I’m currently in training mode again for another trip to the Nepal Himalaya in a couple of month’s time, so I’ve been regularly hitting the trails around Brisbane again. One of my favourite areas to go hiking within an easy drive of Brisbane is Mount Barney National Park. There are some good, variable trails there which range from moderate half day hikes to a challenging ascent of Mount Barney itself. One of my favourite starter trails is Lower Portals, which heads along the forested lower slopes of the mountain to a peaceful swimming hole on Barney Creek.
The trail starts from the Lower Portals car park, heading through dry sclerophyll forest up a gentle climb to the top of a small ridge. Heading down into the next gully, the trail crosses a small creek before heading up the other side and meandering through a scenic section of dry forest with eucalyptus and grass trees.
For most of the trail you are crossing gullies and then heading up over the next ridge. These are only small climbs, but provides good variation for training for larger treks. In the gullies are patches of wet sclerophyll forest which appears thicker and greener where there is more water, and you will hear nothing but the sound of the birds in the trees and the breeze rustling through the leaves.
After several gully crossings the trail heads up a rocky ridge where you can catch glimpses of the peak of Mount Barney above. Dropping down into one last gully, the trail flattens out and heads onto Barney Creek, a permanent fresh water creek surrounded by lush forest. Take care when crossing the creek via the stepping stones, which can be slippery and unstable.
On the other side of the creek you can head right to a small camping area (walk in only) or left to head to Lower Portals. It is an easy stroll through the forest with the creek on your left until you reach a dead end with a steep ridge ahead. There is a nice little swimming hole here and perfect for cooling off on a hot day.
From here, the creek heads up into Barney Gorge, and if you are feeling adventurous you can follow the creek up a little to more hidden swimming holes. It is such a peaceful and scenic place. I spent quite a bit of time here swimming, soaking my feet in the small rapids and just enjoying the peace and quiet.
The Lower Portals trail is just under 8kms return and it took me around an hour each way to complete, plus I spent an hour or so at Lower Portals itself. As such, it makes for a very pleasant morning or half day hike. Mount Barney National Park is within easy drive of both Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and there are some good camping areas in the region if you want to make it a longer trip.