Keen to escape into dense subtropical rainforest? Bask in cool waterholes? Climb a mountain? Or stay by the coast with ocean views? Sunny Coast local Sarah Pendergrass has pulled together a list of the top places to hike on the Sunshine Coast.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Gubbi Gubbi people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


Let’s face it, the Sunshine Coast is a bush-to-beach hiker’s paradise. Year-round, you’ll find a whole heap of incredible hiking options, with winter offering up cooler temperatures and less humidity than the summer months, yet still plenty of dreamy blue sky days and sunshine – they call it the Sunshine Coast for a reason.

We also all know that hiking with your trail doggo is one of the most joyous ways to adventure (no hard feelings, cat lovers), so we’ve been sure to include a couple of pup-friendly spots too.

1. Emu Mountain

Location: Emu Mountain Summit Walk, Noosa National Park (accessed via Coolum Beach/Peregian Beach)
Distance: 1.1km return
Best for: Sunrise and sunset views

The little sister to its better-known and taller sibling Mount Coolum, Emu Mountain typically offers views without the crowds and a whole lot of bang for your hiking buck. You may also have heard it referred to as Mount Peregian, the Aboriginal word for emu.

It’s a top choice for sunrise or sunset, with 360-degree views east to the ocean and west to the hinterland, all with a modest, short climb to get to the top.



There’s little to no shade amidst this low-lying coastal heathland environment, so it’s also a great pick for the winter days when the sun is a little less relentless overhead.

Once you reach the summit, keep an eye out on the ocean for the signs of a tail or fin slap of migratory humpback whales from June onwards. If you’re really lucky, you’ll hear them before you see them.



After your hike, pop across the road to the beach for a dip or drive to neighbouring Peregian Beach and refuel with fish and chips and a cheeky beverage at Captain’s Daughter in the centre of town. 

Read more: Remember to leave no trace

2. Artists Cascades

Location: Artists Cascades, Conondale National Park
Distance: 10.6km return
Best for: Waterholes, wild swimming and post-hike doughnuts

Located on the 56km, four-day Conondale Range Great Walk, the hike from Booloumba Creek to Artists Cascades is a great way to dip your toe – so to speak – into this larger circuit.

Following the creek from the Booloumba Creek Day Use Area, the Artist Cascades hike is pure singletrack bliss. Wind your way through towering subtropical rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest, listening out for the falls of the cascades, just over 5km from the trailhead.



If art in nature is your jam, there are few rainforest hikes better than this one – offering several crystal clear waterholes, a waterfall to swim under, and a permanent art installation en route.



Just a short detour off the track, you’ll find the internationally renowned sculptor, Andy Goldsworthy’s ‘Stranglers Cairn’ on your way to the falls. Art lovers, you’ll have your cake and eat it here.

Talking of having your cake and eating it (last awkward segue I promise), no hike in this area is complete without a visit to the famous Kenilworth Bakery – home to an absolutely epic assortment of doughnuts to replenish all of those lost calories post-hike. Coffee served in a doughnut? Take my money!

3. Summer Falls (Long Day Hike or Overnighter)

Location: Summer Falls, Conondale National Park
Distance: 20km return, with a walkers’ camp option midway
Best for: Waterholes and off-grid camping

Fancy something a little longer (maybe even your first overnighter) without committing to the full Conondale Range Great Walk? 10km from the trailhead at Booloumba Creek, you’ll find yourself at the top of the beautiful Summer Falls.



The national park campsite, located at the top of the falls, is walk-in only and a simple and scenic option to get a taste for your first overnight hike.

You need to book ahead for the campsite as there are limited spots – but you’ll find an untreated water tank, toilet, and all of the serenity you could wish for, amidst Brushbox, Tallowwood, and White mahogany.

There’s no mobile phone reception, so just a heads up if you’re heading off for the night and want to let your mates know!

The hike is accessible by walking the whole route, or if you’re heading out with mates and a couple of cars, you can drop a vehicle at Charlie Moreland Campground (2WD access) before the hike, and walk back via Mount Allen or Summer Creek Road, freshening up with a dip in the creek at the end.

4. Mount Ninderry

Location: Mount Ninderry Summit Walk
Distance: 1.4km one way
Best for: Dog friendly hiking, sunrise and sunset views

So, your excitable trail dog is sitting waiting at the front door, ready for an adventure, with national parks being off the list (no domestic animals permitted), you’re wondering where to go. Well, good news, Mount Ninderry is a local favourite for a dog friendly hike.

Read more: 11 Dog Friendly Walks Near Brisbane



The mount is the subject of a Dreamtime story, telling of an epic battle between warriors Ninderry and Coolum. During the battle, Ninderry is said to have knocked off Coolum’s head. As punishment, Ninderry was turned to stone and now stands out amidst its otherwise flat, floodplain surroundings at 304m high.

The climb itself is just over 100 metres of pure incline, but the lookout at the top is a great place to take a moment and a few breaths at the start of the day while watching the sun rise over the ocean.

