There’s no better way to immerse yourself in Far North Queensland’s pristine nature than exploring it by foot. We’ve compiled a bucket list of the top hikes near Cairns to get you up close and personal to the beauty of Tropical North Queensland.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Gimuy-walubarra yidi people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


There’s no doubt about it, from its unrivalled rainforests and tropical beaches, Far North Queensland has earned a well-deserved reputation for being one of the top playgrounds for nature lovers, and there are many hikes around Cairns to witness this beauty firsthand.

From winding trails, set under lush rainforest canopies, to tracks overlooking sprawling ocean vistas, we’ve created a list of the top hikes around Cairns and surrounds. Oh, and did we mention they’re all free?

Here are some of the best hiking trails around Cairns to get your heart and endorphins pumping.

Please note! The best time to tackle Cairns hiking trails is during the Dry Season (April-October). However, if you choose to do these walks in Wet Season, aim to head off early in the day and bring plenty of water. Also, check for flooding closures before setting off and be mindful of river crossings.

1. Earl Hill

Distance: 3.6km
Time: Approx. 1.5 hours
Location: Trinity Park

Set amongst a canopy of bushland lies the gorgeous Earl Hill Summit Walk. Take the meandering pathway up past gorgeous rainforest and cycads, to reach sprawling views over the sea. Starting at the corner of Flagship and Roberts Drive, this walk has a couple of options.

You can either take the path up to the top of the summit, which makes for a stunning outlook over Double Island, Buchan Point, and the Yarrabah Ranges or veer off to the right (approximately three-quarters of the way up the trail) and follow the track along the coastal route.


Top Hikes Around Cairns, Delia Pema

The Earl Hill coastal track


This’ll land you at Half Moon Bay, a stretch of sandy beach dotted with tropical palm trees. Circuit easily back to the car park from this point, or if you’re at the summit, simply follow the path back to where you began.

Worked up a sweat? Finish off your walk with an ice-cold beverage at Trinity Beach and a dip in the sea (just check the beach report before jumping in the water!). This walk is dog friendly, so there’s no reason for your furry friend to miss out on the fun.

Read more: How To Stay Safe in Croc Country

How to Get There

You’ll find this hike 20km north of Cairns City Centre. The trailhead entrance is on the corner of Flagship Drive and Roberts Drive.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

2. Glacier Rock

Distance: 6km
Time: Approx. 2-3 hours
Location: Barron Gorge National Park

Glacier Rock trail is one of the many pristine Djabugay tracks – connecting Cairns to the tablelands – located in the Barron Gorge National Park.

Offering up expansive views from the summit, Glacier Rock makes for an optimal spot to catch sunrise. Start your walk from the magical Stoney Creek National Park; there’s a car park mere metres away from the trailhead.


Top Hikes Around Cairns, Delila Pema, windin falls infinity pool, river

Take a dip in Stoney Creek


Follow the Douglas trailhead through the lush rainforest and revel in the bird song and cicadas. Approximately halfway up the track, you’ll reach a bridge that allows you to cross over the railway (which services the Kuranda train).

Following on from the bridge, there’s a set of metal stairs guaranteed to get your step count up and your heart pumping! From this point, the forest opens into expansive, grassy bushland.

The last part of the track ascends through a dirt bush trail before reaching the summit, giving off second-to-none views over Cairns. What I particularly love about this walk is the variety it offers, from thick rainforest to open bushland and sweeping views, it’s a visual feast.


Top Hikes Around Cairns, Delia Pema

Snap a pic at the top


Wind your way back down the way you came, and finish off with a splash in the crystal clear waters of Stoney Creek – the perfect way to finish your walk!

Read more: Staying Safe Around Swimming Holes

How to Get There

Drive to Kamerunga, and turn off onto Stoney Creek Road, just before the Barron River Kamerunga Bridge. Follow the road along to the car park and access the trail from the bottom.

3. Windin Falls

Distance: 11.5km
Time: Approx. 2.5-3 hours
Location: Wooroonooran National Park

Located in the pristine Wooroonooran National Park, Windin Falls is a dream hike to add to the bucket list. To reach it, you’ll enjoy a scenic drive up the Gillies Range, a popular tourist drive running from Gordonvale to the Atherton Tablelands.

