Learn everything you need to know about the best walking and hiking trails within easy driving distance from Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.
If you are thinking about travelling to the Gold Coast and don’t just want to stay in the city, then this article will get you out in nature.
Gold Coast is located just south of Brisbane in Queensland and is a popular holiday destination for local Australians and international visitors.
The city is known for its beautiful beaches, awesome surf, fun theme parks, unique shops, nightlife, and the hinterland area nearby. In the Gold Coast hinterland, there are lots of incredible hikes to tackle for those looking to explore the wilderness and get some exercise.
Enjoy this list of the best hikes that are only about an hour away from the popular suburb of Surfers Paradise. Many of these hikes are also accessible from Brisbane!
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Let’s get into the list of the best hiking trails near the Gold Coast. There are so many beautiful national parks to explore, and these hikes are of varying difficulty level so they are suitable for people of all fitness levels.
They are all within 1.5 hours driving from the city as well, so you don’t have to travel too far. If you are just visiting Australia and don’t have your own car, definitley rent a car as public transport doesn’t always reach these remote natural areas.
The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.
This is a beautiful walk you can do with the whole family. It is a paved path that is wheelchair assessable.
The path follows Currumbin Creek, passing a number of small rock pools along the way. After about 800m, you will reach a historic sawmill at the end of the track.
This walk provides great spots to cool off with a swim on a hot day so bring your bathers. You can walk all the way up the creek and there are a few deeper rock pools that are great for swimming.
Arrive early on nice warm days to ensure you’ll find a parking space!
This hike will take you to the twin summits of Mt. Cougal near the border of Queensland and New South Wales. This hike will offer you stunning views of the area, but it is not for the faint-hearted. This climb will push your cardio limits, but it will be worth it!
When you arrive at the end of Garden of Eden Road, you will see a steel gate with a sign saying ‘Please keep gate clear ta’, this is the starting point.
The track starts off hard and will narrow in places so just watch your footing. Make sure you have the barbed-wired fence on your left the whole way up.
Though the walking track is steep, it is a great workout and ends with beautiful views at the summit.
Read next: 21 Best Things To Do In Brisbane
Just 45 minutes from Gold Coast, Natural Bridge is one of the coolest and most popular walks in the area and is suitable for kids and the whole family.
Part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Springbrook National Park has plenty of panoramic lookout spots as well as a rainforest full of ancient trees.
Natural Bridge is named because the circuit leads to a spacious, arched rock formation that creates a basalt cave with a waterfall. At night, the cave ignites with the soft green hue of glow worms.
Swimming is prohibited at Natural Bridge, mainly to protect the glow worms and other wildlife. But admiring the mysterious and magical scene is satisfying enough!
During the circuit to Natural Bridge, you’ll pass Cave Creek and the forests of Hoop Pines that are millions and millions of years old.
Another one of the best walks in Springbrook is the Purling Brook Falls Circuit. Full of ancient forests, wildflowers, waterfalls, and a suspension bridge, the hike itself is scenic and refreshing.
The hike is quite steep, with lots of stairs leading up and down cliff faces.
You’ll pass a few small rock pools where you can go for a dip, and you’ll get to see the tall Purling Brook Waterfall which plunges out of the cliffs.
Instead of just following the circuit back, continue on a 2km detour on another loop trail to Warringa Pool. This rock pool is the largest of all the ones on this track, so it’s worth doing the detour to swim at this special and secluded swimming hole.
This easy loop return walk offers lovely coastal views and lookouts in Burleigh Head National Park.
From the car park, there are two trails. One will take you along the coastline where you can visit Cardwell Cove and Echo Beach first and then loop around the trail which will take you up to some lovely lookouts; Tumgun Lookout and Jebbribillum Lookout.
You can go either way on this trail. Take the lookout trail first then enjoy the beaches and cove. It is totally up to you. Heading up to the lookout is an elevation of about 88m, so it’s a bit steep but not too hard.
When you are up at the lookout, don’t forget to watch for whales in the winter months! You will find the ancient volcanic columns spread out amongst the rocks by the ocean, so there are lots of cool views.
This is a nice walk for the whole family, so bring your kids and any other people who wish to hike and enjoy the beach!
This relaxing stroll along Tallebudgera Creek is full of wildlife and history. It’s also an easy walk that anyone can complete.
The boardwalk trails the edge of a massive mangrove track, one of the largest in this part of Queensland. You can admire the twisted trunks of the mangrove trees while strolling along the boardwalk.
Also keep your eyes peeled for birds, lizards, crabs, and other coastal creatures. Kingfishers and cockatoos are commonly spotted here.
