Mt Cougal is a real heartstarter. Right from the get-go it is straight up. The trail does flatten out from time to time but by and large this is a pretty good workout. There are great views from the top and a great variety of foliage – or is it foilage? – Whatever – the plants change quite a bit from tall cane grass which is well over your head to lush rainforest to more traditional bush and grass trees at the summit.
UTT 1.Wear long pants and sleeves. There are a lot of spiky vines and plants and fallen branches that like the taste of human skin..
UTT 2. If it has rained recently go on a pleasant waterfall walk instead. Mt Cougal is steep and slippery and no fun in the mud at all. Heed this advice people!
How to get there: Head towards Currumbin Valley along Currumbin Creek Rd which is a nice leisurely drive, then turn onto Mt Tomewin road. Keep going past the Arthur Freeman lookout until you see the pleasantly named Garden of Eden turnoff on your right.
This road is not in the best condition at the moment so you might struggle in a small car so just be aware. It is also a very narrow road with a steep drop off and mostly one lane, so take care. (Sorry to sound like a Grandma)
When you get to the end of the road there is an old gate and a clearing where you can park your car. The trail starts right near the old gate – just look for the barb wire fence,keep it on your left and head straight up. There are a few diversions where trees have fallen across the fence-line but as long as you make your way back to the fence and keep it on your left you are fine. There is one major tree fall a fair way up and it is confusing as to which way to go so I am going to throw you a bone here and tell you to take the left hand side.
The total ascent took us around 1 hour 50 minutes and once up top you get some great views of the west peak and of Mt Warning in the distance.
There is a cave just before the final ascent and you can crawl almost all the way through and you can actually see out through an opening to the west peak. It is worth it for that nice little claustrophobic feeling followed by the relief of open space again when you come back out!.
Mt Cougal can easily be done round trip in under 4 hours if you want to add in West Peak add an extra 2 hours.
It is a hairy trail to get to West peak and I don’t mean overgrown with furry plants. I mean scary. Some parts are only 1 meter wide with straight drop offs either side. It is an awesome trail though as it is undulates and cuts across the ridge that connects the east peak to the west. There are pink trail markers to keep you on the right path so a big thank you to whoever kindly left these!
Unfortunately we didn’t make it to the top of West peak as my climbing buddy was too afraid of the sheer drops and small cliff that needed to be scaled before the final ascent. I’m not going to embarrass him by naming him.
So all in all it was a great day with my climbing Buddy Ben Regan who is from Mermaid Beach, Queensland.
All in all Mt Cougal is a more challenging hike if you have done the other cruisier treks on the Gold Coast and want more of an adventure. The final scramble to the east peak up slippery rocks is good fun, the cave is cool and the view from the top is terrific and the perfect place to kick back and have lunch. West peak is optional – at least go halfway the narrow ridge is awesome.