Where are the best trail running spots in Brisbane?

The Sunshine State is home to some of the country’s best hiking and running trails, and whether you love hitting the beach or getting lost in native bushland, you’re guaranteed to find a track to suit your style.

We’ve done the research for you to help locate the top trail running spots in Queensland, focusing on the two biggest metropolises in the state, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. New to trail running? Check out some trail running shoes that will keep you on track (mind the pun). 

The River Loop – 6.5km - 10km

One of the most popular Brisbane trail running spots, the River Loop wraps around part of the Brisbane River, offering a nice mix of city views and parkland escapes.

The shorter 6.5km loop starts from the Brisbane City Botanical Gardens and heads north past Eagle Street Pier, then crosses back over the Story Bridge.

Run through Kangaroo Point, keeping the river on your right and back to the Goodwill Bridge. Head over that and finish back up at the Botanical Gardens.

If you still have energy once you get to the Goodwill Bridge, you can continue on towards the Kurilpa Bridge and cut back to the other side of the river, eventually meeting up at the Gardens to make an enjoyable 10km loop.

This is a great run at any time of day, and with it being mostly flat, it’s suitable for people of all fitness levels. If you want a real challenge though, hit the stairs at the Kangaroo Point Cliffs.

Brisbane city from the top of Kangaroo Point cliffsBrisbane city from the top of Kangaroo Point cliffs
Kangaroo Point cliffs offer an incredible vantage point over Brisbane

North Stradbroke Island – 10km

We can still call this a Brisbane trail running spot, as it's within easy reach of the city. Within the Naree Budjong Djara National Park on North Stradbroke Island is a network of trails that can form a 10-kilometre network for those seeking an escape from the city and a true trail running experience. 

Leaving from the Blue Lake car park, these trails are ideal for spotting some of the island's 1,742 species of animals, whether they be bottlenose dolphins out in the distant ocean or flittering robins, goldfinches, and sparrows up in the tree tops. 

A kangaroo standing on an ocean cliffA kangaroo standing on an ocean cliff
North Stradbroke Island is a haven for wildlife

Mount Coot-tha Loop – 10km

Head out of the city and into nature with this gorgeous 10km-loop around Mount Coot-tha, just 20 minutes outside of Brisbane.

Start your run from either the Brisbane Lookout or the J.C. Slaughter Falls, both of which are easy to get to from the city, and run in either direction to hit the trail.

Brisbane view from Mount Coot-thaBrisbane view from Mount Coot-tha
The view from Mount Coot-tha will change how you look at Brisbane

Once you enter the bushland it’s easy to forget you’re so close to Queensland’s capital, and despite the trail’s popularity, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to be completely on your own.

There are quite a few gentle hills to tackle along the way and plenty of diversions throughout Mount Coot-tha, so if you’re looking to push yourself there’s no shortage of choices.

If you’re planning on using public transport take a bus from the city to Mt Coot-tha summit and run down from there.

Burleigh Heads to Surfers Paradise – 15km

There’s no shortage of beautiful running routes down in the Gold Coast, but if you’re looking for a classic that will get the legs burning, then Burleigh Heads to Surfers Paradise is the one for you.

Start at the top of Burleigh Hill then follow the coastal path north, passing by the legendary towns of Miami Beach, Mermaid Beach and Broadbeach right into the bustling metropolis at Surfers Paradise.

You’ll find all kinds of people hitting the trail up, from hardcore runners to weekend warriors, families out for a walk and colourful characters rollerblading. It keeps it entertaining when you want a break from the beach views.

If you need a bit more of a challenge, loop around the Burleigh Heads National Park, or drop off the path down onto the sand for a few kilometres.

Burleigh Heads beach at sunsetBurleigh Heads beach at sunset

Daisy Hill Conservation Park – 4km-15km

South of Brisbane is the marvellous Daisy Hill Conservation Park, home to some of the best running trails in all of Queensland.

Maintained dirt tracks wind between towering eucalyptus trees, offering plenty of different routes for the trail runner to choose from.

You can start off with a quick 4km jog along the Spotted Gum Trail if you just want to warm up the legs, or literally run as long as you feel like as the trails fork off in a variety of directions.

It’s also possible to bring your dog with you into the park, as long as you keep them on a leash.

One of the big benefits of going for a run in the Daisy Hill Conservation Park is that you can then pay a visit to the Koala Centre for free. A great opportunity to learn more about these beautiful creatures and how to protect them while out enjoying nature.

Lake Samsonvale – 8.4km return

Lake Samsonvale at duskLake Samsonvale at dusk

A 40-minute drive north of Brisbane is Lake Samsonvale, otherwise known as North Pine Dam. Built in 1976, the lake is now a haven for birdlife and other animals and is an idyllic destination for trail runners looking to change scenery. 

The trail starts either at Forgan Cove or on the other end, at the Bullocky Rest area. With the lake by your side for the majority of the run, this is a flat trail on which you can practice your sprints. 

Postman's Track - 4.5 -7km loop

Postman's Track trail Postman's Track trail

On the other side of Lake Samsonvale are the Postman's Track trails, which are made up of a 5km circuit which is cut down the middle with another trail for those who want to mix things up. 

From Dayboro, head south on Mount Samson Road until you see a sign for 'Postmans Track'. This road will lead you to a small carpark from which you can start your run. An information board will show you exactly where you are. 

This is a relatively flat trail but you will definitely feel like you have escaped the rat race in this bush environment. A creation of the community and council, be sure to watch out for horse riders and bicyclists, but you should have this trail pretty much to yourself. 

Kedron Brook Bikeway – up to 16km

Don’t let the name fool you! The Kedron Brook Bikeway is a multi-use pathway that sees its fair share of runners as well as cyclists, and is definitely one of the top trail running spots close to Brisbane.

A short drive away from the CBD in Brisbane’s Northern Suburbs, Kedron Brook has up to 16km of paved footpaths to navigate, working their way from Grinstead Park to Teralba Park.

Following the brook through bushland and manicured parks gives the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere. You won’t find car exhausts or traffic noise here. Instead, Kedron Brook Bikeway offers a sanctuary in the city, perfect for the trail runner that prefers to leave their headphones at home.

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