3 Days in Coolum: The Best Hiking on the Sunshine Coast
Breathtaking surrounds don’t need to leave you breathless when walking in nature on the Sunshine Coast.
For starters, you can take a short wander or long hike around our 100km of coastal foreshores that include many world-class beaches with golden sands and picturesque rocky headlands.
But there’s plenty of green behind the gold, too.
Residents and visitors alike can stroll along wide and flat paths through national parks and scenic reserves, cycle along completed parts of the 96km Sunshine Coast Coastal Pathway that stretches from Bells Creek in the south to Tewantin in the north, take in the tranquillity of a myriad waterfalls, make a beeline for coastal and hinterland lookouts or even take relatively easy climbs up mountains to their summits.
And many of the region’s most popular nature walks are in our own backyard in Coolum.
Mt Coolum is a monolith mountain with an impressive dome shape that rises 208m above sea level. The 800m summit walk is an easy climb for relatively fit people. The reward is the 360-degree panoramas of the coastline, surrounding suburbs and rural landscape. Nearby, the Mt Coolum Boardwalk winds through the Marcoola-Yaroomba Foreshore Bushland Conservation Reserve from Breezeway Street to the beach and is a favourite with wedding photographers for spectacular shots of Mount Coolum and the coastline.
The headland section is one of Australia’s most frequently visited national parks, with easy to access by foot – enjoyed by bushwalkers, nature lovers, picnickers and surfers alike. The 15km of tracks offer short and longer walks (many of which start and end at Noosa Headland day-use area) where you’ll find secluded beaches such as Alexandria Bay, waves crashing into rocks below Hell's Gates, surfers making the most of rolling swell at First Point, millionaires’ row at Sunshine Beach and varying surrounds from rainforest and woodlands to coastal heathlands.
Kondalilla National Park near Montville has one of the region’s most accessible waterfalls where Skene Creek drops 90m before snaking its way through the Obi Obi Valley. The whole trail is well-defined and maintained. The shortest walk from the grassed picnic area is the Picnic Creek Circuit (1.7km) to the natural rockpools at the top of Kondalilla Falls. The Kondalilla Falls Circuit (4.7km, including 100 steps) follows the Picnic Creek Circuit down the escarpment, past rock pools and a lookout. Walk through rainforest to the base of the waterfall and continue back up the ridge. You can swim in the rock pools at the top and bottom of the falls – a little chilly but best during the hotter months.
For slightly more adventure, try a hike to the top of one of the craggy peaks of the Glass House Mountains. The sixth tallest of the group of volcanic plugs at 253m, Mount Ngungun has a 2.8km, well-defined, Grade 4 summit walking track that is worth the climb for Instagram-able views of Tibrogargan, Coonowrin and Beerwah mountains. You’ll need to be moderately fit but there’s plenty to stop and look at to catch your breath along the way, including the forest vegetation, a rock overhang and caves. While in the area, drive to the Glass House Mountains Lookout and Picnic Area for an outlook over the peaks, Caloundra, Maroochydore, Brisbane and Moreton Island.
This area marks the extreme north of the 9km of Kawana Waters beach (with Currimundi Lake to the south) – one of the Sunshine Coast’s longest stretches of sand. Head up part of the Coastal Pathway boardwalk overlooking the ocean or the La Balsa Park footpath past trawlers and boats in the marina. Whether you head up to the lighthouse on the cliff or out along the flat path of the rock groyne wall to the beacon at the river mouth, you’ll find spectacular vistas of Mooloolaba, Mount Coolum to the north and Kawana Waters to the south.
When locals want to impress visitors, they take them to this Maleny treasure on the Blackall Range. Sit at picnic tables across from the Glasshouse Mountains tableau, meander the boardwalk that covers some of the 55ha of subtropical rainforest, learn about all the flora and fauna at the Rainforest Discovery Centre, kick a football in the park, or grab a bite at the on-site cafe.
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