Surrounded by mountains and islands, Brisbane is a modern city with tons of hiking excursions at your fingertips. We spent a significant amount of time in Brisbane and made an intimate connection with its unspoiled nature. During our time working a backpacker job, we had time to explore the best areas for hiking Brisbane.
Brisbane is easily navigable by foot, bike, or ferry, and it’s a breeze accessing beautiful hiking paths. Whether you prefer mountain climbs or beach walks, you’ll find it near Brisbane. Even if you don’t feel like venturing outside the city, a rewarding hike is never far away. But the eucalypt forests, plunging waterfalls, bushlands, and white-sand beaches will draw any hiking enthusiast to these gorgeous locations.
To help you decide where to hike in Brisbane, we’ve divided trails into three sections. We grouped mountain hikes, island hikes, and city walks to make things easier to organize your itinerary.
Hiking Brisbane in the mountains
Brisbane has several mountain ranges within a short drive of the city. During our stay, we have been hiking Brisbane in many surrounding areas to witness the beauty of its most iconic peaks. Our favorite areas for Brisbane mountain hikes provided some of the best vistas anywhere in Australia.
With an elevation of 481 meters (1,578 ft), Mermaid Mountain offers a steady climb and fantastic views of Lake Manchester. The craggy peak sits just outside of South D’Aguilar National Park and has several paths to reach the summit. Lake Manchester and Gold Creek Reservoir are two great starting locations to begin your trek.
The paths to Mermaid Mountain traverse through forests, but some routes have incredibly steep terrain. If you start from Gold Creek Reservoir, expect to hike nearly 23 km round trip. While that lengthy trek will be challenging, there are shorter routes that have steeper sections. Either way, expect a difficult climb to arrive at the summit.
Note that several trails to Mermaid Mountain lack quality signage, and it’s easy to get lost in the forest. It helps to download the trail on alltrails, that will help you to navigate the right route. Once you reach the summit, you’ll have a breathtaking lookout of Manchester Lake and adjacent bushlands.
Just a stone’s throw from the Brisbane CBD, Mt. Coot-Tha warms the hearts of nature-loving Brisbanites. That for it is one of the favorite hiking Brisbane locations of the locals. The Mt. Coot-Tha Reserve sits less than 10 km from Brisbane and has dozens of trails for hikers of all levels. Make the short drive to the reserve and explore more than 1,500 hectares of eucalypt forests with panoramic views of the Brisbane skyline.
The signature hike here is the Mount Coot-tha Summit Trail, a 6 km (3.7 mile) climb to the forested peak. You’ll weave through eucalypt forests and rainforest gullies before ending at those sensational skyline images. The trail passes trickling creeks and small waterfalls, and you can witness a surreal sunset at the summit.
Glass House Mountains
Around a 1-hour drive north of Brisbane, the Glass House Mountains consist of 11 craggy peaks rising above the Sunshine Coast hinterland. The volcanic monoliths are an essential stop for our Brisbane to Cairns Route Guide for their unbelievable Sunshine Coast vistas. You’ll find walking paths and abseiling spots throughout the countryside but summiting one of the peaks is a must-do.
Some summits are trickier than others, but the Mount Ngungun Summit Track is a great peak to tackle first. It’s only 2.6 km (1.6 miles) and modest elevation gain, but the views of the taller Mount Tibrogargan and adjacent hinterland are unbelievable. Although the Mount Ngungun climb isn’t tricky compared to others, use caution along the cliffside edges.
Now that you’re warmed up for hiking Brisbane, the Mount Tibrogargan Peak Track will push your limits. Although it’s a short climb, Mount Tibrogargan is extremely steep and requires rock scrambling to reach the summit. Once you pass the rock climbing test, it’s smooth sailing for amazing views of the other Glass House Mountains.
Situated in the Gold Coast Hinterland, Mount Tamborine has a myriad of landscapes to explore. The fertile plateau sits around a 1-hour drive from Brisbane and features virgin rainforests, gushing waterfalls, and sparkling pools. Its lush landscapes sit beneath an ancient caldera that resulted from a volcanic eruption eons ago.
