Where are the best hikes in Queensland?
Caution: before any hike, always check relevant park management websites for updated information on track conditions, closures or dangers.
Some of the below hikes may have been affected by bush fires and may be closed for hikers. Please help those affected by fires by donating to The Red Cross, who work to provide aid during an emergency, conflict, disaster or crisis.
You’ll love the natural beauty that comes from hiking in Queensland. With 300 days of sunshine a year and an incredibly diverse landscape, there’s a chance to explore lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and some of Australia’s most interesting fauna. What's more. with its more temperate weather, Queensland is a great destination for hiking in all seasons.
So lace up your boots and explore the following Queensland hiking trails.
The Glasshouse Mountains
Features: multiple trails, rock scrambling, steep ascents, and loose gravel underfoot, pine plantations, stunning peaks, eucalypt woodland,
Rating: easy to difficult.
Length/Time: Ranging from 2.8km to 9km return (Yul-yan-man track)
When to go: all year. Many hikes in Queensland are subject to the rainy season (Nov-April) but down near Brisbane the weather is more temperate.
Child-friendly: yes, there are a number of shorter walks. This is one of the best places to find Queensland hikes suited to various age ranges.
Adapted Image: Paul Balfe
A great spot for hikes near Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, there’s a variety of peaks and trails surrounding the Glasshouse Mountains, including the iconic Mount Beerwah and the two main trailheads on Mount Tibrogargan and Beerburrum. The longest trail, the Grade 5 Yul-yan-man track, is a challenging but rewarding hike that invites you to savour what's on offer. Yul-yan-man is a Kabi Kabi word for 'walk slowly', inviting you to take your time on this challenging hike in Queensland's hinterland. You can expect to do the 9km rock scrambling trail in 3-4 hours.
If you’re looking for the perfect family activity, a weekend escape, or a more serious challenge, it’s likely you’ll find the trail for your needs right here.
While Mount Tibrogargan itself is extremely steep, the 3.3km Tibrogargan Circuit leads around the base and is an easy 90-minute walk. Perfect for the family or hiking beginners, you’ll get to experience great views of the surrounding mountains, marvel in the open eucalypt and melaleuca forests, and learn a bit about the Glasshouse Mountains as you go (there’s info as your walk around the track).
Features: open forest, creeks, dry rainforest, vines, hoop pines, eucalypts, exposed rock and cliffs, rock pools and incredible wildlife (white-throated treecreepers, anyone?)
Rating: Grade 4-5 (experienced)
Length/Time: from 600m to 3km return.
When to go: the granite in the area becomes very slippery when wet, so dry cool days are ideal.
Child-friendly: Most of the area is suited for experienced hikers as there are limited developed walking tracks. Only take older kids with previous experience and navigation skills.
More information: learn more about the Mount Walsh walk.
A two hour's drive away, this is another great hike near Brisbane, while still feeling like it is right in the middle of nowhere. Mount Walsh is the ideal weekend hike for those who need to get out of the city and reconnect with nature. It’s a little off-the-beaten-track, so make sure you’re well prepared for the day.
The park itself is a wildlife refuge and shelters some rare and threatened species, including the powerful owl. More familiar faces include wallabies, peregrine falcons, and lace monitors.
Hiking in Queensland should always mean a swim at some point, so grab your togs and visit the Waterfall Creek Section AKA the Utopia walk. The 3km return bushwalk features scrubland, vine forest and lots of clear, running water. You can take a dip in the stunning natural rock pools or explore further up the creek. Expect a little bit of easy scrambling if you do.
For more experienced hikers, consider the summit of Mount Walsh for truly spectacular views. With steep inclines, loose gravel and a bit of rock scrambling for good measure, this trail can take anywhere between 2-5 hours. There’s no formal trail, but there are a few markings. You’ll need some navigational skills to get to the top.
Box Forest Circuit
Features: waterfalls, brush box forests, box orchids, sub-tropical forests (as part of Australia's Gondwana Rainforests).
