Never heard of the Noosa Trail Network before? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Work on the trails began in 2000 (and further upgrades are currently in the works), but this series of trails in the Noosa countryside has managed to stay blissfully under the radar, even for the savviest of hikers.
The trails are shared use, which means they can be tackled on foot, bike, or horseback and link up Noosa Country townships including Cooroy, Cooran, Pomona and Kin Kin.
What is the Noosa Trail Network?
The network is made up of eight trails ranging from an easy five-kilometre circuit to 26km tracks that are best split over two days.
When it comes to scenery, picture working dairy farms, timber plantations, macadamia groves, and horse studs. It’s not polished – the ground has been minimally modified, so you might encounter patches of holes, rocks and mud – but that only adds to the adventure. These are the kinds of hikes where you’ll pass through cattle gates, wander through avenues of towering eucalyptus, then pop out in a town where there’s likely a cosy little cafe calling your name.
You’ll find five lookouts along the trail, dishing up views of the mountains that punctuate the landscape, along with Lake Cootharaba and Lake Cooroibah, and the rolling hills and farms that surround Kin Kin.
Which Noosa Trail is for me?
There’s no right or wrong way to tackle the Noosa Trail Network. You might set out to walk the entire loop over a week, or simply drive to the trailhead of one section and do a short walk in and out.
Here’s the full breakdown of trail options:
Trail one: Kin Kin Countryside Loop Trail, 14km
Set aside a morning to pass through mango farms and wave to herds of goats and dairy cows as you take in the circumference of Kin Kin. Allow approx. four hours to complete it on foot.
Trail two: The Scenic Trail, 26km one-way
Starting in Cooran, this chunky hike features steep climbs to reach the trail’s four lookouts. You can break it up by camping overnight at either Middle Lookout or Cootharaba Views Lookout. If you’re really up for an adventure and want to hike the full circuit, grab a bed at the pub or treat yourself to a night at Mayan Luxe Villas in Kin Kin and return to Cooran via Trail Three.
Trail three: The Kin Kin to Cooran Trail via Western Branch Road, 22km one-way
Get an early start for this 22km trek – there’s no camping allowed in this section so you’ll need to be fit to knock it over in one day and arrange a pick-up at the end. But it’s a stunner of a walk, passing through lush rainforest and eucalypt forest before a steep climb – we’re talking 400m elevation – up to James McKane Memorial Lookout.
For a shorter burst, walk the 2km section from Kin Kin Arboretum to Johnstons Lookout for bucolic vistas and return for lunch at Black Ant Gourmet at the Kin Kin General Store.
Trail four: Kin Kin to Lake MacDonald, 26km one-way
Setting off again from Kin Kin, preferably after a strong Noosa Black coffee from Kin Kin General Store, this trail passes through open grassy paddocks to woodland forest. Expect a few lookouts along the way, ending with an amble through rural residential developments at Lake Macdonald.
Just want a preview? You can easily hike the 1km section from Kookaburra Park to Mary River Cod Park in one hour.
Trail five: Pomona to Cooran, 10km one way
Taking you through the belly of Tuchekoi National Park, this friendly trail dishes up some great views of Mt Cooroora and Mt Cooran. Up the ante by including a climb to the top of Mount Cooroora – the site of the annual King of the Mountain Race – and end you day at one of the cafes in Cooran.
Trail six: Cudgerie Countryside Loop, 5km
If you just want to dip your toe into the Noosa Trail Network, park at Cudgerie Common on Blueberry Drive to walk this easy circuit through Cudgerie rural residential estate.
Trail seven: Mac'n'Back trail, 15km one way
Crossing Six Mile Creek through Yurol State Forest, this relatively flat trail dishes up gorgeous scenery and can easily be completed as a day hike.
Trail eight: Cooroy Wanderer, 11km one way
*Please note Trails 4, 7 and 8 are currently closed due to harvesting, which is expected to be completed in Oct 2021, weather pending. Then, revegetation works will continue to help populations of koalas to recover and bring the land back to what it used to be before it was cleared for timber.
Mountain Biking and Cycling on the Noosa Trail Network
If you’re an e-Bike rider, you could cover a lot of the network in a couple of days. If you’re equipped with a standard mountain bike, don’t expect an easy ride. Some trails are quite hilly and you need to be fit, but the scenery rewards still well outweigh the quad burn.
If you’re limited on time, ride Lake Macdonald up to Kin Kin and reward yourself with lunch at the Country Life Hotel. Or for a full day out, start at Cooran to ride down to Pomona for a pit-stop – lunch and maybe a sneaky G&T at Pomona Distilling Co. – then on to Cooroy.
There are local operators who can help you out with shuttle transfers and Spoke N Trail offers a full-day guided tour of the best bits, even cutting out the road climbs.
Road bikes aren’t left out, either. Throughout the year the trails play host to a series of cycling events – from the gruelling Noosa Enduro which follows the Network almost entirely, to the vintage-style gran fondo event, Noosa Strade Bianche (inspired by the ‘white gravel road’ event of the Tuscan countryside), and the one-day Noosa Classic. Find out all the details here.
Best time to visit
Keep an eye on social media for the Great Noosa Country Trail Walk (on again October 2021). This annual organised event brings together 200 people for three days of hiking across a 56km chunk of the trails with guides, camping accommodation and transfers provided.
Just be sure to plan well ahead if you’re keen to join in on the fun – this slow adventure quickly sells out.
Before you go
Download the Noosa Trail Network brochure for a detailed map along with a breakdown of different hike options. You can also download the Noosa Trail Network Guide in the same place for history on the region, the best views, and info on the flora and fauna to spot along your way.
It’s a good idea to download an offline map to your smartphone so you can keep track of where you are even if your phone signal drops out, or use an app like Trailforks or Avenza.
Looking for more hikes in and near Noosa? This post will help.