Mount Tamborine National Park offers hikers several scenic trails wandering old-growth forests, picturesque gorges, and geologic wonders. Most paths around Mount Tamborine aren’t overly difficult and only take 1-2 hours to complete. The rainforest treks nurture fascinating wildlife, and lookouts gaze at the Pacific Ocean and Scenic Rim.
Curtis Falls and Lower Creek Circuit is an easy intro to explore Mount Tamborine’s rainforests and waterfalls. The trail showcases eucalypts, sparkling rock pools, and tumbling creeks as you gaze upwards at the forest canopy.
D’Aguilar National Park
Hiking Brisbane inD’Aguilar National Park is easy, as the park is just northwest of Brisbane. The park protects the diverse landscapes of the D’Aguilar Range. The forested mountains sit on Brisbane’s doorstep and feature a wide range of trails for hikers to tackle. D’Aguilar’s dozens of paths have everything from easy rainforest treks to rigorous climbs with scenic viewpoints.
Within the park, explore subtropical and eucalypt forests, chase waterfalls, and roam remote gorges. The fertile ecosystem hosts hundreds of plant and animal species, with many listed as endangered. For birdwatchers, hiking through the lush forests often provides glimpses of colorful species like bowerbirds and yellow-tailed black cockatoos.
For an easy intro to D’Aguilar’s varied terrain, try the 4.2 km (2.6-mile) Greenes Falls and Rainforest Circuit. Near Mount Glorious, the short path includes eucalypt woodlands, rock pools, trickling streams, and various wildlife. If you’re up for a challenge, Somerset Lookout has sweeping views of the D’Aguilar Range. The 12.9 km (8-mile) hike traverses through gum and rainforests and ascends roughly 409 meters (1,342 ft) for breathtaking vistas.
Mount Byron sits south of D’Aguilar National Park and rises to about 618 m (2,028 ft). It’s easy to link to Mount Byron from the Somerset Trail if you’re trekking D’Aguilar National Park. The scenic routes around the peak take you through bushlands, eucalypt forests, and rocky plateaus for solitude in nature.
If you take the Mount Byron Trail via Somerset Trail Circuit, it will be a long 16.9 km (10.5-mile) trek through lush forests to the summit. The hilly terrain makes 579 meters (1,900 ft) of elevation gain and presents many heart-racing viewpoints of the D’Aguilar Range and Lake Wivenhoe.
Hiking Brisbane on the surrounding islands
Hiking Brisbane isn’t restricted to mainland hikes only. The series of islands offshore add an extra flair to the picturesque hikes Brisbane has to offer. Stretches of pristine beaches, sand dunes, sparkling lakes, wild bushlands, and fertile wetlands make Brisbane a thrilling place for beach freaks and avid trekkers.
Bribie Island links to the mainland, so it’s the most accessible island in Moreton Bay. The terrain isn’t difficult to trek, but the balmy weather can overpower you. Bring sunscreen, insect repellent, and plenty of water to stay hydrated on the coastal paths.
Walking along the hard-packed sand brings you near the lapping waves and offers surreal views of Moreton Bay. From the Pumicestone Passage, you’ll spot the Glass House Mountains in the distance. It’s possible to hike the entire coastline for around 30 km (18.6 miles) to the island’s north side, but you won’t find many amenities.
Near Red Beach, Buckley’s Hole is an interesting area to explore to find a vast array of bird species. Just beyond the Bribie Island Community Arts Centre, you’ll find several short treks through shady trees and native flora.
Around a 75-minute ferry ride from Brisbane Port, Moreton Island is one of the world’s largest sand islands. Jumping off at the Tangalooma Island Resort, you’ll have easy access to the island’s pristine beaches and flora. The largely untouched island offers a great location for hiking Brisbane with coastal walks along sandy beaches, bushland treks, and tough dune climbs. Turquoise waters lap against the shoreline as blooming wildflowers and eucalyptus trees highlight the interior.