On a clear day, you can take in 360-degree views, including Mount Coolum to the east, the Glass House Mountains to the south, and Cooroora (the mountain at Pomona) to the north.

Gun Cotton Coffee Roasters at Yandina – ten minutes by car – is a hot tip for a post-hike brunch and a seriously decent coffee.

Read more: What to Pack in Your Hiking First Aid Kit

5. Ewen Maddock Dam

Location: Ewen Maddock Dam
Distance: 8km
Best for: Dog-friendly hiking and reservoir dips

For another dog-friendly option, head off from Ewen Maddock Park (where there’s also a designated swimming area) along the boardwalk which hovers over the reservoir itself.



Hike amongst a lovely fern and tree-lined singletrack section, before venturing deeper into the forest. Here, you can choose your own adventure – staying to the main track or checking out the pink and black loops.

The trails are typically wide and flat here, which is great if you’re looking for an easy hike in nature. With most of the walks being canopy-covered, it’s also a good option for a shady adventure.



The trails here are shared use, so there’s a high chance you’ll cross paths with mountain bikers and horse riders.

Depending on how you’re feeling at the end of your hike, there are BBQs readily available to cook up a quick sausage sanga’ or maybe even jump in the water for a dip.

6. Mount Ngungun

Location: Mount Ngungun Summit
Distance: 2.8km return
Best for: Glass House Mountain sunsets

The Glass House Mountains are a scenic standout on the Sunshine Coast. Think; huge, diversely shaped rocks poking out of the otherwise flat landscape around them.

Created as volcanic plugs 26-27 million years ago, they’re stunning to see from afar and even more fun to hike up and around.



For the more intrepid adventurer – Mount Tibrogargan can be hiked/climbed with caution.

Mount Ngungun however, is the absolute pick for an accessible hike, which arguably offers one of the best summit views. Hiking up before the sun goes down, you’re in for a stunning sunset scene, with the majestic Beerwah and Mount Coonowrin lining up in front of you.



It’s just a 1.4km hike from the car park at the base to the summit. Take care when you get to the ridge at the top! That being said, the exposure isn’t something to worry about if you’re reading the word ‘ridge’ and feeling nervous – this is the most accessible of all of the Glass House summit hikes.

7. Gheerulla Falls

Location: Gheerulla Falls, Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk
Distance: 3km (or extend to the 21km loop!)
Best for: Waterfalls

If you’re simply chasing waterfalls, drive to the trailhead entrance on Delicia Road and hike the 1.2km into Gheerulla Falls from there.

This spot is typically less visited than Kondalilla and you may well find you have the whole place to yourself.



The trail down to the falls is tree-lined and fairly straightforward; just remember that what goes down, needs to come back up again, so it’s an uphill hike back to the car!

If you’re feeling more adventurous and fancy a solid days hike, then take on the ‘Gherulla Loop’ of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk, continuing past the falls, on towards ‘the bluff’; climbing up to the walkers’ camp at Thilba Thalba, before following the Great Walk signs, back to Delicia Road before finally descending to your car.

This is a really satisfying and beautiful 21km loop, complete with switchback climbs, singletrack, several magnificent viewpoints over the valley below, and of course, Gheerulla Falls.

Read more: Greening Out on the Gheerulla Falls Circuit


8. Kondalilla Falls Circuit

Location: Kondalilla Falls Circuit
Distance: 4.7km
Best for: Waterfalls

Kondalilla was the first area in the Blackall Range to be recognised and protected – from as early as 1906 – and remains one of the most beautiful hikes in the hinterland.

Tackle this loop of lush, green trail; accompanied by the sound of Whip birds in the ancient trees and strangling figs towering above you.



Journey from the Obi Obi Lookout, which offers magnificent views down the valley, above the trees. Then by contrast, find yourself at the very foot of the waterfall, looking up to where you once stood – an impressive 90m drop to the valley floor.

It’s a short 4.7km loop, but beware it does include over 300 stairs as you venture into and out of the subtropical rainforest sitting below the escarpment.



On a rainy day, or equally, a day where shade is the go, this is a great choice as you’ll find yourself under dense canopy for much of the hike. If you’re already getting wet in the rain, why not jump in and wild swim in the rock pools with their own waterfall – only 2.4km return from the trailhead.

FAQs Sunshine Coast Hikes

Can I take my dog on all of the Sunshine Coast hikes?

No, dogs and domestic animals are not permitted in national parks and some other conservation areas. Please check before you hike.

How do I know which trails are open and accessible?

Trails around the Sunshine Coast are diverse and access may vary throughout the year depending on climate, rainfall, heat and trail maintenance; so where relevant, be sure to check the National Park website for the latest closures and alerts before you head off.

Will I have phone reception, or should I take a PLB?

You’ll be surprised how blissfully remote you can feel on parts of the Sunny Coast, so always make sure you’re hiking safely – considering the weather forecast and sun protection, carrying water, A PLB for longer hikes, and walking with mates or letting someone know where you’re heading if you’re off on a solo adventure.

It’s not unusual to find yourself out of phone signal in the hinterland, so take this into account and make good choices to stay safe while having fun.