Spotted Gum Trail
Mt Coot-Tha Forest
The Spotted Gum Trail is a walking track that connects the Brisbane Botanic Gardens to the Mt Coot-Tha Summit, taking hikers through 2.4km of magnificent eucalypt terrain within Mt Coot-Tha Forest.
Consciously designed with minimum impact to the environment, the scenic trail was built making use of some existing, informal paths, and includes the addition of four bridges across ravines and several series of steps.
If you’re starting at the base and working your way up, you’ll need to head to the forest access gate just beyond the lake in the Australian Plant Communities region of the Mt Coot-Tha Botanic Gardens. During the week (Mon-Fri), you can drive your vehicle in with limited parking nearby. If you’re heading in on a weekend, vehicular access isn’t an option so you’ll need to walk from the main carpark to the gate, adding 1.2km onto your walk (one way).
Just a few metres beyond the gates and into the forest, you’ll see the signs directing you to take a right-hand turn. This is the start of the Spotted Gum track. (If you were to go straight ahead, you would be on Citriodora Track which can be included if you’re after a true loop experience, but it will add on about another 2km and is quite hilly so make sure you plan for the extra time based on your fitness levels. Horse-riding is allowed on this part of the track)
Not far from this point, along a gradual incline, you’ll notice the track narrows slightly and you'll reach the first of many rises of stairs. Around 250 stairs, to be exact. But don’t worry, the stairs are not all in the one stretch so they're relatively easy to manage.
Hugging the hillside, the walking track traces along several ridges, and the bridges cross over gullies where water flows during the rainy season, ensuring the path can be enjoyed virtually all year round.
The majestic Spotted Gums (Corymbia maculata) that stand tall through this open bushland are home to many native birds and animals. Keep an ear out for their melodic songs and calls as they echo through the valleys. It’s not uncommon to hear the screech of cockatoos and shrill of the whip birds, to name just a couple.
Mountain biking is allowed through this part of the forest, so keep an eye out for riders as the bike tracks criss-cross and loop through sections of this scenic walking trail.
The last leg will see you take a right-hand turn at a T-intersection for the final assent to the top, bringing you out just across the road from the Mt Coot-Tha Lookout.
A great option is to catch your breath and enjoy the views from the Mt Coot-Tha Lookout, perhaps even while you wait for the next council bus that can drop you back down the mountain at the Botanic Gardens car park. But, if you've still energy to burn, make it a loop and retrace your steps - the journey always seems a shorter trip on the way back, not to mention you'll have the joy in knowing most of it is downhill.
Of course, exploring this trail can easily be done in reverse, with no time restrictions on needing to access the gate at the base of the trail to return into Mt Coot-Tha Botanic Gardens but does require you planning on walking back to the summit to where you parked your car.
It's important to note that whilst the Spotted Gum Trail is a wonderful, dog-friendly walking track (dogs must be kept on-leash), dogs are not actually permitted in the botanic gardens, so only plan to take your canine companions with you if you are starting and finishing via gazetted forest entry points.
Need to know – The Mt Coot-Tha Botanic Gardens gates are open between 8am and 4pm. Whilst there is a water bubbler just inside the Botanic Gardens gate at the base of the mountain, the next public water source is at the summit.
By Danella Perrins
Spotted Gum Trail
Mt Coot-Tha Forest