Step into the best Gold Coast Hinterland hiking trails
Only people prepared for a verbal stoush would dispute that Queensland beaches are Australia’s most beautiful.
But tear yourself away from the toe-tickling sands and cool waters and you’ll find countless other natural treasures.
Inland from the happening heart of Queensland beach culture, the Gold Coast Hinterland and neighbouring Scenic Rim are hubs for unforgettable walks to tumbling waterfalls, prehistoric forests and grandstand lookouts over the mountains, patchwork plains and coastline.
Here are a few of the best Gold Coast Hinterland hiking trails to start your journey.
BEST SHORT WALK – MT CORDEAUX
Time required: 2-3 hours
Fitness level: Moderate
Where to stay: Warwick has varied accommodation; closer to the park you’ll find bed and breakfast and resort accommodation.
How to get there: This walk starts and ends in the gravel carpark beside Cunningham Highway at Cunningham’s Gap (and two hours south-west of Brisbane).
Dinosaur country? It certainly feels like it as you climb steadily through mossy trees dangling thick vines and out into grass trees bristling the Main Range’s upper slopes.
Expect close encounters with rainforest plants and wildlife (listen for lyrebirds as you approach Mt Cordeaux), and cliff-edge lookouts.
As far as reward for effort goes, this is a top walk.
BEST DAY WALK – TOOLONA CREEK CIRCUIT
Time required: 6-7 hours
Fitness level: Moderate to Hard
Where to stay: Neighbouring O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat or Green Mountains camping area . (Please note this campground is closed until late 2019 for site upgrades)
How to get there: This walk starts opposite O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, 2 hours drive from Brisbane or 1.5 hours drive from the Gold Coast.
Prepare to get your feet a little wet. Toolona Creek Circuit is arguably the prettiest of many walks in the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park.
This 18.5km loop takes you up Toolona Creek (which it crosses often) and past towering waterfalls on its way to the mountain ridge forming the Queensland-New South Wales border.
Offering occasional views of Mount Warning thrust up from the northern NSW Tweed Valley, this high ground is the realm of Antarctic beech trees dripping with moss, some of which are thought to be more than a thousand years old.
Toolona Creek can rise suddenly after rain so exercise caution in wetter months. That said – don’t be put off by a forecast of drizzle. Although it affects the views from the top, damp weather makes the sights and smells of the rainforest even more vibrant.
BEST ADVENTURE WALK – STINSON RETRACE
Time required: 12 hours
Fitness level: Hard
Where to stay: O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
How to get there: O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is two hours’ drive south of Brisbane, with the final 36km being a climb on a narrow and winding road.
On 19th February 1937, Stinson Model A aircraft, City of Brisbane crashed on its regular run from Brisbane to Sydney. Ten days later, two survivors were found by mountain dairyman Bernard O’Reilly.
It’s one of the most dramatic chapters in Australia’s rich aviation history. 80+ years on, you can step back in time with the history books on the guided 35km Stinson Walk.
The walk is part of twice-yearly O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat packages. It follows in Bernard’s footsteps through the rugged McPherson Range to the crash site – and down the creek he followed to get help.
A tough walk on a little-used track through tangled, subtropical rainforest offering few views, this is an epic adventure in Gold Coast Hinterland hiking.
BEST OVERNIGHT WALK – GOLD COAST HINTERLAND GREAT WALK
Time required: 3 days
Fitness level: Moderate – Hard
Where to stay: Camp at designated sites along the track.
How to get there: This walk starts in the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park, two hours’ drive south of Brisbane.
Track notes: Parts of this hiking trail are currently closed due to recent bushfires, seek information from the Parks Service before planning your trek.
One of the ten Great Walks of Queensland, this 54km trail combines and links several day hikes in Lamington and Springbrook national parks. It’s the big papa of Gold Coast hinterland hiking trails.
Your reward for carrying all your own food and camping equipment and making numerous steep climbs and descents? A very personal experience of the remarkable volcanic geology and diverse flora and fauna in the Gold Coast Hinterland. You’ll also begin to appreciate the strong connections the local Yugambah aboriginal people have for this country.
The trail passes through Woonoongoora, known by the Yugambah as Queen of the Mountains, whose story describes the formation of the rivers and valleys.
Up for another challenge? Here’s a few reasons why you should trek the Cooloola Great Walk!
This post was published in 2017 and updated October 2019.