7 Awesome Cairns Hikes

Published on: 5 June 2021
Large rock surrounded by rainforest

With world heritage listed tropical rainforest, sweeping views and the Great Dividing Range at your doorstep, the Cairns region is a hiker’s ultimate playground. Whether you prefer something slow and steady or challenging these 8 must do Cairns hikes will sure to impress. Read on to uncover the best hikes in Tropical North Queensland.

1. Glacier Rock

Girl sitting overlooking rainforest at sunrise
Image: IG/_sarahlatham

A local’s favourite, Glacier Rock is a 6 or so km return hike with views across the north Cairns region and out to the Coral Sea. The start of this Cairns hike can be found just a 20 minute drive from the Cairns CBD at the popular swimming hole Stoney Creek. From here you can follow the marked trail up and through the rainforest. The Glacier Rock hike takes about 1.5 to 3 hours, pending on your fitness ability (and how often you want to stop for photos!) with the summit providing beautiful views. If you time your hike along with the Kuranda Scenic Railway, the tourist train will pass underneath you half way up!

2. Spring Creek

Spring Creek Falls Port Douglas
Photo by Jason Heffernan

Staying in Port Douglas and wanting to stretch your legs? Spring Creek is the answer. One of the lesser known Cairns hikes, the start of the Spring Creek hike is only a 15 minute drive from Port Douglas. With no set trail, rock hop your way down the creek, crossing sides as required. There are a few beautiful swimming holes along the way but if you continue on your journey you’ll be greeted with a beautiful waterfall and large swimming hole.

3. Windin Falls

Scenic waterfall top looking over rainforest
Image: Tourism & Events Queensland

Ah, one for the Instagram fans among us. Windin Falls shot to Instagram fame a few years ago thanks to its stunning location with incredible scenic views across Wooroonooran National Park. Found about 90 minutes out of Cairns, the hike to Windin Falls will take you approximately 70 minutes, but once you see the view it is worth every step of the journey. Please remember to take extreme care while you are here.

4. Walsh’s Pyramid

Man standing on mountain overlooking rainforest and cane fields
Image: IG/@lifeofthederek

The world’s tallest natural free standing pyramid? Yeah we’ll tick that off our list, thanks! 30 minutes south of Cairns, you’ll find Walsh’s Pyramid (or simply ‘The Pyramid’ to the locals). This 6km return hike will take you 922m above ground to some of the most spectacular views of the Cairns South, surrounding cane fields and tropical rainforest. Be sure to commence this Cairns hike early in the day and if you want to join in on the fun, every August the Great Pyramid Race is held where participants run from the nearby Gordonvale village to the summit and back.

5. Kahlpahlim Rock

Large rock surrounded by rainforest
Image: IG/chloektodd

Kahlpahlim Rock is not for the faint hearted; however, if you are an enthusiastic hiker it is one of the best Cairns hikes. Situated in Davies Creek National Park, Kahlpahlim Rock is also known as Lambs Head and is the highest point on Lambs Range at 1300m above sea level. Leave early in the morning and expect to take a full day on this beautiful and challenging 12.6km looped track.

6. Mt Bartle Frere

Girl standing in lush rainforest Cairns Hikes
Image: IG/chloektodd

The tallest mountain in Queensland, Mt Bartle Frere stands at 1, 622m in elevation, just over an hour south of Cairns. While this hike can be completed in a day, it is a popular overnight hike with camping areas along the trail (see here for camping information). Time your visit to Mt Bartle Frere between August and October for a greater chance at taking in the views from the summit, which is usually only visible less than 10% of the year.

7. Behana Gorge

Girl standing on rocks near waterfall
Image: IG/champagneandcheese

And rounding out our list of Cairns hikes is the beautiful Behana Gorge. Found just 30 minutes south of Cairns (and right near the earlier mentioned Walsh’s Pyramid), Behana Gorge is a popular local’s hike. This paved and hilly trail takes approximately 1.5 hours return, but you’re going to want to spend longer once you arrive at the impressive Clamshell Falls. An easily accessible but great way to get the heart pumping, we highly recommend ticking this Cairns hike off your list.

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