9 July 2023.

Border Ranges National Park is a spectacularly underrated hiking destination in northern NSW. This comprehensive guide covers the best hiking trails and viewpoints for your visit. 

Tucked away in the lush northern fringes of New South Wales, Border Ranges National Park is perhaps one of the most underrated destinations in the region.

Extending across the ridgeline of an ancient caldera, the fertile volcanic soils have given rise to some magical pockets of the World-Heritage Listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia – verdant, centuries-old rainforests that conceal waterfalls, fairytale walking trails and some of the most spectacular mountain viewpoints you’ll find anywhere in NSW.

brindle creek walking track. border ranges national park
brindle creek walking track. border ranges national park

Though these mountains are often overshadowed by the nearby magnetic hotspots of Byron Bay and Lamington National Park, for anyone after a new hiking destination to explore, the spectacular Border Ranges will not disappoint.

A long weekend would provide a perfect opportunity to hike the many trails on offer, but if you’re only in the area for a quick day trip, you’ll have enough time to drive the entire way through the Border Ranges and squeeze in a day walk and a visit to the national park’s best lookout.

Though it is worth noting that some trails remain closed due to flood and weather damage, this comprehensive guide covers all tracks that were open during the time of my visit and everything else you need to know for a trip to the wonderful Border Rangers National Park.

How To Get To Border Ranges National Park

The stunning Border Ranges National Park is located in northern NSW, wedged up against the border with Queensland.

The Tweed Range Scenic Drive is the only access road, traversing the park from west to south in a boomerang-like arc. You’ll need to navigate your way to either end (Kyogle or Lillian Rock) depending on which direction you’re arriving from and where you’re staying in the area.

There is no public transport or tours that operate in these remote mountains so you will need a car to visit the Border Ranges.

For car rental, Byron Bay or the Gold Coast will likely be your best collection points, though there are options available in Lismore if you’re already in the Northern Rivers area. Check rates and availability here.  

From Kyogle To Border Ranges

Kyogle makes a great base for exploring the Border Ranges and lies about 40 minutes from the western entrance.

Head north on Summerland Way and turn right at Lynchs Creek Road. Continue on for about 15 minutes through Lynchs Creek and turn left onto Forest Road which will guide you the rest of the way into the Border Ranges National Park.

border ranges national park nsw

There’s a steep corner at the Forest Road / Simes Road intersection, but it’s well-signposted to keep you on track.

You’ll leave the paved road behind at Lynchs Creek, but aside from a smattering of potholes, the dirt road is generally in good condition through the national park.

From Southern Queensland To Border Ranges

If you’re arriving from southern Queensland’s Scenic Rim, there are two main routes to reach the Border Ranges National Park.

The first option is to follow the wonderfully scenic Mount Lindsey Highway and turn onto Summerland Way near Woodenbong, then continue on until you reach the Lynchs Creek turnoff at Wiangaree and follow the directions above.

The road is paved for this entire route and is generally in very good condition, plus the views as you weave around Mount Lindsey are beautiful.

Alternatively, there’s a shortcut through the mountains which veers off Mount Lindsey Highway near Rathdowney. Turn off onto either Innisplain Road or Running Creek Road and continue on through Lions Road and Grady’s Creek Road until you reach Simes Road.

border ranges national park nsw

If you’re travelling this route, stop in at the Border Loop Lookout off Lions Road and stretch your legs on the short 1.5km circuit that guides you past an enormous fig tree and overlooks the old railway line.

Once you leave the highway, you’ll be on a narrow winding country road which is mostly paved but does have quite a few potholes. You’ll hit the gravel at Simes Road and while it’s a bit rough in some sections, it’s still manageable in a 2WD.

At the end of Simes Road, take a sharp left onto Forest Road which leads you straight into the national park.

From The North Coast and Lillian Rock to Border Ranges

If you’re arriving at the Border Ranges from the coast, navigate your way to Kyogle Road, via Murwillumbah or Lismore. Continue on and you’ll pass directly through Lillian Rock and Mount Burrell near the southern reaches of the park which can be used as a base for exploring the area, or continue on to Kyogle.

From Kyogle Road, turn onto Williams Road at Lillian Rock or, alternatively, near Cawongla to add on a short detour to Hanging Rock Falls which is a popular summer swimming spot.

blackbutt lookout. border ranges national park

Continue onto Creegans Road which will eventually turn into the Tweed Range Scenic Drive once you enter the national park.

Once you leave Kyogle Road, the route is unpaved for the rest of the way and is the roughest of these three options with large loose gravel and plenty of potholes. While it’s still manageable in a 2WD, I personally found this road really unpleasant to drive and preferred to return back to Kyogle through the national park rather than rattling along this section.

Border Ranges Map
Border Ranges National Park Walks and Lookouts

There are some fantastic Border Ranges National Park walks with options for short easy trails that will take less than an hour, to longer more challenging hikes that will take up the better part of your day.

