Queensland is home to the Sunshine Coast that stretches from Caloundra, just north of Brisbane, up to the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park, and into the Hinterland through the Blackall Range.
Whether you are in the mood for coastal views or a mountainous rainforest canopy, this area offers a spoil of great walks and hikes, many of which can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Mt. Coolum is a steep 208-metre ascent and descent.
Mount Coolum, Coolum (1.6km return)
Mount Coolum is approximately 35km from the popular tourist destination of Noosa and about 6.5km from the central hub of Coolum. It is an isolated volcanic dome, and at 208 metres high, the hike to the top gives you 360-degree views of the Sunshine Coast. The most impressive angle overlooks the coastline from Double Island Point to Caloundra.
The track itself is 800 metres to the top and although not a great distance, it is recommended to allow for 1.5 – 2 hours return due to the steep climb. The path is beautiful, and large rocks create a staircase along the trail. It’s proximity to the coast and popular beach towns make it a favourite hike for visitors, but most especially it is frequented by locals engaging in their exercise routine. It is best to avoid this hike when it has been raining as the wet path becomes slippery and hazardous.
The Boardwalk Boulevard offers a stunning view of Mount Coolum.
Boardwalk Boulevard is another walk close to Mount Coolum that meanders through mangroves until you reach the point overlooking Coolum Beach. This walk offers a spectacular backdrop of the volcanic dome mountain, and the gentle undulation makes it easy for prams and little legs.
The Wilkinson Park to Peregian Beach is 7km long.
Sunshine Coast Coastal Pathway (96km)
The Sunshine Coast Coastal Pathway is a 96km path that wraps along the local coastline. It starts from Bells Creek, South of Caloundra near Pelican Waters, and goes all the way up to Tewantin, approximately 10km from Noosa. The Coastal Pathway consists of 11 sections: Pumicestone, Caloundra, Currimundi, Kawana, Mooloolaba, Maroochydore, Maroochy River, Marcoola, Coolum, Peregian, and Noosa.
One of my favourite sections on the pathway is between Marcoola and Coolum. There are many beautiful lookout points, including Point Perry, the Coolum Boardwalk, and Point Arkwright. At Point Arkwright, you may even be able to spot a sea turtle in the water!
Just outside the resorts near the Sunshine Coast Airport (e.g., the Ramada Marcoola Beach), you may be able to see Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos. The Coastal Pathway is a shared path and cycling is another popular way to appreciate the area.
The Coastal Walk through Noosa National Park offers views of secluded bays and coves.
Coastal Walk and Tanglewood Walk loop (7.1km), Noosa National Park
Another favourite for your ‘must-do’ list, is Noosa National Park, which offers multiple tracks along the coast with ocean views and also inland through native scrub and rainforest.
The Coastal Walk is a 10.8km return, with magnificent views of Tea Tree Bay, Granite Bay, Winch Cove, and Picnic Cove. You may also get lucky with spotting dolphins and koalas along this track and halfway on the return, there are wheelchair-accessible toilets and drinking water. There are more toilets at the car park entrance as well as picnic tables and BBQ facilities. However, these get rather busy during peak holiday times and weekends.
Another option for the Coastal Walk is to start from the southern end at Sunshine Beach. This walk goes all the way up to Hell’s Gate with the return via the same trail, or you can choose to continue along another track.
The southern section of Noosa’s Coastal Walk starts at Sunshine Beach.
The 4km loop of Tanglewood Walk follows a fairly well-shaded track through the forest to Hell’s Gate – arguably the best lookout in Noosa National Park. The return of this walk joins with part of the Coastal Walk, for approximately 3.1km.
The summit of Mount Cooroora is a steep climb, but the view over Noosa’s Hinterland is worth it.
Mount Cooroora, Pomona (2.3km)
Mt. Cooroora is located in Tuchekoi National Park, just outside the Hinterland township of Pomona. It is a steep 439m climb on very uneven ground with metal chain in some sections to assist your footing. It is challenging and only recommended for older children who have experience with hiking, but the sweeping views from the summit make the effort worthwhile. Allow around 1.5 – 2 hours for the 2.3km return trip and wear sturdy shoes, plus a hat and carry a water bottle or hydration backpack as it can get quite hot.
If you’re keen for some competition, the famous King of the Mountain Festival is an annual race from the Pomona town centre, up to the summit and back to the start/finish line. The race began over 40 years ago in 1979 when two mates made a bet over beers at the pub! Nowadays, it has grown to an event that overtakes the local area and attracts participants from across Australia and sometimes overseas.
The spectacular view from the 253m summit of Mount Ngungun.
Mount Ngungun (2.8km), Glasshouse Mountains National Park
Mt. Ngungun, pronounced ‘noo noo’ but known as ‘gun gun’, is not as steep as Tibrogargan or Beerwah and makes a good entry-level hike. The Glass House Mountains is a collection of 13 peaks with Ngungun being the sixth tallest. Other taller mountains in this area are Mount Beerwah (556m), Mount Coonowrin (377m), Mount Tibrogargan (364m), Mount Tunbududla (338m), Mount Beerburrum (278m), and Mount Coochin (235m).
This family-friendly hike takes approximately 1.5 – 2hrs and is 2.8km in length. Once at the top, there are 360-degree views and a marvellous vantage point over to the other volcanic mountains.
The partially shaded walk wraps around the eastern side of the dam.
Ewen Maddock Dam Main Track (8.1km one-way)
Ewen Maddock Dam is perfect for parents with younger children and offers a wide partially shaded path, and the views across the water make it a lovely day out. The most convenient parking place is at the Maddock Park car park. Depending on your point of access, the one-way track varies between 8.1km to 9.3km with the option to turn around at any stage. Dogs on leashes are allowed and being a shared trail, it’s a good idea to remain mindful of horse riders and cyclists.
Extend the Tunnel Track hike by exploring some of the intercepting trails.
Tunnel track (6.2km return), Dularcha National Park
Dularcha National Park is near Landsborough, which is approximately 80km north of Brisbane and 20km west of Caloundra. Famous for the historic railway tunnel which was built in 1891 and is 94 metres long. The tunnel is now a popular roost for bats and although you can quietly walk through it, there is also the option to go over the top.
The Tunnel Track is a 6.2km multi-use trail for walking, cycling and horse-riding, and while it is wide with a gentle incline, it does have intermittent uneven and rocky terrain. In Dularcha National Park there are many other walking trails, including the Roses circuit and intercepting side-tracks such as the Ridge track, Gully track, Myla track and Connection track. It’s best to avoid the area after heavy rain due to potentially impassable muddy patches.
The Sunshine Coast has always lured visitors with its sub-tropical climate and sandy beaches, but the many walks, hikes and outdoor activities on offer make it irresistible for locals and tourists alike!
Have you ever been to the Sunshine Coast and if so, which trails did you explore?
About the writer...
Sabrina is an avid hiker from Brisbane. She hikes as a way to unwind after a busy week working as a Guidance Officer. She’s explored many of the popular tracks around South East Queensland and is always up for a bigger challenge! She has a long list of hikes she would like to do around Australia and overseas in the future.