Queensland’s national parks are living examples of Australia’s ancient ecological and geographical history.

Brisbane is a conveniently located capital; the River City is the gateway to some of the country’s most spectacular coastlines, with the Gold Coast to the south and the Sunshine Coast to the north. Further inland, each of these spectacular coastal regions give way to hinterlands comprising of rising mountain ranges and a plethora of unique hiking opportunities just waiting to be explored.

We’ve pulled together five of the best hiking spots to visit on your next trip to Brisbane, all within a comfortable drive from the city or the coastal centres.

Lamington National Park

Sprawled over the McPherson Range, Lamington National Park is arguably one of the country’s most significant natural wonder and showcases the remnants of the ancient Gondwanan rainforest that once covered the entire Australian continent. The park is made up of two sections, the Green Mountains and Binna Burra, both of which are accessible by car. Each section offers up short walks or half-day or full day hikes which cater for a variety of fitness levels and provides visitors with the opportunity to explore temperate rainforest, running creaks and spectacular waterfalls.

Springbrook National Park

Further east on the McPherson Range, Springbrook National Park offers up a dazzling example of the region’s subtropical and temperate rainforests and eucalypt forest. Explore the natural bridge where thousands of ‘glow worms’ make their home and can be seen after sunset. Or take a hike through the forests to see firsthand the breathtaking waterfalls the park is famous for. The park is divided into four sections; the Springbrook section extends along the crest of the plateau, Mount Cougal section to the south east and Natural Bridge and Numinbah sections to the west. There are a variety of trails to suit all fitness levels, but walkers should pay attention to all official park signage, as entry to some of the creek and waterfall areas is prohibited here.

Girraween National Park

For something a little different, Girraween National Park is located in the Southern Down Region half way between Stanthorpe and Tenterfield and offers a unique peak into Australia’s ancient geological past. The park is dotted with granite boulders of various sizes that give credence to the region’s moniker, the Granite Belt, with Bald Rock and Balancing Rock being the most famous. There are several walks on offer at the park, from short rock scrambles to longer, full day hikes. While you won’t see the dramatic rainforest scenery of its flashier northern neighbours, Girraween's range of flora has found its home amongst the rocks and showcases a different but visually arresting kind of beauty.

Glass House Mountains

You’ll find the Glass House Mountains conveniently scattered along the route from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast. Mount Beerwah is the highest of these stunning volcanic peeks while Mount Tibrogargan is the most easily identifiable from the main highway; both provide stunning views from the summit, but experienced hikers only should attempt these treks, given the gradient and because there is quite a bit of scrambling and rock hopping required. If you’re after a challenging walker that doesn't involve suedo-rock climbing, head to Wild Horse Mountain which is easily accessible from the highway, or Mount Beerburrum, a little off further afield but well worth the visit.

Kondalilla National Park

Kondalilla National Park is nestled amongst the scenic Blackhall Range and is named for the spectacular Kondalilla Falls, which are the park’s most significant feature. Considered to be one of the most accessible waterfall systems in the north coast hinterland, Kondalilla offers a range of short and long walks, providing visitors with the opportunity to walk through tall, open eucalypt bush land, damper forest closer to the falls and if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the many species of fauna which call the park home. If you're feeling hot on your travels, inviting rockpools at both the top and bottom of the falls are open for swimming.