Swap the swimmers for some walking gear and discover some of the most spectacular National Parks on the Gold Coast, easily accessible and waiting to be explored.
If I had to describe the Gold Coast National Parks in a word, it would be: breathtaking
Subtropical rainforests, mountainous ranges that date back millions of years, and epic waterfalls are some of what you’ll come to discover when you embark on a journey in the Gold Coast hinterland.
Whether you choose to visit the Gold Coast National Parks to tick an item off your bucket list, clock up a few more steps for the day, switch off from the day-to-day grind or to become reacquainted with nature, you’ll find walks well suited for everyone.
Below you will find which National Parks on the Gold Coast are the most popular. The guide also includes National Park maps and walking tracks with grades, so you know what is suitable before venturing out. Continue reading to find it all!
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Featured Image: Curtis Falls © Tourism and Events Queensland
Top National Park Gold Coast Track Grades
The classification below of the grades was sourced from Queensland National Parks website and refers to the difficulty of the track with Grade 1 requiring no bushwalking experience and moving up to Grade 4 for those with bushwalking experience.
Grade 1 track (easy)
- No bushwalking experience required.
- Flat, even surface with no steps or steep sections.
- Wheelchair-accessible track with handrails at the lookout.
Grade 2 track (easy)
- No bushwalking experience required.
- Easy level track, suitable for all fitness levels.
- All junctions signposted and may include interpretive signs.
Grade 3 track (moderate)
- Some bushwalking experience recommended.
- Tracks may have short steep hill sections, a rough surface and many steps.
- Distinct tracks with junctions signposted.
Grade 4 track (hard)
- Bushwalking experience recommended.
- Tracks may be long, rough and very steep with muddy sections likely to be encountered.
- Limited signage.
LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK
Lamington National Park Gold Coast sprawls for over 20,000 hectares and contains over 320 kilometres of walking tracks.
It is one of the four National Parks that make up the Gondwana World Heritage-listed area. Known for its mountain views, ancient trees and incredible wildlife population this stunning wilderness area contains many half-day or full-day walks for those wanting an added challenge.
The two sections of the National Park are Green Mountains (which is where you’ll find O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat) and Binna Burra.
How to get to Lamington National Park (O’Reilly’s)?
Passing through Canungra via Nerang you will travel at least another 50 minutes on a windy mountainous road. The passing farms soon change into rainforest landscapes as you approach O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK WALKS
Lamington National Park Walks Map
The below are short to half-day walks from Green Mountain (O’Reilly’s)
1 | Centenary Track
Grade 1 (easy)
Distance return – 1.8 kilometres
Starting from the northern end of Green Mountains car park walk past tall pines until you slowly descend into the subtropical rainforest. Relax on one of the bench seats available along the track and admire the birdlife, with over 160 species found in this area.
2 | Rainforest Return
Grade 2 (easy)
Distance return – 1.4 kilometres
Passing large boulders that were created over time by weather patterns, follow Border Track for 700 metres through the rainforest. Another fabulous place to spot the local bird population that call Lamington National Park home.
3 | Python Rock Track
Grade 3 (moderate)
Distance return – 4.9 kilometres
Booyongs, figs and New England Blackbutt trees are some of the forest life you can expect to see on your way to Python Rock Lookout and are what shelters you from the sun as you walk the trail. Upon the lookout marvel at the valley that has been carved over time as you enjoy the views of Morans Falls, Castle Crag and Lost World.
There are also two short walks starting from O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
4 | Booyong Walk (Lamington National Park Tree Top Walk)
Distance return – 800 metres
Found opposite O’Reilly’s reception area, the Tree Top Walk is made up of nine suspension bridges that stand 16 metres above the rainforest floor. You will find yourself immersed in nature as you walk along the connected bridges being able to admire the National Park from a bird-like perspective.
For those who don’t mind heights, an added feature of this walk is the viewing deck that is constructed in a Strangler Fig and soars 30 metres above the ground.
5 | Wishing Tree Track & Micks Tower
Distance return – 2.4 kilometres
The entrance to the Wishing Tree Track is found below the main guesthouse. The track down to the wishing tree is on a slight decline where you will be surrounded by ancient rainforest trees, strangler figs, and unusual fungal formations.
Another suspension bridge can be found along this track covering a tree-fern gully before you reach the wishing tree and a crossroad. From the wishing tree, a turn to the left takes you into Glow Worm Gully or continue straight ahead to Moran’s Creek.
The most straightforward route home is to retrace your steps, but this walk can also be extended by travelling back via Red Road or Moran’s Falls. Mick’s Tower is a rainforest observation tower standing 18 metres high and shares the same entrance as this track for those who want to see more of the rainforest from above.
SPRINGBROOK NATIONAL PARK
Springbrook National Park Gold Coast is the place to visit if you want to tackle a couple of walks within a day.
The National Park is comprised of four sections – Springbrook, Natural Bridge, Mount Cougal and Numinbah. Part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage area, covering just over 6,500 hectares, expect to see subtropical and temperate rainforests, fabulous views from several lookouts and the most impressive waterfalls on the Gold Coast.
The walks in Springbrook National Park range from 300 metres to 54 kilometres in length. The later, being the famous Gold Coast hinterland great walk, for those hiking enthusiasts.
BURLEIGH HEAD NATIONAL PARK
Burleigh Heads or just Burleigh is a famous Gold Coast destination that is popular for visitors and locals alike. The area is a refuge for families as playgrounds are dotted along the foreshore, and sprawling green lawns are a perfect place for a picnic.
