Best next-level hikes, mountain climbs and waterfall walks on the Sunshine Coast

byLayne Whitburn from The Urban List -30 Jul 2018

So, you want an action-packed story for the office on Monday that rivals the past weekend’s wild shenanigans of Netflix, boxes of Maltesers (those addictive suckers will be the end of us!), and coffee sippin’ in your activewear?


Well you’ve come to the right place! Because we’ve uncovered some of the best hikes, climbs and bush walks on the Sunshine Coast, tried and tested, to get your heart racing, your face glowing and your activewear, well, a little worn in (after all, there’s only so much wear and tear that comes with café schmoozing).

So, what are you waiting for? Get your sneakers on and hit this list of bush tracks, waterfall walks, mountain climbs, and rainforest trails.

Mount Coolum

Judging by the amount of #mountcoolum posts, climbing Mount Coolum has to be one of the best hikes on the Sunshine Coast. But don’t let the smiley Insta photos fool you—a sneaky lo-fi or sierra filter can do wonders on a flushed face! This hike is actually #hard but if you can make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas that stretch from Noosa National Park down to the high rises in Caloundra and over towards the lush countryside beside the Maroochy River. Totally worth your sweat (and those tears).

Distance: 1.6km return
Time: Allow 2 hours return

Views from the top of Mount Coolum.
Views from the top of Mount Coolum. Photo: Jame Nagel.

Noosa Heads to A-Bay

It would be rude to visit Noosa and not drop by  Noosa National park. Because you simply cannot experience Noosa in all its glory without witnessing this slice of natural paradise. Okay, so you may have already seen the famous sights printed on a postcard, but experiencing it up close and personal? That’s a whole new level. Speaking of levels, there’s a track to suit everyone, from your triathlete wannabe bro to your shuffling nanna. But for a good hike where persistence pays off, our pick is the coastal track starting at Noosa’s renowned Main Beach and winding around past picture perfect Tea Tree Bay, the dramatically spectacular Hells Gates and ending at Alexandria Bay. For au naturel enthusiasts, this isn’t the time to be shy. A-Bay is a renowned nudist beach.

Distance: 4.2km return
Time: Allow 2 hours return

Tea Tree Bay
Tea Tree Bay

Mount Tibrogargan

Exploring the Glass House Mountains is an adrenaline junkie’s dream. There’s no shortage of outdoor adventure with numerous trails for walkers, mountain climbers, dirt bike riders, and even horseback riders scattered throughout the Glass House Mountains National Park. All intertwined around 11 rugged ancient volcanic peaks, it’s hard to choose favourites among some of the best hikes on the Sunshine Coast. But if we must, then Mount Tibrogargan is where it’s at! Standing at 364 metres tall, Tibrogargan comes in as the third highest peak behind Mount Beerwah and Mount Coonowrin. You’ll need to be well-prepared to tackle this beast preferably with previous rock-scrambling experience!

Distance: Tibrogargan Circuit 3.2km return
Time: Tibrogargan Circuit allow 1.5 hours return

Mount Tibrogargan
Mount Tibrogargan in the Glass House Mountains, Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

Kondalilla Falls

Kondalilla, the aboriginal term for “rushing water”, is just that. In fact, it’s 90 metres of rushing water plummeting into a gorgeous valley. If you’re after a real adventure, ditch the easy 1.7 kilometre Picnic Creek Circuit, even the moderate 3.2 kilometre Rock Pools walk, and get lost on the 4.7 kilometre Kondalilla Falls Circuit. This subtropical rainforest trail winds around chilled gorges and secluded rock pools with plenty of scenic lookouts along the way. Hint: Use this opportunity to take in the view, and some deep breaths too because once you reach the main event, you’ll need to take 300 stairs back up the mountain to return!

Distance: 4.7km return
Time: Allow 2 hours return

Kondalilla Falls.
Kondalilla Falls.

Mount Ngungun

Talk about being on top of the world! Mount Ngungun, in the Glass House Mountains, is 253m high and about a million metres of WOW. The 2.8 kilometre Ngungun walk offers plenty of instagramable highlights on your way to the top, and uninterrupted 360 degree views at the summit. The peak also offers amazing views of near perfectly-aligned Mount Coonowrin and Mount Beerwah, and is simply stunning when backlit at sunset. Equally captivating are the pine plantations, farmland and native forest spread out in a patchwork of green beneath you. Definitely boast-post worthy!

Distance: 2.8km return
Time: Allow 2 hours return

Credit: Jason Charles Hill
Credit: Jason Charles Hill Mount Ngungun, Glass House Mountains National Park

Mount Cooroora

Not a fan of long hikes? Keep it short and (not-so) sweet with Mt Cooroora’s 2 kilometre return trip. A 2 kilometre walk sounds a breeze, right? Wrong! Your legs will be shaking at the knees after tackling just 1 kilometre of this steep, strenuous hike. If you’re really feeling the burn and contemplating turning back early, get the grateful vibes flowing knowing that unlike those crazy fitness-y people who knock over Mt Cooroora in 20 minutes during the King of the Mountain challenge, you can take all the time in the world. And you won’t lose a medal for dallying. Amen to that!

Distance: 2km return
Time: Allow 2 hours return

Mount Cooroora. Home to the annual 'King of the Mountain' race held in July.

Mount Cooroora in Pomona, Noosa Hinterland
Mount Cooroora in Pomona, Noosa Hinterland

Mapleton Falls

Remember TLC’s 1994 smash, Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls? Well we challenge you not to hum that tune to yourself as you re-discover your zen at Mapleton Falls. Pop on your dancing shoes and take the 1.3 kilometre Wompoo Circuit deep into the rainforest and find out why this location is revered by local nature photographers.  From the viewing platform high above the Obi Obi Gorge and Mary River Valley, you’ll experience pure serenity! Be awestuck as Pencil Creek spectacularly plunges 120 metres into the natural rock pools below you and take in never ending views of the luxuriant green rainforest canopy.

Distance: 1.3km return
Time: Allow 1 hour return

Mapleton Falls National Park
Mapleton Falls National Park

Mapleton Falls National Park

Check out the Sunshine Coast’s Hinterland Tourism website if you’re looking for more options for walks in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland including walks in and around the Glass House MountainsMaleny, Mapleton, Kenilworth.

Article originally created by Layne Whitburn from The Urban List on 24 May 2017.

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