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Must-do Brisbane: 7 ways to experience Mount Coot-tha

Brisbane is surrounded by mountains: think 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!

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

What Mount Coot-tha lacks in height, 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.

Mount Coot-tha Brisbane

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

Mount 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 mud 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

Mount Coot-tha lookout Brisbane

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!

Brisbane Botanic Gardens

With cactus gardens, Japanese gardens, The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium and Insta-famous Tropical Dome to explore, you could easily spend a whole day inside the Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mount Coot-tha.

Brush up on your botany vocab with a free guided tours running Monday to Saturday at 11am and 1pm.

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

*This post was first published in 2013 and updated in August 2018.