Brisbane has to be one of the prettiest cities in Australia – the compact CBD and Brisbane River, South Bank Parklands, the colourful West End. There’s just something about it.

(As a Melbournian, I guess the weather might also have something to do with it for me.)

But Brisbane isn’t just Queensland’s beating heart. It’s a gateway to some of the most stunning wild places this country has to offer.

Set off from the city in just about any direction, and outdoor adventure awaits. Brisbane might be home to all kinds of attractions and cultural experiences, but the real gems lie in its surrounding parks.

Let’s give you the lowdown on Brisbane’s surrounding natural wonders, and hopefully provide you with all the information you’ll need to enjoy these adventures firsthand.

D’Aguilar National Park: Hiking Greenes Falls Track

Hikers enjoying Greenes Track

Just a stone’s throw from Brisbane’s vibrant city centre, D’Aguilar National Park is a haven for nature lovers. Among the park’s vast network of trails, the Greenes Falls Track is one of the most popular short bushwalks, and for good reason.

Wind your way through lush rainforest gullies and past crystal-clear pools to a small cascading waterfall. Soak up the soothing symphony of birdcalls, backed by the babbling creeks. Pademelon sightings are common but keep your eyes on the water if you’re hoping to spot the endangered Mount Glorious spiny crayfish.

Need to Know

Length: 4.3 km
Time: 2 hrs
Grade: Moderate / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Return
Access: The Greenes Falls track is in the South D’Aguilar section of D’Aguilar National Park, about 42km from Brisbane’s city centre. Access roads are sealed and suitable for conventional (2WD) vehicles. The walk can be accessed from Maiala day-use area on the eastern side of Mount Glorious Road. Begin walking along the Rainforest circuit from the eastern edge of the Maiala day-use area.

Mount Coot-tha: Conquer the Summit Track

A creek at Mount Coot-Tha

Image credit: Brisbane City Council

It’s rare to find a hike like this so close to a big city. The Mount Coot-tha Summit Circuit will get your blood pumping and provide that much-needed nature fix, then have you in awe at the views of Brisbane’s skyline, Moreton Bay and the surrounding mountains. All in a quick day trip.

From JC Slaughter Falls, you’ll hike through verdant bushland, traversing an indescribably beautiful gorge and strolling through ferny glades to the Mount Coot-tha summit lookout. The shady, gentle walk back down to the trailhead provides a welcome saunter compared to the ascent.

If you’re not already sold, the enchanting wildflowers and shy but curious wildlife will make this a must-do next time you visit Brisbane.

Need to Know

Length: 5 km
Time: 1.5 – 2 hrs
Grade: Moderate / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Access: The Mount Coot-tha Summit Walk starts from JC Slaughter Falls Picnic Area, about 15 minutes from Brisbane’s city centre. Access is via JC Slaughter Falls Road, off Sir Samuel Griffiths Drive. The trailhead is at the far end of the picnic area. 

Glass House Mountains: Scale the Mount Ngungun Summit Track

Mount Ngungun from afar, as the sun sets

A little further from the hustle and bustle, the iconic volcanic peaks of the Glass House Mountains rise dramatically from the surrounding plains, beckoning even city lovers to walk amongst them.

For unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains and countryside, don’t miss the Mount Ngungun Summit Track. You’ll stroll through gorgeous open forests to the steep steps leading to the summit. Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with the most amazing panorama.

Need to Know

Length: 2.8 km
Time: 2 hrs
Grade: Moderate / Grade 4 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Return
Access: From Glass House Mountains township, take Burgess Street, Coonowrin Road and Fullertons Road. The Mount Ngungun Summit Track car park is about 1.2 kilometres along Fullertons Road.
Further Info: The Mount Ngungun Summit Track is quite popular, so it is recommended to get there early in the morning to avoid crowds and potential trouble finding a car park.

Lamington National Park: Traverse the Toolona Creek Circuit

The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area protects the largest remaining area of subtropical rainforest on Earth, spanning more than 400,000 hectares from northeastern New South Wales to Queensland.

Lamington National Park’s inclusion in this World Heritage Area should give you a good idea of the kind of ancient rainforests you’ll experience on the Toolona Creek Circuit.

