One of the most talked about activities on the Sunshine Coast is hiking Mount Coolum. My boyfriend did it the first week he got here and told me how great it was. But I’d never gotten around to checking it out, mostly because I was too scared to try it alone. And he was working away so much. So when my mum was visiting a few months ago I managed to talk her into doing it with me. Although, in the end it was me that needed more of the convincing since I haven’t done a hike like this in a long time. And was feeling pretty unfit for the task. But I did it and it was totally worth it!
So if you’re considering hiking Mount Coolum I thought I’d share everything you need to know before you do it. First things first…
What is Mount Coolum
Mount Coolum is a huge volcanic dome that towers over the Sunshine Coast landscape. Created about 26 million years ago, Mount Coolum is a laccolith. Formed when a dome-shaped bulge of magma cooled below the Earth’s surface.
You can catch glimpses of this beautiful mountain from a lot of viewpoints and drives along the Sunshine Coast.
Hiking Mount Coolum
You need to climb 208 metres to reach the summit of Mount Coolum. The signs say to allow about 2 hours but if you’re reasonably fit you can probably manage up and back in about 1 – 1.5 hours. Plus if you’re anything like us you want to allow time for taking in the scenery and capturing some photos.
It took mum and I about 50 minutes to reach the summit and 35 minutes to get back down to the car park.
The first part of the track is quite a pleasant stroll through native bushland and forest. But don’t be fooled. The path then becomes quite steep as it traverses the rock face. There’s no fencing so you need to be careful and stay away from the cliff edges because that wouldn’t be a very nice fall.
Take it at your own pace and if you feel like you need to rest, make sure you do. Trying to push yourself too far isn’t going to help anybody. I was tempted to give up at multiple points because the heat was pretty unbearable and we had limited water. But I just sat down for a while and allowed myself to recover and then I was able to continue to the top.
The panoramic views over the coast when you reach the top are incredible. To the east, coastal views stretch from Double Island Point all the way to Caloundra (where I live). The short tracks at the top of the mountain offer the best views to the south and showcase a patchwork of flat cane land, river valleys and the rolling hills of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. It really is breathtaking and makes the climb absolutely worth it.
Important things to consider before hiking Mount Coolum
You want to make sure you’re prepared, and definitely check the weather before heading up. We happened to head up on an extremely humid day and didn’t realise the mountain doesn’t have a lot of shade. Being used to other forest and mountain hikes where you can usually take refuge under trees, we didn’t really think this would be any different.
But there’s not many trees along the way at all so when you’re going up on a hot day and have the sun constantly beaming down on you. You can tire out and get dehydrated very quickly. We were kind of silly and only brought one water bottle between me and mum so had to really make this last.
On the day we went up we actually passed a lady who had fainted from the heat and dehydration. And she ended up having to be helicoptered out. So it’s definitely not something to be taken lightly.
If you are going to go I definitely recommend the earlier the better so you get up before peak sunlight. We went around 9:30am and even this was probably too late. And if you were planning to go later in the day you’d want to ensure you get down before it gets dark because it’s quite a steep and slippery descent which would be quite dangerous in the dark.
What to Bring
Make sure you pack your camera to capture the Insta-worthy views you’ll discover on your journey to the peak.
There are only limited facilities on site so BYO bottled water – and bring a lot! Wear enclosed shoes with good grip as parts of the track can be quite rocky. And of course wear a hat and sunscreen because like I said above, there’s not a lot of shade along the way. Insect repellent is also a good idea, I got bitten by mozzies which is never fun!
You’ll want to spend some time at the top. So be sure to pack a few easy-to-carry snacks to enjoy as you sit back and soak up the amazing 360 degree views from the summit.
So you’re ready to go? Here’s how you get there…
If you have a GPS just type in Mount Coolum National Park and that will direct you where you need to go. From Sunshine Motorway you’re looking for the Mudjimba exit then follow David Low Way to the Mount Coolum car park which is accessed from Tanah Street West. Follow the National Parks and Wildlife signs and directions to the walking track.
Mount Coolum is about 3.5 km south of Coolum Beach. So once you’re done with the hike this is the perfect place to go to cool down.
And of course I’m sure you’re dying to see the views. Here’s all the highlights from hiking Mount Coolum.
Looking for other hikes on the Sunshine Coast? Check out Buderim Falls as well.
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