Scenic hikes to smash out in a morning

Feel like getting up and at it to kick-start the weekend – but just for a morning? Get out and about with this list of shorter, under three-hour hikes to re-energise with. Fresh air, fitness and a view to boot all within driving distance of Brisbane. But the real kicker? We’ve got a super-sweet brunch or lunch suggestion to reward yourself afterwards. Now that’s what we call motivation.

Click through these links to north or south or stay in the city. 

Head north

Morelia Track, D'Aguilar National Park

Couple walk through D'Agular National Park

It’s amazing how quickly the concrete jungle fades away, replaced with towering lush, green subtropical rainforest. The Morelia Track takes you from the Manorina car park up to the Mt Nebo Lookout, with views out over Samford Valley and Moreton Bay. The 6km return path is well-maintained and easy to follow if occasionally steep, and takes around two hours to complete. Keep an eye out for leeches though.

Where to eat: Drop into the JM Jones Tearooms for cake and tea, but most importantly to feed wild King Parrots. Nearby on Mt Nebo, Café Boombana serves up classic breakfast or lunch options on weekends. 

Greenes Falls Track, D'Aguilar National Park

Pass over rainforest pools on your way to the lookout near Greenes Falls. Keep an eye and an ear out for wildlife along the route, which is just two-hours return. Just be aware that the cruisy downhill approach turns into an uphill hike on the way back.

Where to eat: Mt Glorious has a few secrets. One of them is Cloverlea Cottage, a stylish spot to drop in for breakfast on weekends or lunch Wednesday to Monday with bushland views. The other secret is Elm Haus, a Hansel & Gretel-style wooden cottage, filled with quirky objects like knight’s armour and a crocodile skull – though it's only open on weekends. 

Chermside Hills and Milne Hill Circuit, Chermside

Surprise surprise – there’s more to Chermside than the Westfield shopping centre. Escape from the suburbs, the traffic and the bustle of modern life with this 7.1km, two-hour return track. You’ll likely stumble upon wallabies on this straightforward walk – but be careful at the gully crossing.

Where to eat: Duck into Westfield Chermside’s restaurant precinct for a quick burger at Betty’s Burgers, share plate feed at Bin 931 or beer tower and schnitzel at The Bavarian.

Tinchi Tamba tracks, Tinchi Tamba Reserve Wetlands

For a water hike, grab a kayak and head to the Tinchi Tamba Wetlands for a paddle through the wetlands. Island Trail takes you 4km out through the islands and channels on a high tide but care of the shallows at low tide. Eagle Trail’s a 9km paddle down the Pine River and into Bald Hills Creek that’ll let you explore the channels as you go. This one’s perfect for birdwatching the shy mangrove forest species from the water. Island Circuit and Birdhide Track are short walking tracks – it’ll take two hours, tops, to do them both.

Where to eat: Wes’ Café in Brighton is a local staple with all-day breakfast and probably the city’s friendliest owner. Panama Jack’s Steak & Rib House is open from 11.30 for lunch and dinner every day of the week and serves its specialty with pride. 

Honey Track and Thylogale Track, Mt Nebo

For the Honey Track, park at Bullocky’s Dam, just past Jolly’s Lookout, for this beautiful walk along forestry roads. Wander through the mossy rainforest to the sounds – and sights – of bellbirds before the eucalypts. Enjoy the valleys and views of Lake Manchester in the distance on this 13km, three-hour return trip.

Also on Mt Nebo, Thylogale Track is a fantastic family expedition. Flat and gorgeous, the walk is 4km one-way and you can descend down the road, but it’s safer to just go back the way you came for an 8km round trip. Takes about two hours.

The Flying Nun

Where to eat: Trek back down the mountain and dine at The Flying Nun Café for an upscale lunch inside an old church. Samford Village also has plenty of great cafes. 

Gold Creek Circuit, Enoggera Reservoir

This adventurous 10km hike is one of Brisbane’s hidden gems, rarely explored by even the locals. Just off marked trails, this track begins along some ridges that might be physically demanding though it evens out not long after. Mostly just take left turns at the junctions – just backtrack if you hit the lake – then catch some of that suburban bliss as you walk back through the streets. Allow two hours.

Where to eat: Grab a picnic hamper for two from the Green Tree Frog Café and relax by the lake. 

Boondall Wetlands, Boondall

This one’s an easy, very flat (and wheelchair or pram-friendly) walk through perhaps Brisbane’s best wetlands. Indigenous totems pockmark the wetlands in a celebration of storied culture, the foliage changes every few hundred metres, and a diverse range of amazing wildlife are reason enough to keep the cameras ready. At the end of the walk, a bird-watching hut is a good spot to rest and find out more about the bird life.

