Mount Coochin Trail Loop – A Handlebar Moustache Adventure

I spontaneously decided to tackle the Mount Coochin Trail Loop in the Glass House Mountains after arriving at Mount Beerwah to find it closed due to rain. After some quick research, my friend Marty and I decided to climb Mount Beerburrum first. So, it was just after 1pm when we arrived at Mount Coochin on an overcast Sunday, and as I was soon to find out, it’s an excellent, underrated walk that’s one of the most fun I’ve experienced in the region.

Views from Mount Coochin Trail Loop summit – Mount Beerwah (right) and Mount Coonowrin (left)

Mount Coochin is also known as Coochin Hills, as the trail loop dishes up two smallish peaks near each other, providing varied topography and additional views for a nice little jaunt. The weather had cooled off ever so slightly from our muggy excursion up Mount Beerburrum, but it was still a muggy afternoon. The cloud cover remained, which we loved, and it gave the sky some added atmosphere on our journey into the hills.

How to Get to the Mount Coochin Trail Loop

I’d read briefly that the Mount Coochin Trail Loop was slightly difficult to find, which intrigued me. However, if you know the address, it’s not hard to find at all (just a little unusual). The address is 2,672 Old Gympie Road in Beerwah – in the Sunshine Coast – and while at first it looks like you’re driving into someone’s house when you pull in (which you kind of are), turn right immediately and you’ll see the car park, gate, and national park signs to the walk.  

The entrance to the Mount Coochin Trail Loop is roughly one hour drive from Brisbane City.

The fire trail gate – Mount Coochin Trail Loop

The Walk  – The First Peak

Walking through the fire trail gate, we followed the path for another 50 metres or so and came to a junction. Head left here, keep going for about another 75 metres and the trail leads off to your right. Someone has given a tree two arrow tattoos for your convenience. From here, the trail heads steadily up the first peak through sparsely populated forest.

The ‘tree tattoos’ indicate the start of the trail

The ground is a little uneven here but nothing too bad, given you have a reasonable level of fitness and dexterity. There are fleeting views of the surrounding houses if you stop and turn around, but otherwise you’ll just be passing thin trees and bushland. After about 30 minutes of this, a cliff face becomes visible on the left-hand side. Here’s where you can see the other peak, which is a tad steeper (but not much).

Ascending the first part of the Mount Coochin Trail Loop
Me and Marty getting near the top of the first peak

Marty and I continued along the Mount Coochin Trail Loop, and after a couple of minutes we saw a slightly elevated area where a couple was enjoying the view. I decided to check it out.

View from the summit of ‘Coochin One’

Summit One

We found ourselves chatting to a nice couple who were surprised this was our first time on the trail. We exchanged stories and they told us of recent adventures on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. They had used the Mount Coochin Trail Loop to get fit for the hike and had gotten their time down to 45 minutes, which I thought was fairly impressive. I think we’d clocked up nearly that so far!

Sweaty me and Marty with Mount Coonowrin on the right and Mount Tibrogargan on the left

We also admired the view for a little bit, spying Mt Beerwah, Mt Coonowrin, Mt Tibberoowuccum and Mt Tibrogargan to the south. The Mount Coochin Trail Loop offers excellent views across the Glass House Mountains, considering the Coochin Hills are a mere 235 metres and 230 metres respectively. I think from observation the first peak is slightly smaller. Tell me if I’m wrong!

So Where Does the Handlebar Moustache come from?

As you can see in the pics, I don’t currently have a handlebar moustache (although I used to!). It was after asking the couple some questions on the walk’s orientation that I concluded the Mount Coochin Loop Trail runs in a pattern a bit like a handlebar moustache, with the two peaks sitting just above either corner of the lip. This is of course if you disregard the fact the entry and exit points connect on the same road. If you count that then I guess it’s kind of a goatee!

View across peaks

So, deciding to traverse along the lip to the next peak, we said our farewells and descended the first peak. It’s not a steep walk down by any means but at the end it drops a little before you land into a gully between the two peaks.

Marty descending the last part of the first peak

The Second Peak

I read a few comments about the Mount Coochin Trail Loop before arriving and it seems the second peak is a bit of a ‘scramble’. It is a little steeper than the first peak, but also the ascent is shorter and more enjoyable, as it’s more open and there are plenty of rocks to step up on.

