Far North Queensland is home to some of the best hikes and trails in Australia
It’s hardly surprising when we are surrounded by World Heritage Rainforests, the Great Dividing Range, a range of national parks and of course the Great Barrier Reef.
There are so many incredible hikes within a short distance of Cairns, and what better way to connect with nature, your friends and family than to go for a hike together… From Rainforest to Reef, here are 22 hikes to get your walking shoes on in 2022.
The popular Arrows wind through Mt Whitfield Conservation Park, behind the Cairns Botanic Gardens in Edge Hill. The Park is a 300ha forested mountain range that is home to rainforest, eucalyptus, grasslands and a range of wildlife. Hikes range 1 – 5 hours, so are perfect for those newbies.
The summit and lighthouse tracks offer 360 degree views of the island and ocean, with cheeky seals, dolphins and whales often making an appearance. Although the summit track is a mere 3.6 kilometres, it can get difficult with various hills, stairs and exposed areas, taking around 3 hours return. No doubt – worth the effort.
A great hike for beginners, it’s only 1 kilometre and a 30 minute hike from Stony Creek, Kamerunga. Best thing is, once you have been for a hike, you can have a dip at one of the waterholes.
Generally considered a challenging route, this hike continues on from the Stony Weir Track, getting you higher up the range. You’ll have no lack of views when you reach the Glacier Rock lookout, and you may be lucky enough to spot a cassowary.
Walsh’s Pyramid is the world’s tallest freestanding natural pyramid. This hike is best done in winter or in the early morning to make the most of the sunrise. This is quite a strenuous walk and not for the faint of heart. Due to its natural pyramid shape, this hike is a non-stop slog to the top. This hike is 6.2km and will take you between 3.5-5 hours return.
White Rock Lookout is located on the Lamb Range just beside the suburb of Mount Sheridan. The walking track is within Dinden National Park. This hike is a moderate 5km providing views spanning Cairns to Walsh’s Pyramid and the Gillies Range.
Those up for a serious hiking adventure should definitely consider tackling Queensland’s tallest peak. Mount Bartle Frere offers two trails heading up either side of the mountain, both with stunning views and opportunities to see native wildlife. With an elevation of 1600m, it’s a steep climb. While it is possible to tackle it in a single day if you are an experienced hiker, camping at the summit is also an option.
Windin Falls is one of the best waterfalls in our region. This hike is quite moderate, but best done during the dry season to avoid muddy slippery tracks. The hike is 11.5km return and will take about 3 hours.
This is a sealed pram friendly track and you can walk up with a sports pram if you are up for a challenge. This hike starts from Aloomba, and is considered an easy hike that takes about 1.5 hours return. There’s the beautiful Clamshell Waterfall and swimming spot at the end, perfect for a dip to cool off.
Located in the Atherton Tablelands Wooroonooran National Park, this hike is considered to be relatively moderate, with 5km of narrow tracks and incredible tropical vegetation to hike through. Worth the effort with an opportunity to cool off with a swim when you arrive at the falls.
This walk is twenty minutes, easy and mostly flat, with viewing platforms along the hike to witness the force of the river. This is a wonderful picnic spot too, so stop at Babinda Bakery to grab some yummies to take with you.
This is a popular track for locals of the Northern Beaches, and one you can also take your pooch on. It’s a loop circuit that you can now finish on the shores of Trinity beach. 3.2km and only 45 minutes, this is a great beginners hike or regular go to.
Make a weekend of it and camp at Davies Creek. The Turtle Rock hike is a 6.4km loop trail that takes about 2 hours. It’s a relatively easy to moderate hike with beautiful views to reward you on your arrival.
The waterfall offers a larger, cascading level and deep swimming holes which makes it a perfect spot to cool off all year round. This hike is 2km and only a short 30 minute return on mostly flat ground. Suitable for the whole family.
This is an easy 7.5km track that follows the banks of Hartleys Creek to the falls. It’s a perfect spot to swim and cool off at, with the waterfall adding to the views.
A short drive from Port Douglas to the Mowbray National Park, this rugged moderate track will take 2.5 – 3.5 hours to cover the 6.3km. It’s a pretty spot with a really great swimming spot at the waterfall.
This 6km hike is best done after dry weather as the start is a bit of a climb through dense rainforest. Keep following the road until you get to Copperlode Dam before heading back down for a dip at Crystal Cascades.
The Cattana Wetlands are located in Smithfield. This is a great casual boardwalk for the whole family. You’ll have the opportunity for birdwatching and may even spot a croc.
This 12km trail near Mowbray is considered a moderately challenging route, taking around 4 hours to complete. Located in the foothills behind Port Douglas, this is a popular trail for hiking, mountain biking and bird spotting. The trail climbs from sea level to almost 400 metres within just a couple of kilometres, allowing riders to experience one of the biggest downhill thrills in the region.
If you’re after a day trip filled with wildlife and some gentle walking, this is the place for you. You can enjoy walks ranging 2 – 15km, suitable for the whole family. Entry and use of visitor centre facilities – adult $10.00, child $5.00 and family $25.00. You will be awestruck by the number of native Aussie animals like kangaroos, wallabies and other marsupials, and over 200 species of birds.
This is an easy 45 minute, 3km walk. It’s a great trail for those who love to swim, paddleboard, kayak, or practise their freediving in the 65 metre fresh water crater. There are plenty of picnic spots, but take your own grill, food and drinks (and rubbish when you leave). There is the Frond Cafe and Lake Eacham Holiday park down the road if you want to grab a coffee or bite to eat. Over 180 bird species have been recorded from the rainforest and you may be lucky enough to see one of the few species of marsupial active during daytime—the small musky rat-kangaroo.
This is an epic 2 – 4 day, 32km adventure, rated as one of the top ten walks on the planet. Hinchinbrook Island National Park offers beautiful rainforest and ocean scenery with waterfalls and sandy beaches. With just 40 people permitted to camp on the island at any one time, bookings are essential.