The beach beckons young and old, while the waves around the headland are where you’ll always spot keen surfers. The Burleigh Heads National Park walk is one of the most popular trails, due to its location and accessibility to many other activities.
How to get to Burleigh National Park?
Located in the middle of Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta, if you are travelling on the Pacific Motorway take the Burleigh Heads exit. The northern entrance to the National Park is at the end of Goodwin Terrace.
Burleigh Heads National Park Map
BURLEIGH HEADS WALKING TRACK
1 | Burleigh Head National Park Ocean View Walk
Grade 2 (easy)
Distance return – 2.4km
The cream of the crop for many is the Burleigh Headland walk. Wrapping itself around the headland like a ribbon on a present walk through a rainforest environment while admiring the ocean and watching for wildlife encounters.
The track follows the rocky headland around to Tallebudgera Creek, where you can return via the same path or via the Rainforest Circuit.
2 | Rainforest Circuit
Grade 3 (moderate)
Distance return – 2.3km
During whale season venture up to Tumgun Lookout where you have the best chance to spot these magnificent animals offshore while enjoying the natural surroundings of Burleigh Heads National Park. This viewing point is located along Rainforest Circuit, which is predominantly easy walking, apart from the steep section near the Burleigh Heads lookout.
TAMBORINE NATIONAL PARK
How to get to Tamborine National Park Gold Coast?
Easily accessed from the Gold Coast the drive to Mount Tamborine is nothing short of scenic as you travel through rainforest environments on windy mountainous roads.
There are alternative routes to reach Tamborine Mountain with two being: Travel via Beenleigh (exit 35) and follow state route 92 along the Beaudesert Beenleigh Road, or take a direct route through Oxenford following the signs up Tamborine-Oxenford Road.
Tamborine National Park Walking Track Map
MOUNT TAMBORINE WALKS
1 | Curtis Falls Mount Tamborine
Grade – 3 (moderate)
Distance Return – 1.1 kilometres +
The Curtis Falls walk captivates visitors from the very beginning as you make your way through a eucalypt forest of soaring gum trees that stand as high as the rainforest canopy.
The walk is easy grade until the lookout point and can be accessed with a stroller. After the lookout, there are numerous stairs as you descend into the lush rainforest environment with crows nest and staghorn ferns hanging in the canopy.
Hear the rush of water as you move towards the forest floor. Once you descend, the stairs follow the track left to the falls. The rainforest will slowly part to showcase Curtis Falls draped in sunlight tumbling into the rock pool below.
Pro Tip: The lower track is a circuit, but there is no bridge to cross the creek at the halfway mark. The large boulders in the stream will help you cross to the other side, or you may prefer to turn back at this point and return via the same path. If crossing, always proceed with caution.
2 | Cedar Creek Falls
Lookout – Grade 1 (easy)
Rock Pools – Grade 3 (easy to moderate)
Distance Return – 500 mts to Lookout or 1.1 kilometres to rock pools
Strollers or wheelchairs can travel on the path to the lookout for views of the gorge, waterfalls and rock pool. With picnic and BBQ facilities nearby, choose to stay and enjoy the peaceful scenery or continue down to the rock pools for a refreshing dip.
The path from the lookout point to the rock pools is a mixture of gravel and steps as you descend into the forest weaving your way around the track until reaching the falls.
Cedar Creek Falls cascades over the rocks and fills the rock pools underneath, and the only access to the falls is via the sloped rock shelves. Swimming is a popular past-time at these falls, and the car park is limited so arrive early for prime position.
3 | Witches Falls
Grade – 3-4 (moderate to hard)
Distance Return – 3.6 kilometres
If you want a selfie with a giant tree, then you need to explore the Witches Falls track in Mount Tamborine. Immerse yourself in nature as you walk through subtropical rainforest, home to red cedar trees, strangler figs, and low-lying shrubs.
After the rain, you may see the lagoons along the track come to life, and the ordinarily dormant Witches Falls cascade into the valley below. The best viewpoint of the falls is from a lookout area that is 200 metres off the main track.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- Always read the important signs
- Check the weather report before venturing out on a walk
- Review the Queensland National Parks website to see if there are any closures or dangers
- Entry into the above National Parks are FREE
- Springbrook and Lamington National Parks are open 24 hours a day, though for safety reasons it is recommended to visit during the day.
- Burleigh Heads National Park is only open in daylight hours.
- Supervise children at all times, and stay away from cliff edges.
- Check and obey all signage in regards to the water as swimming is prohibited in some of the creek beds and rock pools. It is also important to note for your safety never to dive or jump into water that allows swimming.
- Stay on the walking tracks for your safety and to preserve the environment.
Pro Tip: Check out the walking essentials below before you set off on a walk or hike.
- Due to the environment of some of the National Parks, the temperatures can be 5-8 degrees cooler, and the weather can change quickly, which is where a jumper and raincoat may be useful.
- Pack a water bottle and a sufficient amount of food, even if you are only venturing on a short walk.
- You will want to take a camera, as there will be many opportunities for a great photo in the National Parks.
- There will not be many bins provided in some of the National Parks, and a small bag to collect all your rubbish will help with leaving the park in pristine condition.
- Sunscreen, a hat, insect repellent will warn off harmful rays and mosquitoes.
- Sensible shoes and clothing will make the walk more enjoyable.
LEAVE NO TRACE
Before you start exploring a National Park, it is essential to consider how we can enjoy, but still, preserve the area for future visitors. In the 90s seven principles became officially recognised with the slogan “leave no trace” which is referring to creating minimal impact on the environment you are visiting. The seven principles are as follows.
- Plan in advance and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimise Campfire Impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of others
Tell me in the comments below which National Park you plan to visit.
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