Hikers on this trail are treated to a treasure trove of biodiversity and a sensory feast of vibrant rainforest colour, towering ancient trees, cascading waterfalls, and wildlife sightings.

Following Toolona Creek through a narrow gorge, there’s a surprise around every corner. Make sure you’ve got your camera ready at all times.

Elabana Falls dropping into a mossy gully

Need to Know

Length: 17.4 km
Time: 6 – 7 hrs
Grade: Difficult / Grade 4 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Access: The trailhead is accessed from Green Mountains day-use area on Lamington National Park Road, 5.7km from the Lamington National Park entrance. The park is about 110 kilometres south of Brisbane.

Springbrook National Park: Take on the Twin Falls Circuit

Looking into a gully from the top of a waterfall

Twin Falls Circuit leads hikers through lush rainforest, dotted with palms and tree-ferns to two waterfalls. This is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Springbrook National Park, another park protected by the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.

From feeling the power of the rainforest waterfalls to spotting shy pademelons hopping through the undergrowth, you’ll stop for a lot of unplanned rests on this moderately challenging circuit walk. Even the vegetation will have you in awe, especially when you realise that some of these trees are thought to be up to 1,500 years old.

Need to Know

Length: 4 km
Time: 2 hrs
Grade: Moderate / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Access: The Twin Falls Circuit begins from either Tallanbana Picnic Area or Canyon Lookout, which is accessed from Brisbane via the Bruce Highway. Turn off the highway onto Nerang-Murwillumbah Road, turn left onto Pine Creek Road and then left again onto Springbrook Road. Follow the signs from there.

When should I visit Brisbane?

Brisbane is blessed with a subtropical climate, which means it’s great for outdoor activities year-round. However, if you’re planning a hiking-focused trip, the best time to visit would be during the cooler months from April to October. The temperatures during these months are mild and perfect for outdoor adventures, with daytime temperatures typically ranging between 15°C and 25°C (59°F and 77°F). The skies are mostly clear, and rainfall is less frequent than in the summer months, providing ideal conditions for hiking. Remember, however, that these are also the most popular months for tourists, so be sure to plan ahead and lock in any accommodation, transport and tours.

How should I get around while in Brisbane?

Brisbane offers a reliable and efficient public transport system, including buses, trains, and ferries, all of which are integrated under the TransLink system. This makes it easy to navigate the city and visit various attractions. You can buy a Go Card, a prepaid card that will allow you to travel seamlessly across all TransLink services.

However, if your itinerary includes visiting the incredible hiking trails around Brisbane, many are located outside the city, so public transport may not be the most convenient option. In this case, consider hiring a car for the duration of your stay. You might want to check out Alpha Car Hire for a wide range of vehicles, making it easy to find one that will suit your needs and budget. Hiring a car will give you the flexibility to explore at your own pace and make the most of those outdoor adventures. Make sure you visit the surrounding towns for a coffee or a bite to eat, to support the local communities.

What else should I see and do on my trip to Brisbane?

While the hiking trails around Brisbane are a must-visit for any outdoor enthusiast, it would be a shame to visit and not see what else this beautiful part of Australia has to offer.

Make sure to visit the South Bank Parklands, a vibrant, riverside precinct with lush parks, world-class eateries, stunning river views, and a plethora of cultural attractions. It’s the perfect place to relax after a long hike. It even has an artificial beach which, as tacky as it might sound, is a gorgeous spot for a swim. Roma Street Parklands, another oasis in the heart of the city, is a fantastic spot to unwind, have a picnic, or simply enjoy the beautiful gardens. Interestingly, it’s the world’s largest city centre subtropical garden.

Immerse yourself in Brisbane’s rich cultural scene at the Queensland Cultural Centre, located at South Bank. Here you’ll find the Queensland Art Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland Museum, and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, all offering fascinating insights into the region’s art, history, and culture. Don’t forget to check what’s on at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre – if something catches your eye, booking a show could be the perfect end to one of your adventure-filled days in Brisbane.

For those seeking more outdoor adventures, the Riverlife Adventure Center offers exciting activities like rock climbing, kayaking, and abseiling. Or if your favourite kind of outdoor adventure is a day at the beach, take a day trip to the Gold Coast for some sun, surf and sand.

Have you visited Brisbane and ventured into the outdoors? Got any of these hikes on your bucket list? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.

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