all that work hiking up the mountain.
View from the Kuta Cafe at the summit of Mt Coot-tha
I don't recommend having a meal here. There is a cafe at the end of the walk and much better places for a picnic if you brought your own food.
The Summit Track
This is the track everyone who comes to Mt Coot-tha visits. The summit track is partly bitumen and there are drink taps along the way, so it is a path suited to anyone at any level of fitness. Going from the summit it will be downhill, so it is an easy walk. You can take a bus to 471 bus to the summit if you just want an easy walk.
A side path from the Summit Track leads to the Aboriginal Art Trail. There are only a small number of Aboriginal Paintings, stone arrangements and carvings, but it is still fascinating for visitors from other countries. Don't be shy about walking on the creek beds to have a closer look at the art works, but please don't touch as this will damage them.
At the end of the trail you come to the JC Slaughter Falls Picnic Area. This lovely picnic area is a great place to stop for a picnic or barbecue if you came prepared and brought some food. Despite being very popular the area is so large you are certain to find a quiet picnic table or area to enjoy a meal or rest.
Courtesy of Brisbane City Council
The Bush Chapel
Built during Word War II by US service men stationed on Mt Coot-tha, the Bush Chapel has been beautifully restored, even if it is seldom used or even visited. Though sometimes people stage small weddings here.
You will find the track leading up the Bush Chapel along the road within the JC Slaughter Falls Picnic Area. It is just a short walk up a bitumen path to the Chapel and worth the diversion.
Down to the Botanic Gardens
The last part of the walk is along the side of the road. Look for a short-cut walking path to the right of the end of the picnic area otherwise walk up to the Sir Samuel Griffith Drive and turn right. There is a wide walking path along the side of the road and it is only a 5 to 10 minute walk down to the Botanic Gardens.
The Botanic Gardens
The Botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha is officially named the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, but everyone, including Google, confuses it with the City Botanic Gardens in the CBD.
This fantastic gardens has many attractions including patches of rainforest, a Japanese garden, children's play area, ponds, Tropical Display Dome, native plant area, views of Brisbane and much more. The gardens are a wonderful place to wander or sit down and relax. Having hiked the mountain, most people are not so keen to traverse the whole park.
There are also regular exhibitions at the Richard Randall Art Studio and the Botanic Gardens Auditorium. Don't forget the ever popular Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. A perfect place for the young and anyone who holds a fascination with the universe around them.
Tropical Display Dome at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens
But our journey can end at the the Botanic Cafe. This cafe overlooks one of the ponds in the park and despite it lovely setting and fairly high price, is basically a cheap cafe with mediocre food and service. Having been here on several occasions, if you stick to the tea, coffee and other drinks, you will be delighted.
End of the hike
Now you could head back over the mountain to where you started, something I have done on several occasions when building up my fitness for a big hike. If you just walk without stopping at all the attractions you can return to the starting point in less than an hour.
However, as I said before, the best option is use public transport. There are regular buses from the Botanic Gardens and there are also additional bus stops a short walk down the road from the Gardens.