There are also signs detailing the rich history of the native Kombumerri people who call this place home. Read, learn, and enjoy the serenity of nature on this peaceful walk.
The Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area is a beautiful park that protects more than 1200 hectares of wetland, salt marsh, eucalypt forest and mangrove habitat.
There is a great track that will take you to all the great places in the area. It is the Koala, Boundary and Melaleuca Track which are 3 flat trails that make up a distance of 9.2 km. On this loop you can spot different birdlife and wildlife. If you are lucky you may spot a koala, so don’t forget to look up.
Aside from the wide array of wildlife, this area also has a few mountain biking trails. You may have to share the trail with a mix of mountain bikers, runners and walkers all enjoying the area.
Find more fun things to do in the area with our list of day trips from Brisbane!
The Karawatha Forest consists of about 900 hectares of beautiful bushland in the coastal lowlands on the southern edge of Brisbane.
On this bushwalk, you will most likely see birdlife, kangaroos, and lots of little monitor lizards.
The paths throughout the Karawatha Forest are easy to cover, with minimal incline on the trail. The terrain across the whole forest changes from dry gravel to bushland, to thin windy bike trails. The trails are used by mountain bikers, walkers, and runners.
Pop into the Karawatha Discovery Centre and get a map and some information about the trails.
Just a 40-minute drive from the Gold Coast, Tamborine National Park has some amazing walks through the subtropical rainforest.
Witches Falls Circuit is one of the park’s highlights. This easy and enjoyable trail passes one of Witches Chase Waterfalls, which are small and serene and only flow after periods of rain.
The highlight of this trail is the amazing lookouts. Witches Falls Lookout not only allows you to see the waterfall, it overlooks the scenery of the Great Dividing Range and Scenic Rim, gorgeous areas of southeast Queensland.
Rotary Lookout is another great viewing platform over the area.
This lush rainforest circuit near Tamborine Mountain makes a stunning day trip from Gold Coast or Brisbane.
From the carpark, walk through the dense Eucalypt forest, where you can practically taste the humidity and the freshwater creeks and waterfalls running through the forest.
The Curtis Falls Track leads to a stunning waterfall known as Curtis Falls. There is a viewing platform where you can admire the waterfall in all its glory.
Next, head towards Cedar Creek as the Lower Creek Circuit branches off from Curtis Falls Track.
We would recommend skipping this trail in rainy or wet weather, as the creek can rise and the terrain can get muddy. There is some rock hopping throughout the trail as you walk along Cedar Creek, so wear good shoes and only attempt in dry weather.
One of the best hikes in Lamington, this moderately easy hike takes you through the rainforest and down to the spectacular cascade known as Morans Falls.
You’ll pass a lookout over the falls, which tumbles down a massive cliff and into Morans Creek Gorge.
But the highlight of this walk is continuing past the lookout and following the trail to the top of Morans Falls. You can sit right at the top of the falls and enjoy magnificent views of the entire valley.
This is the perfect spot to watch the sunset and have a picnic. The sun drops right over the mountains on the edge of the valley! Just be sure to start your return walk before it gets too dark, or bring a flashlight or head torch.
This long and challenging trail is the ultimate walkthrough Lamington National Park. The park is separated into the Binna Burra section and the Green Mountains section, and this walk unites the two.
Traverse across the Lamington Plateau for 7 hours as you pass rainforest gulleys, deep valleys, and mountain ridges. Pass through dense, temperate and subtropical rainforest, see local birds and majestic trees, and admire the rushing waterfalls.
This is easily one of the best Gold Coast walks. On the many lookout points, you can see all the way across Tweed Valley and Limpinwood Valley.
Heading north? Check out our guide to the best things to do in Noosa.
This circuit branches off of the Border Track, so hike along there for 1.7km until you reach the trailhead for Toolona Creek Circuit.
Spend the next 6 hours making your way through the rainforest, passing Toolona Falls and Chalahn Falls along the way.
The hike traverses Toolona Gorge and eventually emerges at Wanungara Lookout. From here you can admire the views of the valleys and see all the way to Mount Warning, a prominent peak in northern New South Wales.
If you would like something more challenging and multi-day near the Gold Coast, this is the hike for you.
Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk is a lightly trafficked point-to-point trail located near O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. It is suggested to walk this Great Walk from west to east, starting at Lamington and finishing at Springbrook.
The trail passes Mount Merino, the Numimbah Valley, the Springbrook Range, Little Nerang Creek Valley, and more. Enjoy all the lookouts along the way.
Ending at Settlement Camground, you can book a stay here and revel in the massive feat you’ve accomplished over the last few days.
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