The below hikes and viewpoints are listed in consecutive order if you’re driving through the park from the western entrance to the south.

It’s also important to note that during my visit, most trails departing from Sheepstation Creek were unfortunately closed for maintenance due to flood and weather damage. This includes the popular Booyong Walk and Rosewood Loop Track which I have not included below. Check for updated park alerts here.

Brindle Creek Walking Track  +  Helmholzia Loop

Distance  |   5.4km one way

Duration   |   3 to 4 hours return

Trailhead   |   Brindle Creek picnic area



One of the best Border Ranges National Park hikes, the Brindle Creek Walk guides you through a world of ancient rainforests that feel as if they’ve been plucked from the pages of a fairytale.

Muddy trails and picturesque bridges lead you back and forth across the river towards the two lovely cascades – Evans Falls and Selva Falls – that lie along Brindle Creek, before meandering through the Antarctic Beech Forest.

Home to trees that have existed here for centuries, they’re simply brimming with life, decorated in spongey moss, delicate threads of lichen and brightly coloured fungi.

The forests here are among the most beautiful I’ve seen anywhere in Australia and if you have time for just one hike in the area, Brindle Creek will not disappoint.

brindle creek walk. border ranges national park

The trail is unfortunately not designed as a circuit walk so you can either hike the trail one way and do a car shuffle back to start or return back via the road or the trail.

If you’re only interested in seeing some of the prettiest Border Ranges waterfalls, you could also walk as far as Selva Falls and return from there. Be sure to read this comprehensive guide to the Brindle Creek Walk for more information.

For those that don’t have time to complete the entire hike but still want to get a taste of this spectacular rainforest, the Helmholtzia Loop is a 1km circuit that begins along the same path as the Brindle Creek Walk before crossing over the river and returning to the picnic area along the northern bank.

Named for the rare helmholtzia lily which grows along the stream, this beautiful circuit guides you through the forest on an easy trail that can be completed in about 30 minutes and will give you a lovely introduction to the area.

selva falls. brindle creek walk. border ranges national park
Red Cedar Walk

Distance  |   750m return

Duration   |   20 minutes

Trailhead   |   Brindle Creek picnic area



The Red Cedar Loop lies opposite the Brindle Creek trailhead and weaves along a mossy boardwalk and forest trail that hugs the edge of a shallow ravine with the river coursing down below. The gentle rush of the water pushing through a stunning oasis of ferns and lichen covers rocks makes for an impossibly serene setting.

Continuing on, the forest here is home to many large trees, but as you approach the furthest point, you’ll pass an enormous red cedar that is estimated to be a thousand years old.

This trail is simply beautiful and even if you’ve already completed the Brindle Creek Walk, I reckon this one is still worthwhile.

red cedar walk. border ranges national park walks nsw
red cedar walk. border ranges national park walks nsw
red cedar walk. border ranges national park walks nsw
Pinnacle Lookout Walk

Distance  |   600m return

Duration   |   30 minutes

Trailhead   |   Pinnacle Lookout Walk



Pinnacle Lookout is without a doubt the best viewpoint you’ll find in the Border Ranges National Park.

Jutting out from the cliff face on a wide viewing platform, Pinnacle Lookout gazes across a vibrant patchwork of farmlands that fill the valley to the lush rainforests that climb into the tilted, rocky peak of Wollumbin or Mount Warning.

On either side, the emerald ripples of the vast mountain escarpment drop sharply into the valley below and extend into the distance, remnants of the ancient volcanic crater which collapsed here millions of years ago.

pinnacle lookout walk. border ranges national park nsw

The distinctive summit of Wollumbin and the fertile lands that surround it are sacred for the people of the Bundjalung Nation and a place of immense spiritual significance.

To arrive at the viewpoint, the Pinnacle Lookout Walk is clearly signposted right alongside the road and leads through a beautiful section of rainforest opposite the parking area.

This viewpoint is spectacular at any time of the day, but sunset is a fantastic time to visit when Wollumbin is illuminated in deep orange hues and is the last point from which the light fades as the sun sinks below the mountains behind you.

Aim for clear weather as any low cloud or mist will cling to the mountain tops and steal away this magnificent view.

pinnacle lookout walk. border ranges national park nsw
pinnacle lookout walk. border ranges national park nsw
Blackbutt Lookout

Further along the caldera than Pinnacle Lookout, Blackbutt is another great vantage point that offers up spectacular views.

Across the valley, checkered in farmlands and forest, the western face of Wollumbin rises up sharply, showing off the gnarled triple peak that is only visible from this perspective.

