Visiting the Scenic Rim Trail safely
- Scenic Rim Trail map —trip planning only
The Scenic Rim Trail begins on private property at Thornton View, climbs to the Main Range crest, then follows the escarpment to Cunninghams Gap. You must walk the trail from north to south.
You need a topographic map
Topographic maps contain vital orientation information and are essential for your safety. Do not walk without one.
Obtain on-line topographic maps from sites such as QTopo. Download or print Thornton, Glen Rock, Townson, Mount Develin and Cunningham’s Gap 1:25,000 map sheets
Getting to the trailhead
The trailhead is located on private land 28km south of Laidley. Map reference: -27.833852°S, 152.326166°E. High/higher clearance vehicles are recommended.
To get there, drive to Laidley from the Warrego Highway or Rosewood (west of Ipswich), then head south past Mulgowie. Continue to Thornton, turning right at Centenary Park (21km south of Laidley), cross Laidley Creek, and turn left at Thornton State School onto Main Camp Creek Road. Follow Main Camp Creek Road (which becomes gravel) for about 5.5km, take the sharp right hand bend at a gate to private property, and continue west another few hundred metres to the grid into Thornton View Nature Refuge. Cross the grid and the trailhead and car park is ahead on your right.
Your vehicle can be parked at the Scenic Rim Trail trailhead for the duration of your walk, however you will need to be transported back to the trailhead to retrieve it. Alternatively, arrange for someone to drop you at the trailhead and pick you up at Cunninghams Gap when you have finished your walk. It is not advisable to leave your vehicle parked overnight beside the highway at Cunninghams Gap.
There is no public transport to the trailhead or trail exit.
Getting to the trail exit
The Scenic Rim Trail ends at Cunninghams Gap. After joining the graded track system at Bare Rock (north of Mount Cordeaux), walkers exit at the Crest carpark near the monument to Allan Cunningham on the busy Cunningham Highway, 116km south-west of Brisbane (50km east of Warwick).
The Scenic Rim Trail is remote and isolated. You must be well prepared and take responsibility for your own safety. Accidents can happen, even to experienced bushwalkers. Nature can be unpredictable—storms, fires and floods can happen in a flash.
WARNING! Sheer cliff edges. One slip could be fatal—serious injury or death may result from walking near cliff edges. Remain on the trail and keep well back from cliff edges.
Follow these guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
- Check park alerts for fire danger, track closures and other park information before leaving home.
- Check weather conditions a day or two before starting your walk by visiting www.bom.gov.au (Bureau of Meteorology).
- Never walk alone—small groups of about 4 are ideal. Keep your group together.
- Ensure someone in your group is an experienced bushwalker.
- Carry adequate drinking water, food and a first-aid kit.
- Treat all water taken from creeks and other water sources.
- Carry maps and a compass or GPS, and communication equipment. Pack extra batteries.
- Be surefooted! Wear sturdy, enclosed boots—tracks are slippery when wet.
- Don’t overheat! Avoid walking in extreme heat or during periods of high fire danger.
- Watch your head! High winds cause branches to fall. Walkers camps may be closed temporarily in very windy conditions.
- Avoid the leaves of stinging trees—living or dead.
- Leave hiking details with a responsible person who can contact police if you do not return within the agreed time. Have an emergency plan.
- Obey all safety, warning and closure signs.
When to visit
The best months for hiking are from April to September to avoid hot conditions and stormy weather. The availability of fresh water along the way depends on the season and rainfall.
The trail may be closed due to fires or adverse weather conditions, for essential track maintenance or for safety reasons. Check weather forecasts a day or two ahead at Bureau of Meteorology and check the latest park alerts before leaving home.
Stay on track
Know your location at all times. Take copies of the relevant topographic maps, a compass and a GPS with you. Check your map regularly to mark progress against features. Know your group’s limitations and plan to set up camp well before sunset, or before bad weather sets in. Avoid walking at night. If someone becomes ill, or difficult weather sets in, make camp and wait for conditions to improve or help to arrive.
Fires, floods and pest animals
The Scenic Rim Trail may be closed in extreme weather conditions. Please observe all signs and closure notifications.
Heavy rain can cause water levels in creeks to rise very quickly. If caught during a flash flood, stay on higher ground (and away from cliff edges) and wait until the waters have receded. Continue your walk only when you can cross the creeks safely.
Bushfires can occur without warning. Be aware of and prepared for the dangers. If there is a bushfire, do not walk towards it—leave the area, even if it means walking back the way you have come. Dense rainforest, previously burnt ground, or watercourses and moist gullies might provide protection. Avoid areas of heavy fuel, such as long grass or deep leaf litter, and stay low to the ground where the air is coolest and contains the least smoke.
Rangers carry out planned hazard reduction burning so check park alerts for updates on scheduled burning before you go.
