Must do Brisbane: 6 ways to experience Mount Coot-tha

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The definition of a mountain is a steep-sided hill at least 600 metres above sea level. Though there aren’t technically any mountains in Brisbane, anything that vaguely resembles a slightly large hill is called a mountain.

In fact, Brisbane is surrounded by them: Mount Nebo, Glorious, Pleasant and the most famous of the lot, Mount Coot-tha at a staggering 287 metres high. Now that’s some vertigo-inducing stuff!

What it lacks in height though it makes up for in the number of recreational activities on offer from sunrise to well after sunset, and in Brisbane, people flock to it.

Mount Coot-tha forest has more than 1500 hectares of open eucalypt forest waiting to be explored, with picnic areas, creeks, and waterfalls plus over 31 kilometres of tracks.

Mt Cootha Brisbane

So ,what can you do there?

Mountain biking

If you get your kicks tearing along forests tracks, through streams, over jumps with death-defying descents, and enduring thigh-zapping climbs, then you’ll love the off-road MTB tracks here.

With over 12 kilometres specifically for riders, they’re well maintained and have water-fill points and toilets at every car park. Download the free MTB Guide and Trail Map here.

Road cycling

The Mount Coot-tha circuit is as close as Brisbane gets to the Tour de France, and every year the Coot-tha Challenge takes place with thousands of riders pitting their wits against the ‘hill’.

The gruelling 12-kilometre loop that climbs over 200 metres is extremely popular with local riders. From sunrise to sunset the whirr of gears, the whistle of carbon fibre and the panting of cyclists can be heard taking on its twisting slopes.

Trail walks/runs

Mt Coot-tha Run

If you love running but get bored pounding the concrete and tarmac of the city, give trail running a go. The smell of gum trees, scampering wildlife, and dusty tracks (or muddy from Feb – April) all make for a totally different experience. There’s around 50 kilometres of tracks to explore with routes to satisfy all levels of fitness. Download the complete tracks guide here.

Head out at sunrise and you’ll have only the cockatoos, pademelons and rays of sunlight breaking through the trees for company. Bliss.

Safety first! If you’re hitting the tracks of Mount Coot-tha, make sure you have ample water, a good map and don’t set off too late in the day. Sometimes the inclines take longer than you think.

Waterfalls and creeks

After heavy rainfall, the creeks and waterfalls around Mount Coot-tha are fantastic! The best places to watch the action are JC Slaughter Falls and Simpson Falls, both of which have safe access, car parks and picnic areas.

Mount Coot-tha lookout


Leave the sounds of the city behind and drive to the lookout car park and stare off into the distance towards Moreton Bay, Moreton Island, and on a clear day the skyscrapers of the Gold Coast.

If you’re an early riser, witness the sun breaking the horizon directly over the city, or at the other end of the day watch a fairyland of city lights twinkle as night-time comes alive.

Make sure you take a camera with you!

The Summit

Kuta Cafe and Gifts

Photo by Kuta Cafe & Gifts via FB

They say never go to a restaurant with a view, apparently the food is never as good as the outlook. Kuta Café and The Summit Restaurant, however, are well worth a visit.

Whether you’re there to refuel after a morning of exercise or for a romantic dinner, grab a table by the window or on the patio and try to concentrate on the conversation, not just the view!

What’s your favourite thing to do at Mount Coot-tha?

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  • David Francis

    Looks great Ben. I’m originally from Melbourne but looking to go north next winter ( Magnetic Island ) but might stop in Brisbane on the way to catch up with family. If so, will definitely be checking out these jogging tracks in Mt. Coot tha for sure. Just looking at the pics it reminds me of the Dandenong Ranges down here in Melbourne. Nothing like the smell of nature, especially the eucalypts on an early morning jog on a summer’s day. Cheers.

    • Sounds like a perfect plan, David! And nice choice for where to head this winter. Maggie is ace.

      • David Francis

        Thanks for that reply Ben. Yes, Maggie sure does look ace. but it’ll be interesting to see how much it would have changed since I was last there in 1982 believe it or not. So by the time I get there mid next year it will have been 35 years. A very long time. Still the decision of whether to spend a freezing cold and wet winter in Melbourne or a sunny one on Maggie with average temperatures in the mid twenties will not be a hard one to make.


        • Wow, yes, what a change in that time indeed! You’ll have to check back here and let us know your thoughts after your trip.