Rating: Grade 4 (experienced)
Length/Time: 10.9km circuit (4-5 hrs)
When to go: spring is the best time to go due to the temperate weather and box orchids that bloom along the path. Winter can get down to zero degrees Celsius with frosts, while the area stays on average 5 degrees cooler than Brisbane.
More information: find out more about the Box Forest Circuit.
Image: Chris Fuller
A great destination for hiking near the Gold Coast at only an hour's drive away, the Lamington National Park area in which this circuit weaves through is home to hundreds of waterfalls, incredible wildlife, and more than 160km of walking trails. As such, it’s pretty easy to understand why Lamington National Park is a popular walking destination for both locals and travellers.
This UNESCO World Heritage-listed area is also home to Albert’s lyrebird and if you’re lucky, you might glimpse this rare bird on the trail.
While there are plenty of trails to choose from, the Box Forest Circuit is quite a special one. The 10.9km return walk is a nature lover’s paradise with stunning views, gorgeous waterfalls and the occasional freshwater crayfish. Walk in a clockwise direction and you can even reward yourself with one of the few swimmable waterholes in the park at Picnic Rock and Elabana Falls.
If you want to take it to the next level, take on the Border Track instead. At 21.4km one way (about seven hours), you’ll need to organise transport for the other end.
Features: stunning waterfalls, cassowaries, tropical rainforests, valley views, butterflies (everywhere) and a forest full of birdlife.
Length/Time: 11.5km return (allow for more time as the path is often very muddy).
When to go: during the rainy season when rivers and the beach are closed, the waterfall can be a great place for a dip.
More information: find out more about Wooroonooran Park.
One of the best hikes near Cairns, if it’s a remote adventure you want and a walk through what feels like a scene from Jurassic Park, pack up the 4WD and head off to the Atherton Tablelands. Just over the Dividing Range, this North Queensland waterfall is a hidden gem – part of the adventure is just getting there.
Hop over the big metal gate and follow the Old Cairns trek for about an hour (4km) until you see an orange ribbon tied to a tree on the right-hand side. Locals suggest not taking this path but continuing for another kilometre until you come across another path that leads to the waterfall.
The Windin Falls trail is 11.5km return, but don’t let that fool you. Depending on your experience, it’ll still take anywhere from 3-4 hours. There are a few undulating sections and wet weather will slow you down. Still, it’s relatively easy, and suitable for older kids. At the top of the waterfall, you can expect a jaw-dropping view, beautiful natural pools and the chance to spot some native birds of prey. The cassowary is native to the area but is incredibly elusive, but you may still spot its footprints in the mud if not see it crossing the path at some point. Linger over the views along the hike (and the serenity) with a picnic lunch.
If you’ve packed your swimmers, you can also take a dip. Note you should have a good head for heights and a strong constitution – it’s a bit cold.
Image: Luca Ambrosi
The Cooloola Great Walk
Features: rainforest, eucalyptus, isolated beaches, lakes, walkers campsites, abundant wildlife.
Rating: Grade 4
When to go: September-November sees the best weather.
Child-friendly: older children.
Image: Melissa Walker Horn
Situated within the Great Sandy National Park, about two hours from Brisbane if you start in Noosa, this is an epic multiday hike in Queensland.
For a longer trek that encapsulates almost all of Queensland’s vast landscapes, you can’t go past the Cooloola Great Walk. This multi-day hiking adventure links the Noosa north shore all the way to Rainbow Beach.
At 102km, it’s one for your bucket list. It takes around 5-8 days to complete and you should have moderate navigation skills, moderate fitness levels and a few multi-day hikes under your belt. If you’re an inexperienced hiker (or new to Australia), it’s a good idea to join a guided tour.
One day you’ll experience tropical rainforest, the next you'll be trekking long, sandy beaches. Depending on the time of the year, the natural attractions include emus, echidnas and colourful wildflowers.