Where to eat: Local celebrity chef Dominique Rizzo uses the best local and seasonal produce at her cafe, Putia. Drop in for breakfast or lunch, stay for a cooking school. If it’s after noon, drop into local craft brewery All Inn Brewing Co for a cooling, full-flavoured ale. Rotating food trucks pull up outside to mix it all up a little. 

Red Beach to Woorim, Moreton Bay

This Bribie classic takes you across the waterfront on the sand for a romantic mid-morning walk. The 6km return trip’ll need two-and-a-half hours and is easier on the hard sand than the soft. Best bet is to aim closer to low tide as the high tide can lap at the treeline. Ospreys, dolphins and turtles play in the water near the shore all along the walk.

Where to eat: Tuck into the beachside classic fish and chips with The Crab Pot at Woorim or find Kai Café and Restaurant on the other side of the island for a casual lunch by the water.

Head south

Mt Cordeaux, Main Range National Park

A gorgeous, energetic walk that’ll get you puffing if you’re not super-fit, Mt Cordeaux’s peak is inaccessible, so this walk ends at the lookout. From there, you’ll find incredible views starring down the length of Main Range National Park. They don’t call it the "Scenic Rim" for nothing. The hike is about two-and-a-half hours return, so it’s your choice whether to tack the extra 40 minutes on for the walk to Bare Rock. Do pencil this hike in for spring when the spectacular giant spear lilies are in flower.

Where to eat: You’ve come this far. Switch into your Sunday best and pop down the road to Spicers Peak. After travelling the 12km driveway through the estate’s own nature reserve, sit down to a fancy three or five-course lunch at Peak Restaurant. Cheers to the views from the plateau.

Mt Edwards, Moogerah Peaks National Park

Situated on the edge of Lake Moogerah, a walk across the dam wall leads you to the beginning of the track. Best done in the morning, steep uphill sections will be completely worth it once you see the views. A round trip takes around two-and-a-half hours if you don’t linger at the top, but feel free to. Consider pitching a tent at Lake Moogerah Caravan Park and watch the stars by a campfire the night before – it will certainly make doing a morning hike more convenient.

Where to eat: Afterwards drop into the Lake Moogerah Café, where a juicy, homestyle hamburger will set you back just $7, or drive around to the Kooroomba Lavender Farm & Vineyards for a long lunch with wine followed by a run through purple fields. 

North Gorge Walk, North Stradbroke Island

North Gorge Walk, North Stradbroke Island

Breathtaking ocean views along a coastline dotted with native eucalypt forest and curious wildlife and marinelife make the North Gorge Walk a must. This super short 1.5km walk only takes about 45 minutes, weaving down into the gorge itself before twisting back up towards Point Lookout again. Along the way, spot dolphins, turtles, manta rays and whales out in the Pacific Ocean.

Where to eat: Conveniently located at the start of the track, Oceanic Gelato & Coffee Bar is known for its fresh gelato using exotic tropical fruits. For a full-blown breakfast or lunch, try Look Beach Bar Café.

Ironbark Track, Spring Mountain Forest Park

This 6km return track follows an old lumber road, cutting behind Springfield Lakes. This wide trail’s populated by kangaroos and birds among the treeline. If you continue past the "official" end sign, you’ll get to the edge of Spring Mountain Forest Park. Just be careful of traffic every so often.

Where to eat: Meander into Springfield afterwards for a health kick from Lotus Café or find Journeys Kitchen and Bar for a modern Australian lunch. 

Koala Bushland tracks, Brisbane Koala Bushlands

Brisbane Koala Bushlands

This series of three tracks takes between one hour and two hours, with two designed for horseback adventuring. Wander through one of Australia’s most important eucalypt forests and marvel at the understorey of native grasses and wildflowers. You’ll find the koalas themselves sleeping in the trees and keep an eye out for swamp wallabies. Horse riders must give way to bushwalkers at all times.

Where to eat: Duck into the Jolly Swagman Café in Rochedale for a pie and pastry, carb-heavy feed on the way through.

Karawatha Forest, Karawatha

Karawatha Forest

If you find yourself at Karawatha and can’t find somewhere to walk away the morning, we’re not sure we can help. The forest has a series of intersecting tracks that take, individually, up to an hour. The Curtisii Trail leads to the highest point in Karawatha but be cautious around the unfenced cliff edges. The Banksia Track speaks for itself and connects with the Dianella, Wallum and Dentata tracks for a longer walk through this stretch of bushland, home to rare plant and animal species.

