Brisbane is privileged to be surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, with mountains and forests that are full of excellent hiking trails. It is one of the reasons why I love living here. I’ve completed lots of these trails over the years but one that I hadn’t tackled yet was the Cotswold Track to the summit of Mount Maroon, located in the rugged mountainous area of Mount Barney National Park. Recently, I challenged myself to get out and climb the mountain on a beautiful day in Southeast Queensland.
The road to Mount Maroon leaves the main sealed road between Boonah and Rathdowney, travelling along a rough gravel road known as Cotswold Road to the start of the track. At first, the track makes its way through lush fields of grass where cows graze happily beneath the mountain. Mount Maroon looks rugged and daunting above, its rocky exposed peaks reaching towards the blue sky.
Soon the track enters the forest and I followed along the water gorged dirt trail with Eucalypts all around. A kangaroo spotted me and jumped away until it reached a safer distance. The trail meandered through the forest along a comfortable gradient before reaching a point where it starts climbing steeply up. At this point I have the feeling that I will be climbing like this from now on.
The trail climbs steeply straight up the slope of the mountain, and I slowly make my way up, climbing over rocks and fallen branches. The farmland below seems further away with each step and the views between the trees are beautiful. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of the mountain above and it doesn’t look much closer.
After climbing for some time I reach the top of a rocky ridge, scrambling up some tricky boulder sections, where the trail can become a little difficult to follow. It is at this point that the trail drops down again for a short while to find the entrance to the steep gully that leads up to the top of the mountain.
I drop down along the narrow trail for a short while with peaceful Eucalypt forest and grass trees all around me, before gradually climbing up again to reach the mouth of the gully. Looking down, the mountain drops away to the green farmland far below, while to my left a sheer cliff rises far up to the summit of the mountain.
The gully is the only logical way up to the summit but it is relentlessly steep and treacherous, with loose rocks and tree roots. I climb for quite a while, often using my hand to steady myself or help to climb up in places where my legs aren’t long enough to reach. Stopping for a rest is well rewarded with stunning views out across the beautiful landscape.
I climb for what seems like hours before I eventually stumble onto a flat saddle. I walk on through the dense forest to reach the top of a rocky ridge that provides the most stunning views. I can finally see the true summit of the mountain for the first time, rising up from a kind of plateau that sits on top of the mountain. I feel as though I am in a remote wilderness far away from civilisation.
After a good rest I head out along the rocky landscape to tackle the final climb to the summit. At first I walk through a pleasant section of forest where the trail is surprisingly flat and comfortable, before emerging back onto huge slabs of rock. The trail follows these rocks all of the way to the summit, and the only way to follow the trail is to locate the cairns that people have placed to mark the way. I’m certain that I head the wrong way on several occasions but I can see the summit ahead and know I am heading in the right direction.
I scramble up the exposed rocky summit for some time where only stunted trees can grow, before finally emerging onto the true summit itself. The views are simply stunning, looking far out over the landscape below, full of green pastures and the rugged area of Mount Barney National Park. The views alone make the climb well worth the effort. I make myself a coffee and enjoy some lunch on the summit. I couldn’t think of a better picnic spot.
After a while I make the long descent back down the mountain, reaching the bottom feeling exhausted, but accomplished. I’m not sure why I had left Mount Maroon all of these years without climbing it, but I’m glad I have now, and it won’t be the last time I visit this stunning mountain.