There are a few steep sections and some soft sand to tackle along the way, including the infamous Cooloola sand patch. At 1.2km, it’s not long, but it'll give your quads a workout.
There are also four walker camps spaced evenly along the way so you can sleep overnight. Spaces are limited, so you'll need to book in advance.
Remember to always prepare for any hike by checking the weather report, any safety restrictions at the local parks authority and that you have everything you need on your Hiking Gear List.
Conway circuit (Whitsundays Great Walk)
Features: tropical rainforest, hoop pines, Whitsunday Passage views, clifftops,
Rating: moderate - experienced
Length/Time: 28km circuit.
When to go: the circuit is closed 1 February to 31 March, while may also be closed during other seasons. Always check the Department of Environment and Science website for current information.
Child-friendly: older kids as this is a long hike.
More information: learn more about the Conway Circuit.
You can't begin to consider hiking in Queensland without booking a week in the Whitsundays. The Conway Circuit, situated within the Conway National Park, provides those who seek adventure an entirely new way to experience the Whitsundays.
A stunning multi-day hike, the Conway Circuit will have you passing through towering rainforest, past views over coastal towns to the stunning clear waters beyond, across cool creeks that you can dip your tired feet in, all while surrounded by wildlife found nowhere else in the country.
There are shorter hikes available in the park, such as that which begins from Kara Crescent in Airlie Beach, which is great news for those with younger kids. For those looking for a greater adventure, the full circuit is ideal for those with multi-day hiking experience under their belts. It can be done within a day's hike for those with experience and good fitness levels.
The toughest parts are found between the 10-16km point and a steep 1km climb a little later on. There are two main viewpoints along the track, with the rest of the hike spent within rainforest.
The path is well-marked each kilometre and there are two water stations along the way, for which you will need to bring purification tablets. This Queensland hike is ideal for those who want to get a sense of escape and true isolation within stunning rainforest surrounds.
Warrie Circuit (Springbrook National Park)
Features: streams, waterfalls, steep inclines...leeches after a downpour! A well-maintained trail,
Length/Time: 16-17km (4.5hours)
When to go: all year
Child-friendly: yes (older children)
More information: learn more about Springbrook National Park
Image: Sebastian Hans
Beginning at Tallanbana Picnic Area on Springbrook Road, this is a great South East Queensland hike, passing through mossy subtropical rainforests and across pristine babbling streams.
The Warrie Circuit will take you behind waterfalls (Rainbow Falls) as well as in front, being one of the few hikes in Queensland to do so, while gaps in the rainforest canopy will show off the misty valley beyond.
Be careful if attempting this hike after rain, as the path can become quite slippery and it is common for trees to be uprooted across the path after severe storms and cyclones. The Warrier Circuit also allows you to see Goomoolahra Falls from the bottom, which is a humbling experience. Take extra care when you cross the concrete bridge across the falls at this point. There are no handrails and it is slippery. The drop to the left is not recommended.
Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk
Features: Gondwana rainforests, Antarctic beech, volcanic landscapes, waterfalls, river crossings.
Rating: Grade 4. Moderate-experienced
Length/Time: 54 km one way (3 days)
When to go: all year
More information: learn more about the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk
This incredible Queensland hike links the two Gondwana rainforests contained on the plateaus of Lamington National Park and Springbrook National Park via the Numinbah Valley.
A three-day hike, this is a great one to take on as your first multi-day hiking, especially with the family. With the opportunity to walk along the rim of a volcano, through deep luscious rainforests and with epic views, this hike will keep the kids entertained and have them hooked on hiking for life.
Some creek crossings might be maid harder after a downpour, so aim to do the hike across a dryer few days, while it can get quite cold after March so pack the right gear this shifts in temperature as the light fades.
Best done from the west to east, this is a great way to experience more temperate Queensland hiking, while still having an opportunity to take a dip in a swimming hole and be immersed in verdant rainforests, which is what we really want from the sunshine state, after all.
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