Rangers also carry out pest management programs within Main Range National Park. Feral pigs are of particular concern when they move into an area, as they eat native plants and animals and use their snouts to dig up soil and vegetation. They can also spread animal diseases and plant pathogens. Pig traps have been placed near the Scenic Rim Trail in several locations. Please keep away from the pig traps and do not enter them; people can interfere with the success of feral pig trapping. If you encounter a feral pig, stay calm, keep a safe distance and slowly back away towards higher ground. Stay standing and wait until the pigs leave before continuing your walk.
In an emergency
Call Triple Zero (000) for critical, serious or life-threatening situations; or use the emergency+ app.
Call 106 for a text-only message for deaf or speech or hearing-impaired callers.
If communication by phone is not possible—activate your PLB device.
For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.
Thorough planning can be the difference between a safe, memorable adventure, or a miserable and dangerous experience. Plan your walk well. The Scenic Rim Trail is in an area managed to maintain its remote and rugged natural condition. Natural hazards exist—be aware of what to expect and how to deal with potential problems.
- Plan where you will go, what gear you will need and what you will do in an emergency.
- Book your campsites online.
- Obtain relevant topographic maps.
Allow 4 full days to complete the Scenic Rim Trail.
When planning your walk, think about the abilities and limits of walkers in your group. Bushwalking experience, fitness levels and track conditions are important factors. Bad weather (such as periods of high rainfall or very hot conditions) can make walking more difficult and challenging. Know how much food and water you can carry and match this with the trip’s length. Carry extra food and water in case of emergency.
Give a copy of your walking plans to a responsible person and make sure that they know your exact route, and when you expect to return. Contact them when you return. If you change your plans, tell them. Have an emergency plan in place if you fail to contact them by an agreed time. If you are overdue or potentially lost, your nominated contact should report this to the Queensland Police Service by calling Triple Zero (000). The police will organise rescue procedures.
Essentials to bring
Walkers must be fully self-sufficient as facilities are limited. Pack for safety and for comfort, but remember you will be carrying everything so the key is to pack light. Be sure to include the following:
- comfortable, high-quality, ankle-supporting footwear with flexible soles and good grip
- hat, sunscreen and insect repellent
- warm clothes and raincoat—pack for all seasons
- drinking water in re-fillable water containers, plus water purification tablets/kit and filter. Water supplies and water quality cannot be guaranteed. Treat and filter water from all sources before drinking.
- nourishing lightweight food and high-energy snacks. Take extra food in case the walk takes longer than expected. Take sealable containers for leftover and fresh foods.
- first-aid kit—know how to use it
- topographic map and compass. You can purchase or download topographic maps online from sites such as QTopo.
- sleeping gear (strong, lightweight tent, lightweight sleeping bag and mat). Walkers camps do not have shelters.
- rubbish bags (take out what you take in)
- waterproof bags to keep clothing and bedding dry
- torch and batteries, and pocket knife
- lightweight cooking and eating utensils and washing-up equipment
- fuel stove and fuel, lighter or waterproof matches—open fires are not permitted
- toilet paper and a small hand trowel or spade; or human waste disposal kit
- mobile phone (coverage is limited) and hand-held PLB (Personal Locator Beacon).
Consider downloading the free Emergency+ smartphone app at emergencyapp.triplezero.gov.au before leaving home. It has GPS functionality that can provide critical location details to emergency services.
Emergency beacon devices
Walkers should ensure they carry at least one type of emergency communication device. A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is recommended, however be aware that these devices are not telephones, they emit a signal by which rescue crews can pinpoint your location. PLBs can be hired from various outlets. Before you leave, ensure you register your PLB.
For more information on how to obtain and register a PLB, visit Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
Permits and fees
Camping permits are required and fees apply for staying overnight along the trail at the 3 designated Scenic Rim Trail walkers camps. A tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.
Purchase your camping permits well in advance to avoid disappointment. If you change your plans, please cancel or amend your booking so that other hikers can obtain places on the trail.
The Scenic Rim Trail is open 24 hours a day, but it can be closed during periods of extreme weather such as flooding, windy weather, fires or extreme fire danger, and during planned burns. Please ensure you check Park alerts before you visit, and ensure relevant contact details are supplied when booking.
Domestic animals are prohibited on the Scenic Rim Trail.
Climate and weather
To make the best of your walk, choose a time when walking is pleasant. The best time to walk the Scenic Rim Trail is between April and September.
The plateau and peaks of Main Range are cooler than the adjacent lowland—even in summer. Even so, summer temperatures can reach 36°C, especially on exposed ridges, so bring a hat and wear sunscreen even on cloudy days. In winter, temperatures below 0°C can be experienced, with nights frosty and the days brisk. Be prepared for chilly winds. Temperatures within the rainforest can drop to 4°C. At times, the range may be clouded in mist.
Weather conditions can change suddenly in the mountains. It is advisable to carry a raincoat and warm clothing at all times of the year. Expect hot, humid conditions and damp to wet tracks if walking between November and March—the storm season. The average yearly rainfall for Cunninghams Gap is 1,000mm.
Check weather conditions a day or two before leaving; weather forecasts and warnings are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.