Unlike many of the other viewpoints in Border Ranges National Park, Blackbutt Lookout requires zero walking to reach. The viewing platform is right next to the parking area making it the most accessible of the Border Ranges lookouts.

blackbutt lookout. border ranges national park
Bar Mountain Circuit   +   Falcorostrum Loop

Distance  |   4km return

Duration   |   1 to 2 hours

Trailhead   |   Bar Mountain picnic area



Sitting high on the mountain plateau, the Bar Mountain Circuit traverses a variety of habitats from lush mossy trees to dry, open forests, finally emerging at the edge of the escarpment to spectacular views overlooking the southern folds of the Border Ranges.

Facing the opposite direction to Pinnacle and Blackbutt Lookouts, Bar Mountain provides visitors with an entirely different perspective on the area.

The start of the walk is beautiful, weaving tightly between moss-encrusted tree trunks, rain-soaked ferns and tiny glistening green leaves that sprout beside the trail.

As you approach the edge of the escarpment, the trail pitches steadily downhill, the forest opens up and sunlight filters across the carpet of fallen foliage before reaching the stunning viewing platform that marks the halfway point.

bar mountain circuit. border ranges national park

The return journey hugs the edge of the cliff for some time, offering up glimpses of the mountains through the trees before climbing steadily upwards and returning to the rainforest where rocky switchbacks and ancient trees guide you back to the far side of the picnic area.

Though the rainforest here is not quite as pristine and impressive as what you’ll find at Brindle Creek, the Bar Mountain Circuit is still a great option with stunning rewards from the lookout.

For those that don’t have time to complete the entire Bar Mountain Circuit but still want a taste of the area, the Falcorostrum Loop is just 650m and begins along the same trail, taking in some of the prettiest pockets of rainforest you’ll find along the circuit before doubling back and returning to the picnic area.

Opposite the trailhead, you’ll also the Beech Glade Walk is just 100m and leads to a picnic table that has been completely enveloped by fuzzy green moss.

bar mountain circuit. border ranges national park
Border Ranges Accommodation

Its remote location means that accommodation is somewhat limited around the Border Ranges.

If you’re not camping within the national park, Kyogle makes an ideal base for exploring and is just 40 minutes from the western entrance of the national park. If you choose to stay on the eastern side, you’ll find a few options around Lillian Rock and Mount Burrell.




Sheepstation Creek Campground   |   Located near the far western border of the national park, this basic campground is suitable for everything from tents to caravans. Picnic and barbecue facilities are available but you’ll need to bring in your own drinking water.

Forest Tops Campground   |   Forest Tops lies a few minutes from the Brindle Creek trailhead and is the smaller of the two campgrounds with space for just three tents. Similar to Sheepstation Creek, you’ll have access to picnic and barbecue facilities but will need to bring in your own drinking water.

Both campgrounds are operated by the national park. Spots are limited and bookings are essential.

Hidden Valley Camping  |   If you’ve missed out on camping in the park, this sprawling private campground bordered by Grady’s Creek is a great alternative with bathroom facilities and a small cafe on site. Psst… never used Hipcamp before? It’s kinda like Airbnb for camping. Sign up here and receive a A$10 credit towards your first booking.

brindle creek walk. border ranges national park



The Dollhouse Cottage   |   This cute little cottage is located on a hobby farm in the lush foothills of the Border Ranges just 10 minutes north of Kyogle. You’ll find everything you need for a cosy weekend getaway immersed in nature, including a fully equipped kitchen and supplies for a home-cooked breakfast. Check rates and availability here.

Kyogle Country Inn   |   Set along the Summerland Way just south of Kyogle, this motel is a decent choice for an affordable stay in town. All rooms are equipped with a kitchenette, comfortable beds and Netflix, while others include a spa bath. Check rates and availability here.

Silk Pavilions Glamping   |  Located in the serene countryside near Mount Burrell, these luxury safari tents are beautifully decorated with a spacious patio perfect for kicking back and enjoying the sunset over the treetops. Limited wifi and reception on site. Check rates and availability here.

Border Ranges Tips
Best Time To Visit The Border Ranges

While Border Rangers National Park can be visited year round, the shoulder seasons do tend to be the best.

Summer is particularly hot and wet which can be somewhat unpleasant for hiking through the humid rainforests, while winter tends to be dry and clear with chilly temperatures that can plummet into single digits.

Spring and autumn are the best time of year to visit the Border Ranges when temperatures are mild, rainfall has dropped off after the summer peak and the surrounding countryside is left even more lush than before.

If you’ve got daylight savings on your side (October to April), the longer days also allow plenty of time for exploration.

brindle creek walk. evans falls. border ranges national park
Watch Out For Leeches (and snakes)

Being out in the wild and remote bush, this should come as no surprise, but the Border Ranges does play host to a few creepy crawlies which you may want to keep an eye out for during your visit.

