The capital of Queensland, Brisbane is unquestionably one of Australia's biggest and most vibrant cities. From the arts district of the South Bank to the bustling vibe of downtown, the city has plenty to offer those who love urban life, including the best brunch in Brisbane. However, with the Gold Coast just south of the city and a wealth of state and national parks surrounding it, it's no surprise that Brisbane is also known as a haven for nature lovers. In fact, the parks in and around Brisbane mean that it wouldn't seem right to visit this East Coast city without taking in some of the incredible forests, beaches, mountains, and other natural wonders that connect to make this area so special. There's really no better way to explore this part of Queensland than on your own two feet, and the top hikes in Brisbane can show you a side of Australia you wouldn't see any other way.
But before you set off to explore, don't forget to drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Brisbane. This will ensure you have a much better time exploring the natural wonders of Queensland, and your things will be safely waiting for you once you're ready to pick them up again. Drop off your things with Bounce and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
Our Top Hiking Trail Picks in Brisbane
Brisbane Forest Park
One of the best things about Brisbane is that you don't need to go far to get a glimpse of the Queensland backcountry. Brisbane Forest Park lies on the western edge of the city, but the moment you hit the forest trails and walking tracks of this popular park, you'll feel a long way away. This suburban park has plenty of day hikes to offer urban residents and visitors alike, including the trail through the rainforest to the top of Greene's Falls. The park also contains the Walk-About Creek Wildlife Center which is home to native Australian wildlife such as wallabies, platypus, and bandicoots. Once a standalone location, Brisbane Forest Park is now considered part of D'Aguilar National Park, and as such forms a kind of gateway to the Queensland backcountry.
D'Aguilar National Park
Located just outside the city of Brisbane itself, D'Aguilar National Park is the closest national park to any Australian city, making it an absolute must-visit for nature lovers who find themselves in Brisbane. The park covers nearly 400 km² or 150 miles², so you'll find nearly infinite trails to explore in this stunning place. As you follow the walking track through the forests and over the mountains of the National Park, you'll be treated to spectacular views of Moreton Bay. It's also a fantastic place to explore subtropical rainforest while remaining close to the city and everything it has to do.
The trails in this expansive park offer everything from an easy stroll to a challenging multi-day hike. For an easy introduction into what the park has to offer, try the Rainforest Circuit, which covers just under 2 km or 1.2 miles of fairly easy terrain, but gives you a chance to experience the local rainforest. If the Rainforest Circuit isn't enough of a challenge, you could try the Morelia walking track, which is generally easy going but has some steep spots. Covering 3.5 miles out and back, this walking track will take you through the forest and past wildflower meadows where you'll get expansive views of the surrounding countryside.
Also on the west side of the city of Brisbane close to Brisbane Forest Park, the Enoggera Reservoir provides an escape from the city that's nevertheless accessible by Brisbane public transport.
The Enoggera Reservoir provides water to the city and is also a popular place for outdoor recreation when the weather gets hot. There's an 11 km/6.8 mile Circuit trail around the reservoir and through the forest surrounding it. You'll see fascinating wildlife including birds and turtles, but keep an eye out for bikers and horseback riders. It's a great way to spend a couple of hours close to the city and provides enough of a challenge for intermediate hikers while still being not too difficult for beginners.
JC Slaughter Falls
Another rewarding hiking trail that's remarkably close to the city, JC Slaughter Falls is only seven kilometers or 4.3 miles from Brisbane CBD. However, thanks to its mountain location, it feels much further away than that. From the picnic area, you can take the Summit Track to the Mt Coot-tha lookout, which will give you incredible views of the city and the coastline beyond. There's also an aboriginal art trail and a spectacular waterfall to admire, and if you can time your visit around sunset, you'll experience the kind of stunning views that will be impossible to forget.
However, be warned that this trail and its breathtaking views are a long way from being a hidden gem. On a clear day, you'll have to share the trail with many locals from the surrounding suburbs who want to enjoy this popular walk. It's also a relatively short walk, covering just over five km or three miles there and back. However, the elevation gain of 156 m/511 feet is enough to get your heart pumping.
If you're looking for a slightly more challenging walk without straying too far from the city itself, the Lake Manchester Loop could be ideal for you. Located only 15 miles west of Brisbane, the loop around the lake covers an impressive 17 km or 10.5 miles. It's also quite hilly, making it ideal for intermediate hikers who want to test their skills. Don't forget to bring lots of water, because the creek crossings here are usually dry. With impressive views of D'Aguilar National Park on offer, this is a perfect place for moderate hikers to get some exercise without having to travel to the more outlying areas of Queensland.