Where to eat: Slide into Slacks Creek for southside Lebanese and shisha with a Texan spin from Rocky’s Restaurant and Café

Toohey Forest, Mt Gravatt

Toohey Forest

Right in the heart of the Southside, the Toohey Forest tracks wind through sandstone outcrops and eucalypt forests. Koalas, echidnas and gliders live in the forest so keep an eye out. The Toohey Ridge Track runs for 3km and takes about an hour to complete and carries you along a ridge beside the South East Freeway and the bikeway.

Where to eat: Head atop Mt Gravatt for food at The Lovewell Project cafe. This profit-for-purpose eatery partners with the Hope Foundation to change one woman – and one hungry stomach – at a time. Kid-friendly, if that helps (or hinders).

Lower Bellbird Circuit, Lamington National Park

As you’d expect in Lamington National Park, the Lower Bellbird Circuit is a smooth walk with plenty of wildlife and two amazing Scenic Rim lookouts. A 12km return trip’ll take around three hours but you can dawdle or return via the Caves Circuit to really fill a morning or afternoon. Start the information centre and head clockwise to finish at Binna Burra before walking back down the road.

Where to eat: Grab breakfast beforehand at the Cliff Top Dining Room, open from 7.30-9.30am, for a hearty country style meal served as a buffet and paired with gorgeous Coomera Valley views.

Witches Chase, Tamborine National Park

Witches Falls formed Queensland’s first national park, gazetted in 1908 and this trail leads through the heritage rainforest of red cedar and eucalypts up to the Falls lookout. This 2.7km walk takes about 90 minutes but if you want to really get your heart pumping, take the Witches Falls Circuit for another 3km. Go after recent rain for the best waterfall views.

Where to eat: Trek to the Tamborine Mountain Main Western Rd for heaps of food options. In particular, try the Elevation Café for wholesome homestyle eats or Drift for a creative global menu in the hinterland.

Lower Portals, Mt Barney National Park

For a gorgeous adventure through Mt Barney National Park, take the Lower Portals track. The walk is a little challenging, with gradients in places, and largely consists of ascending and descending ridges before you’ll find the views you came looking for. Post-rain is ideal as the Mt Barney Falls will swell and cascade just like your Instagram followers want them to.

Kooralbyn Valley Kitchen

Where to eat: Venture into Kooralbyn east of Mt Barney to find the Valley Kitchen for affordable cafe meals from local producers. 

Wickham Peak Calytrix Circuit, Plunkett Conservation Park

This sandstone adventure climbs to top of Wickham Peak and offers views of Brisbane to the north and Mt Barney to the south. You’ll pass through heath country with wildflower displays in season. This 7km return trip takes about two hours and is spot-on for a simple walk in the sunshine.

Where to eat: Drive back through the south and swing through Yatala for Yatala Pies – seriously the best in Queensland. Grab a family pie to take away and bake at home or chow down on-site with one of your own.  

White Rock Multiuser Trail, White Rock Conservation Area

White Rock Spring Mountain Conservation Estate

This simple Ipswich walk doesn’t have a whole lot to see before you make it to the White Rock itself. This 6.5km walk will take about two hours as a round trip. Climb the stairs at Spring Mountain for stunning Lockyer Valley views. The White Rock is culturally significant to the Aboriginal people of the area so please don’t climb it.

Where to eat: Keep heading west to the 40 West Café and Bar for good food in an open plan dining area next to an art aquativity playground. This whole walk and eat experience is perfect for the whole fam. 

Around the city

Honeyeater Track or Curlew Ironbark Circuit, Mt Coot-tha

Sunrise at Mt Coot-tha

Starting from just near the Mt Coot-tha Lookout, the Honeyeater Track will take you through native bushland down to Fleming Rd, The Hut Environmental Centre and Chapel Hill Road. You’ll see water dragons, butterflies and birdlife along this 4.3km, 90-minute round trip walk.

Technically a combination of two tracks – the Curlew and Ironbark Circuits – this track’s a 3km return and takes about an hour from Gap Creek Rd on the western side of Mt Coot-tha.

Where to eat: At the top, Kuta Café is the pick for epic city views and offers a basic breakfast or lunch menu. Alternatively, head downhill and eat near the base at 85 Miskin Street – the four-course breakfast degustation here is a right treat. 

Simpson Falls and Eugenia Circuit, Mt Coot-tha

Beginning at the Simpson Falls Picnic Area, this track takes you to the falls from both sides. Follow the Simpson Falls circuit to the top of the falls then take the left at the first junction afterwards for the Eugenia Circuit to wrap you around the other side. In late winter and early spring, wildflowers bloom in the understorey. This 4km walk will take you about 90 minutes.

Where to eat: Stop in at Sprout French BYO Café or Salt Food and Wine Restaurant for modern Australian eats afterwards.

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