The Eastern Escarpment Conservation Area (EECA) is a 186-hectare reserve located in Mount Cotton that forms the upper catchment of Eprapah Creek.
The reserve plays an important role in recreational and biological connectivity across Redlands Coast, and its acquisition and maintenance form part of a broader Redland City Council strategy to provide a range of visitor experiences.
The EECA is mostly open eucalypt forest, with smaller sections of dry rainforest. It offers trails for walking, mountain biking (MTB) and horse riding. Some trails offer adaptive mountain biking (aMTB) access for riders with physical, intellectual, neurological or sensory limitations.
The EECA is also unique from other reserves on Redlands Coast in that it offers dedicated use black diamond MTB trails, with obstacles and features to challenge the most experienced mountain biker.
Visiting the Eastern Escarpment Conservation Area
The reserve is open from 4am to 10pm daily
Key features and facilities
- 29 kilometres of bushwalking, mountain biking, and horse riding trails.
- Adaptive Mountain Biking (aMTB) access at Gate 2 and 5 and aMTB trails.
- 180-degree views of the South-East Queensland region from the summit viewing deck.
- A biodiverse ecosystem that includes endangered and rare species of plants and animals.
- Bird and butterfly watching.
- Natural conservation bushland and open green space.
- Main trailhead (Gate 2) facilities include formal and informal car parking, shelter, toilets, horse hitching, bike repair station and drinking water.
- Most gate access points include an orientation map, but may have formal, informal, limited or no car parking.
Getting there and parking
The Eastern Escarpment Conservation Area (EECA) lies to the east of West Mount Cotton Road, Sheldon. The main trailhead is on West Mount Cotton road approximately 950 metres from Mount Cotton Road/ West Mount Cotton Road intersection, opposite Schoeck Road.
Be sure to use the signposted car parks and trail entrances provided to avoid trespassing on the surrounding land, as it's privately owned.
EECA gate access guide
- Gate 1: Extensive informal parking, step-through access beside gate.
- Gate 2: Limited formal and horse float parking (two spaces) with extensive informal parking. Step-through access with trail map, shelter, toilets, disabled access, horse hitching and stiles, aMTB access, bike repair station, and drinking water.
- Gate 3: Carpark with 23 car spaces and two horse floats spaces. Step-through access beside the gate with map.
- Gate 4: Limited informal verge parking, no public access (maintenance vehicle access only).
- Gate 5: Informal parking for 4-5 vehicles. Step-through access with map, aMTB access, and horse stiles.
- Gate 6: No parking. Step-through access beside the gate with map.
- Gate 7: No parking. Step-through access beside the gate with map.
- Gate 8: Carpark with 4-5 formal spaces. Step-over access beside the gate (log obstruction) with map.
- Gate 9: No parking. Step-over access beside the gate (inc. for horses) with map.
For more access information, please see our Visitor Resources.
Making the most of your visit
When using tracks and trails on Redlands Coast, be sure to follow trail etiquette:
- Stay on the trail – don’t cut corners
- Only use trails in dry weather – we may close the park in wet conditions to preserve them
- Obey all signs, including weather closures
- Be considerate and protect our bushland areas, keeping them enjoyable for all – please pick up your horses’ droppings and clean hoofs to help stop the spread of invasive plants and weeds.
- The land surrounding this reserve is privately owned, all visitors must stick to mapped trails to avoid trespassing. Note: all of the Summit Track is now approved for pubic users with agrement of landholder.
- Visitor Guide [PDF 151KB] to the Eastern Escarpment Conservation Area (Council PDF download)
- Visitor Map [PDF 270KB] for the Eastern Escarpment Conservation Area (Council PDF download)
- Trailforks EECA Trail Maps for hikers, mountain biking and more (external website)
- Where to Mountain Bike SEQ [PDF 1.3MB] including mountain bike trails and parking (external browser PDF)
Wildlife and plants
The reserve's ecosystem is valued for its biodiversity and endangered species. During your visit, you may find:
- Migratory birds, great for bird watching
- Butterfly watching
- Notophyll vine forest - Eastern Escarpment has one of 12 small remnant patches found on Redlands Coast. This habitat sustains a variety of fruit-eating birds – many of which migrate seasonally from upland to lowland rainforest.
- Native Jute Corchorus cunninghamii – an endangered plant species.
- Macadamia nut tree Macadamia integrifolia – a vulnerable plant species.
- Richmond Birdwing butterfly Ornithoptera richmondia – a vulnerable butterfly.
- The birdwort vine species Pararistolochia pravenosa – its presence in the reserve may support the recovery of butterfly numbers.
About the Reserve: The ‘Recovery Trail’
Redland City Council has progressively purchased this conservation area, which is maintained through its Environmental levy, an initiative to preserve areas of environmental importance across the city.
Prior to this, sections of the reserve faced the pressures of quarrying and housing. The site was also subject to illegal dumping and degradation caused by off-road vehicles and motorcycle use.
Historically, the area was also used as a source of timber. Many of the original timber tracks still exist, although these were often built for practicality rather than sustainability.
Council has undertaken extensive rehabilitation works to the EECA, including building sustainably designed trails, closure and rehabilitation old vehicle trails, revegetation, signage installation and illegal access management. The EECA is a regionally important conservation area that is home to many species of plants and animals, and offers recreational experiences for all to enjoy.