Kondalilla Falls Circuit
If you like a hike that brings you into close contact with some water, Kondalilla National Park might be your ideal destination. Just over 100 km/62 miles from Brisbane itself, this park located in the Blackall Mountains is famous for its waterfalls, rivers, lakes, and swimming holes. The Kondalilla Falls Circuit is one of the most popular walking tracks in the entire park since it allows you to see the spectacular 300-foot plunge of Kondalilla Falls itself. Be warned, however, that there are 300 stairs to the bottom of the falls, and you'll need to climb back up them again to get back to your car. The trail is only 1.2 miles in each direction, but the steps and the uneven terrain make it more challenging than its length might suggest.
Springwood Conservation Park
This former quarry turned nature park is much beloved by Brisbane locals and a true hidden gem of the city. Here, you'll find a gorge and some impressive rock formations along with caves and cliffs that make this a fantastic place to explore. There's also intriguing wildlife including koalas and water dragons, and yet you can reach this park in only half an hour's drive from the city. If you don't mind working out your legs, you can climb the stairs to the lookout at 570 m/1870 feet, and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside. If that sounds a little much, you could try the Gorge Discovery Circuit at less than a mile long, but be warned. Even this short trail has 132 steps which locals call the Stairs of Death. As a result, this park is a good option for moderate or advanced hikers rather than beginners.
Lamington National Park
Sometimes, you just want to get away from it all. Lamington National Park, located a solid hour and a half drive from the city, allows you to do just that. While it takes a bit of a journey along the Gold Coast to get there, Lamington National Park justifies the journey with some truly stunning natural wonders.
Morans Falls is one of the most popular trails in this sprawling national park. Winding through lush rainforest and over volcanic lava flows, Morans Falls provides one of the most photogenic trails in the greater Brisbane area, which is high praise indeed when you consider what else is nearby. Located in the Green section of the park, this is an iconic adventure you shouldn't miss while you're in the area. Covering just under three miles with an elevation gain of around 600 feet, part of what makes this trail so popular is that it's accessible to just about anyone.
On the other hand, if you want a challenge, Lamington National Park has that, too. The Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk covers a staggering 54 km/33.5 miles one-way. You'll need not only advanced navigation skills but also wilderness survival skills to take on this challenging trail. It's recommended that you spend at least three days enjoying this trail, so it's difficult enough for even the most advanced hikers.
Springbrook National Park
Right next to Lamington, you'll find Springbrook National Park, a much smaller park that nevertheless has its share of worthwhile hiking trails. Try out Purling Brook, an easy 4 km/2.5 mile circuit that takes you to see a spectacular waterfall. You could combine the short walk with the equally scenic Twin Falls Circuit, which will take you to see more cascading waterfalls and adds another 2.5 miles to your distance, taking you to the floor of the gorge and behind the rushing waters of the waterfalls. Although it's a very easy hike to complete, the impressive scenery offers a mystical experience you won't get in many other places in the world.
Easy Hikes in Brisbane
Because of the tremendous variety of terrain around Brisbane, you can find hiking trails to suit just about any level. If you just want an easy walk that's enough to stretch your legs without being too taxing, Brisbane Forest Park has plenty of those, and its proximity to the city means you don't have to travel far. Since there is no admission charge, it's also one of the best free things to do in Brisbane. Alternatively, if you prefer something a little more remote, Springbrook National Park offers trails that are surprisingly easy considering the incredible scenery they offer along the way.
Intermediate Hikes in Brisbane
If you prefer more of a challenge, Springwood Conservation Park has a variety of trails that will push you. The rocky terrain and steep elevations will test your skills as you explore, and you'll get incredible views of the surrounding countryside. Alternatively, D'Aguilar National Park has enough trails to suit just about any experience level, from beginner to advanced.
Difficult Hikes in Brisbane
Brisbane is more or less surrounded by incredible natural scenery, so if you want to really test yourself against the wilderness, you can do that here. The national parks of D'Aguilar and Springbrook have some trails that will really test your mettle, and if you want the ultimate challenge, set out on the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk in Lamington National Park. This epic multi-day adventure is suitable only for the most practiced hikers but will reward you with a wilderness experience like no other.