Like a lot of damp Aussie rainforests after the last two years of record rainfall, you’re likely to encounter the odd leech in these parts. While I only found a couple on the Brindle Creek Walk, there were quite a few along the muddy rainforest section of the Bar Mountain Circuit. If you’re here during the warmer months, it’s fairly likely there will be a few on the trail.

Wearing a solid pair of hiking boots will help you detect them before they can worm their way too far, using a potent insect repellent on boots and skin may keep them at bay and salt or a solid flick will do the trick to get them off.

You may also encounter snakes out here, which may be present in the dense rainforest but are more common in the brighter, sunnier patches of forest that you’ll find along the edge of the escarpment.

They are far more afraid of you than you may be of them and will always try to get out of your way so if you do see a snake, stand still or back away slowly, keep your distance and allow it time to move on.

border ranges national park walks nsw
border ranges national park walks nsw
Reception Is Limited

Reception is fairly spotty across the Border Ranges National Park so it’s a good idea to download any offline maps or other research you may need before arriving.

You might be able to get a few bars where the road reaches the top of the mountain and at the main lookouts, but deep in the forests reception is limited.

Don't Forget The Park Fees

Border Ranges National Park does come with day use fee of $8 per vehicle, per day. When you enter at either end of the park, you’ll pass a large information panel which has a stash of envelopes for payment in exact cash (there’s no change provided).

For those camping in the park, the day fees are in addition to any camping fees.

If you’re a keen hiker who visits numerous national parks throughout the year, far better is to buy an annual Multi Parks Pass online which is valid for all NSW national parks (except Kosciuszko).

bar mountain circuit. border ranges national park
All Park Roads Are Unsealed

All the roads through the Border Ranges are unsealed though generally in very good condition and easily manageable in a 2WD.

In fact, the worst sections lie outside of the national park on the approach along Forest Road or when leaving via the southern point towards Lillian Rock where the roads are rather rough and strewn with large, loose gravel.

Definitely be careful, if you’re driving in heavy rainfall up here as the roads can become rather slippery.

Fill Up On Fuel

From Kyogle, it’s a minimum 3-hour circuit drive to get through the Border Ranges National Park and back, with several hills and rough roads along the way. It’s a good idea to fill up with fuel before setting heading off so you have enough to last the day.

Don’t do what I did and head into the park on a whim on your way through the mountains with under half a tank and no phone reception. Or be prepared for a very stressful drive back into town with an aggressive fuel light flashing at you and fading hope that a servo will appear up ahead.

brindle creek walking track. border ranges national park
brindle creek walking track. border ranges national park
Onwards Travel

The Border Ranges are spectacular and sit at an excellent junction close to a number of other incredible locations in northern NSW and southern Queensland making it a perfect stop for anyone on an extended road trip through the area.

Below are a few ideas of nearby destinations to add to your adventure.

Nightcap and Jerusalem National Parks   |   If you can’t get enough of the Northern Rivers, nearby Nightcap and Jerusalem National Parks make fantastic additions to any Border Ranges visit and can be reached in just over an hour from Kyogle.

Some trails and roads were damaged in the devastating 2022 floods and are still undergoing maintenance, so be sure to check the park alerts before your visit. Minyon Falls is a popular attraction in the area.

Scenic Rim  |  Wedged up against the border between northern NSW and southern Queensland, a trip to the Border Ranges pairs perfectly with the Scenic Rim and the many beautiful hiking trails concealed within.

It’s just an hour’s drive between the Border Ranges and Rathdowney from where you can access Mount Maroon and Mount Barney National Park, as well as Lamington and Main Range National Parks which are slightly further afield.

mount maroon hike. scenic rim. mount barney national park

Barrington Tops National Park   |   If you’re travelling to or from Sydney on your Border Ranges visit, Gloucester, the gateway to Barrington Tops, makes an excellent stop along the way.

Head into the mountains for the Gloucester Tops Circuit where you’ll be welcomed by pockets of ancient rainforest that would be right at home in a fairytale, sublime viewpoints, countless pretty river scenes and a stunning forest road to guide you up the mountain.

Bald Rock National Park   |   Heading west? Don’t miss the steep rocky scramble up Bald Rock for sunset.

Located just 30 minutes from Tenterfield, Bald Rock is the largest granite mountain in Australia and rises high above the treetops, rewarding visitors with views across northern NSW and the peaks of the Scenic Rim.

Waterfall Way   |   Veering inland from the sparkling north coast, the Waterfall Way guides you from quirky Bellingen, up the steep mountain escarpment to the verdant rainforests of Dorrigo National Park and across the New England Highlands before arriving into Armidale.

Flanked by several national parks, this remote and rugged region conceals some dramatic waterfalls, scenic day walks, vast canyons, abundant wildlife and beautiful drives worthy of a great Aussie road trip. You can find my full 3-day Waterfall Way Itinerary here.

waterfall way itinerary. wollomombi falls. oxley wild rivers national park.

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