Good views of the Glass House Mountains from the gully!
Mount Beerwah, from the gully between the two peaks

As it didn’t look like much of a scramble, I tried to prove a point by ascending the second peak without using my hands (which I did). While it might help to ‘scramble’ up this peak, you certainly don’t need to if you have a reasonable level of fitness. I documented my ascent with some rather wonky filming, which you can see in my video at the end of this post.

Marty ascending the second peak
A little steep but possible without ‘scrambling’ for the more able

While you’re climbing this section, you can look back at the other Coochin Hill (depending on which way you tackle the Mount Coochin Trail Loop), and enjoy views of both Mount Beerwah and Mount Coonowrin.

From Peak Two to Peak One – Mount Coochin Trail Loop

Summit Two

As this summit is more forested than its sibling, the views are more limited. Saying that, once you’ve climbed this hill, turn right and walk along the rocks down the south side of the hill. Apparently, you can also exit the Mount Coochin Loop Trail this way. However, then it wouldn’t be a loop, and it certainly wouldn’t be a handlebar moustache! Additionally, if you’ve parked your car where I suggest, it wouldn’t make sense to exit the walk here.

Views of the Glass House Mountains from the second peak

Anyway, this is a good spot to sit and take in the views to the south for a wee bit. It was here that we saw a couple of hikers with lycra gear on and walking poles, looking pretty serious. I think they were training and had ascended from the opposite side we had.

Final Descent

From here we walked back to the top corner of the lip and down the other side of the handlebar moustache, enjoying views to the north and fleeting views of Mount Beerwah along the way. We passed the serious-looking hikers again on our way down, as they’d already done a complete circuit! Well, we were glad not to be in a hurry and soak up this pretty amazing part of the world.

Staring down the other side of the handlebar moustache

Further down the mountain, near the end of our walk, the wind began to pick up and I reflected I was glad we hadn’t done an afternoon jaunt up Mount Tibrogargan, which I nearly suggested. You can read about my ascent up Mount Tibrogargan last year, here.

Aboriginal Significance & Natural History

Again, it appears that information on the significance of smaller mountains/peaks to the local Kabi Kabi people is lacking in the Glass House Mountains. Mythology is usually confined to the two stars of the region, Mount Beerwah and Mount Tibrogargan. If you know anything that can help the readers of this blog, please let me know! You can read more about the Aboriginal significance of the Glass House Mountains on my Mount Tibrogargan post.

Views on our return journey of the most sacred indigenous Glass House Mountain – Mount Beerwah

Regarding the natural history, the Coochin Hills are composed of alkali rhyolite, as are Mount Tibrogargan and Mt Ngungun. Additionally, this loop trail contains a rare, threatened species of plant, the Coochin Hills Grevillea, which you may be lucky enough to see.

What to Bring

Unlike the Mount Beerburrum Walking Track, there are no shops around the Mount Coochin Trail Loop, so you’ll have to bring some energy/snack trail food to keep you going. However, you probably won’t need to eat considering the length of this walk, although I would suggest bringing at least two litres of water and a wide-brimmed hat. You will need closed shoes on this walk, as the ground is fairly uneven.

Difficulty & Time Taken

The Mount Coochin Trail Loop is an accessible walk that most people should be able to do without too much problem, given they’ve got a reasonable degree of fitness and mobility. Marty and I were discussing bringing our kids here and Marty thinks it might be a bit much for his 13-year-old. Saying that, I think an active family with young kids (10 and up) should be okay here.

Marty and I took about two hours to complete the entire handlebar moustache circuit, but that was enjoying ourselves, doing what we wanted to, and not rushing. You could do it in less time, but I think you want to give yourself at least that much time to soak up this enjoyable little part of the world.

Final Thoughts

Possibly the only negative aspect of the Mount Coochin Loop Trail is the view of the houses nearby, which are pretty evident on the north side of the loop (where you enter and exit). It’s nothing too bad, as I just prefer a more complete nature immersion on my walks.

A few residential dwellings around the base of the mountain

Saying that, in all I was surprised by the Mount Coochin Loop Trail. This walk is completely underrated, offering an energising bush exploration with open views and varied topography. I felt this even more keenly after climbing Mount Beeburrum this morning, which I found a little disappointing. The Mount Coochin Trail Loop is one of my favourite walks in the Glass House Mountains!

Put this one on your list!

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