As your ferry approaches the island, check out the shipwrecks submerged in the aquamarine waters just offshore. During low tide, trek the beach for stunning images of the old vessels and native wildlife. To cross the island interior, push your leg muscles by climbing the Big Sandhills. The windswept dunes lack vegetation and rise 60 meters (197 ft) above the shoreline.
If you’re really up for a climb and spectacular coastal vistas, the Mount Tempest Track provides a great workout. Mount Tempest is the world’s highest coastal sand dune and has sweeping views of the coastline and wild bushlands. At 8.7 km (5.4 miles), the Telegraph Walking Track stretches through more of the native flora and towards Blue Lagoon Road.
North Stradbroke Island
Around 30 km (18.6 miles) southeast of Brisbane, North Stradbroke Island enchants nature enthusiasts with secluded beaches, deep-blue lakes, and diverse wildlife. Coastal walks whisk you away to white-sand beaches and rocky headlands overlooking turquoise waters. On balmy afternoons, the crystal-clear sea is tempting for a refreshing swim after your day hike.
But venture into the island’s interior, and you’ll find bush tracks ending at other beautiful swimming holes. Brown Lake gets its rusty-colored hue from nearby tea trees, while Blue Lake sparkles beneath the sunlight. Myora Springs is another peaceful spot for a dip that lets you walk amongst lush mangroves.
Although it’s a short path, the 1.3 km (0.8-mile) North Gorge Walk features breathtaking views of waves crashing into a rocky inlet. In addition to the seaside vistas, there’s a great chance you’ll spot wallabies near the trail.
Russell Island sits beside North Stradbroke Island and is the largest of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands. The small island features mangroves, wetlands, and secluded beaches to create an idyllic setting away from the mainland. It’s a fantastic area for birdwatching, and you’ll often spot fishing boats from the sandy shores.
The Russell Heritage Trail has several day hike options that lead to historic landmarks, scenic lookouts, and bushland areas across the island.
Hiking Brisbane city
If your time in Brisbane is short, don’t worry about heading outside of the city. Brisbane entices nature lovers with riverside walks, cliffside views, tranquil gardens, and city parks to enjoy the outdoors. Whenever you’re in the mood for a stroll, you’ll find urban paths minutes away from the main town for hiking Brisbane.
Kangaroo Point may be a fashionable district of Brisbane’s inner city, but it abounds with natural beauty. It’s a fabulous place for a hike if you don’t feel like venturing outside the city limits. Kangaroo Point lies next to the snaking Brisbane River, and Brisbane CBD sits across the water. The walking circuits of Kangaroo Point treat hikers to botanic gardens, cliffside views, and riverside boardwalks.
The Kangaroo Point to Storey Bridge hike follows the river, visits beautiful gardens, and has several amazing cityscapes. Except for climbing and descending Storey Bridge, the urban path lacks elevation gain. And make sure to climb the famous Kangaroo Cliffs, an essential thing to do in Brisbane.
If you’re up for another riverside walk, West End sits on a bend of the Brisbane River. Hiking Brisbane along the river leads you through tree-lined parks, green spaces, flower gardens, and beautiful cityscapes. The waterfront path courses through picnic areas and passes several food vendors to find something to eat for lunch.
For a lengthy trek along the river, the Brisbane River Circuit stretches 21.4 km (13.3 miles). The path starts in Orleigh Park and passes notable landmarks, boat piers, bridges, and gorgeous parks. Although it’s an out & back loop following the river, you have the option of riding a ferry to return to the starting point.
Just a 15-minute drive from Brisbane CBD, the Seven Hills Bushland Reserve protects 52 hectares of bushlands. The well-maintained paths bring the wild bushlands right to the city and feel like you’ve crash-landed in nature. Many parts of the reserve have shaded sections to beat the heat, and you’ll find lots of wildlife.
While the circuits won’t challenge avid hikers, there are a few hills to increase your heart rate. The 3.1 km (1.93-mile) Seven Hills Circuit tackles the steepest sections of the reserve and is a great birdwatching hub.
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