Mt Coot-tha Reserve | Beginner's guide to walking

Mt Coot-tha, originally home to the Turrbal Aboriginal people, has had a storied history of logging, gold mining and as a military base. 

Visitors today have access to picnic facilities and barbecues throughout the forest with more than 1500 hectares to hike and bushwalk. From the lookout at Sir Samuel Griffith Drive, you can see views of the city, Moreton Bay, Stradbroke Island and southern ranges.  

Popular Mt Coot-tha walking trails

Less than 10 kilometres from the Brisbane Central Business District (CBD), Mt Coot-tha Reserve is a must-do for beginner and hiking enthusiasts alike, with more than 70 trails and tracks with bushwalks to suit every ability. 

Download our Mt Coot-tha track map for track locations, grading and track length.

Here are some of the more popular tracks, with the corresponding track map numbers.

Summit Track (#58) - 1.9 kilometres (30 minutes each way)

Arguably the mountain's most popular hike, this relatively easy amble leads from J. C. Slaughter Falls picnic area to Mt Coot-tha Lookout (near the roundabout). It's perfect for all fitness levels and offers epic views of Brisbane and beyond. If the view is not rewarding enough, there's also a great cafe at the lookout!

Mahogany Trail (#66) - 2.6 kilometres (1.5 hours)

This trail starts at J. C. Slaughter Falls picnic area, providing city glimpses on the way to the popular Mt Coot-tha Lookout. If you feel like stretching your legs further, a 4.5 kilometre circuit walk is formed when combined with the Summit Track and allows access onto the Citriodora Trail that connects through to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha (garden access available from 8am-4pm). This trail is suitable for those with a moderate level of fitness.

Discovery Trail and Discovery Trail extension (#70) - 1.6 kilometres (30 minutes)

This track connects Simpson Falls, J. C. Slaughter Falls, Hoop Pine and Silky Oak picnic areas. Moderate fitness required.

Simpsons Falls Track (#40) - 650 metres to Simpsons Falls (40 minutes)

A good track for wildflower viewing in late winter and spring when the golden wattles and purple hovea are blooming. Walkers may catch a glimpse of the city from the Simpson Falls viewing deck. Moderate fitness required. 

Eugenia Circuit (#39) - 2.8 kilometres (1.5 hours)

This circuit links at different points to Fairywren Circuit, Simpson Falls, Stringybark and Ghost Hole tracks and Powerful Owl Trail, allowing keen hikers to create a longer walking experience. The circuit by itself winds across the creek and links to the Simpson Falls viewing deck. Best for moderate fitness levels.

Ghost Hole Track (#42) - 650 metres (15 minutes)

Traces of the old gold mines can be seen along the Ghost Hole Track with signage detailing the area's gold mining history at the Gold Mine picnic area. An easy walk for all fitness levels.  

Honeyeater Track (#31) - 2.1 kilometres (1 hour)

This track begins off Sir Samuel Griffith Drive near the Mt Coot-tha Lookout, and heads down to Fleming road in Chapel Hill and past The Hut Environment Centre and then back up the ridgeline – which is sure to get the heartrate up. Best for moderate fitness levels.  

Tip: Keep an eye out for well-camouflaged water dragons along the way.  

Spotted Gum Trail - 2.4 kilometres (1-1.5 hours)

Starting at the gates from the Australian Plant Communities garden in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha, this trail traverses all the way to the Mt Coot-tha Lookout. The trail, which was opened in May 2020, ascends 250 concrete steps and is suitable for those with a moderate level of fitness. View the botanic gardens visitor map

For more on the hiking trails head to the Mt Coot-tha Visitor Information Centre, located in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha.

Bike paths

Mt-Coot-tha Reserve also has tracks and rides for keen cyclists that want to push themselves.

Road cycling

We’re lucky here in Brisbane to have access to mountains on the fringe of our CBD. If you’re up for a leg-burning challenge Mt Coot-tha offers an eight-kilometre loop with a steep incline that's known as 'The Back on the Strava mobile app. For a slightly easier ascent to the top by bike, Coot-tha 'front' follows Sir Samuel Griffith Drive up to the lookout.

Mountain bike riding

If you’re more into mountain bike riding, the western side of Mt Coot-tha Reserve offers a range of trails to suit riders of all abilities. What sets Mt Coot-tha apart is the grippy, red dirt and high forest canopy to protect you from the glaring sun. Look out for wildlife along the way including wallabies, koalas and cockatoos, for a truly immersive forest experience! 

Safety on the mountain

There are some important tips to remember when exploring Mt Coot-tha Reserve:

  1. Walk with a friend, not alone.
  2. Some tracks cross creek lines and are unsafe to cross when flooded after heavy rain. Remember, 'if it's flooded, forget it'.
  3. Some parts of the mountain don't receive mobile coverage. Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.

Flora and fauna

Mt Coot-tha is mostly open eucalypt forest. Some plant species are also rare or significant, including the Richmond birdwing vine (Pararistolochia praevenosa). Various wildflowers appear following good rain and warm weather and are especially visible during spring. 

Keep an eye out for animals including echidnas, tawny frogmouths, owls, gliders, possums, microbats, koalas and Powerful Owls. If you're a birdwatcher, look out for wrens and robins, as well as bigger birds such as goshawks, kites and eagles. The most common birds to spot are the crackles of cockatoos and pandemoniums of parrots. 

More to see at Mt Coot-tha precinct

Once you've hiked the 71 tracks and trails, check out the rest of the Mt Coot-tha precinct.

Get out of this world at Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium and explore the peaceful Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha.

More ideas for Brisbetter Days Out

There's so much to see and do in Brisbane. For more fabulous Brisbetter Days Out inspiration, head to our Explore your own backyard search page and choose the 'Day Out' category. 

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Editor's note: The featured content in Brisbane Explore is created to inspire residents and visitors to plan a day out exploring Brisbane and to buy local as part of the city's Economic Recovery Plan. Brisbane City Council disclaims any relationship with, or endorsement of, businesses featured in this video.

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Nearby events

Sat 23 Oct 2021, 9:00am

Drop-in and be crafty with a selection of art and craft activities. Ideal for all ages.

Mt Coot-tha Library, Brisbane Botanic Gardens, 152 Mt Coot-tha Road, Mt Coot-tha

Tue 26 Oct 2021, 9:30am

Bookings essential. To reserve your place, visit Eventbrite. Please note: Tickets are released from 10am seven days prior to the event. Experience the magic of...

Mt Coot-tha Library, Brisbane Botanic Gardens, 152 Mt Coot-tha Road, Mt Coot-tha

Thu 28 Oct 2021, 9:30am

To celebrate Halloween, come for a walk on the dark side with a volunteer guide at Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt Coot-tha, and meet the plants associated with...

Mt Coot-tha Library, Brisbane Botanic Gardens, 152 Mt Coot-tha Road, Mt Coot-tha

Sat 30 Oct 2021, 9:00am

Drop-in and be crafty with a selection of art and craft activities. Ideal for all ages.

Mt Coot-tha Library, Brisbane Botanic Gardens, 152 Mt Coot-tha Road, Mt Coot-tha