With breathtaking views over tree-lined mountain ranges, a huge waterfall, and a natural infinity pool at the top, Windin Falls sets the bar high when it comes to hikes with spectacular scenery.

Pass by untouched woodland to reach the summit, and splash into crystal clear waters at the top,  ending your sweaty hike with respite. Combine your trip to Windin Falls with some exploring around the tablelands.

A popular choice is to stay in Yungaburra, a quaint town, just a stone’s throw away from the hike, with an array of cute cafes, shops, and the gorgeous Lake Eacham on its doorstep.

Please note! Due to the slippery, muddy nature of the track and flash flooding, this walk is best avoided after rainfall.


View from the top of Windin Falls


How to Get There

Follow the Gillies Range from Cairns up to the tablelands. The Windin Falls walk commences from the Gourka Road car park, Atherton Tablelands.

The Arrows

Red Arrow/Yellow Arrow/Blue Arrow/Green Arrow

The Arrows are set in the Mount Whitfield Conservation Park, and are by far the most popular hikes in Cairns, every day attracting a plethora of people.

Easy to access, with starting points close to the centre of Cairns, these four hikes range in difficulty. Each trail also leads into the next, so you can either complete them in sections or create a full day of hiking.

4. Red Arrow

Distance: 1.5km return
Time: Approx. 45 minutes
Location: Mount Whitfield Conservation Area

Starting from the impressive Cairns Botanic Gardens and the trendy suburb of Edge Hill, the Red Arrow is short and snappy.

It often attracts time-pressed individuals who want to squeeze a hike into their day – and due to its many stairs, a major cardio workout too.


Top Hikes Around Cairns, Delia Pema

The Red Arrow trail gives you a good workout!


The trail is set amongst tropical rainforest and thick bamboo forests. You can often spot wallabies grazing in the foliage and a host of native birds.

Take in the magical views from the top: over the sea and Cairns Airport, or continue along to reach the Yellow Arrow Lookout, which offers a similar view (just from a higher and more spectacular altitude!).

How to Get There

Access to this trail is next to the Cairns Botanic Gardens.

5. Yellow Arrow

Distance: 1.9km return
Time: Approx. 1.5 hours
Location: Mount Whitfield Conservation Area

Unlike the Red Arrow, The Yellow Arrow is a little less ‘built up’, comprised of a graded dirt track, as opposed to a concrete one. In saying that, it’s still easily accessible and well-worn.

This trail wraps its way around Lumley Hill and is shaded in most parts. Unlike, the thick rainforest set around the Red Arrow, the Yellow Arrow is made up of sections of sparser rainforest, as well as open, grassy bushland.


Top Hikes Around Cairns, Delia Pema

The yellow arrow lookout


With both walks, you have the option to either return the same way you came or take the alternate walk down and follow a mangrove path back to either of the car parks.

How to Get There

Access to this trail next to the Cairns Botanic Gardens, or from The Yellow Arrow car park situated in Aeroglen.

6. Blue Arrow

Distance: 6km return
Time: Approx. 2.5 hours
Location: Mount Whitfield Conservation Area

At the top of the Yellow Arrow lookout, climbers have the option to start the Blue Arrow Circuit. Bushwalking experience is recommended for those wishing to hike the Blue and Green trails.

A moderately challenging route, Blue Arrow is a mixture of rainforest, and open Eucalypt forest. The Blue Arrow is less trafficked than the Red and Yellow and consists of slightly rougher terrain, with lots of ups and downs.

I suggest taking a picnic on this walk so you can have a rest and make a day of it. Complete a full circuit of the Blue Arrow or join onto the Green Arrow about halfway around the track.

How to Get There

Access to the trail is via the Red Arrow or Yellow Arrow walking trail.

7. Green Arrow

Distance: 3km one way (not including linking from the other walks)
Time: Approx. 1.5 hours
Location: Mount Whitfield Conservation Area

The Green Arrow is a steep, 3km one-way track, winding its way over Mount Whitfield’s highest point before working its way downwards where climbers will surface onto Bel Air Drive.

It’s possible to link all trails into one big walk back to the beginning of Red Arrow on Collin’s Avenue. Featuring urban and natural views, this walk makes its way through uneven terrain, so a good pair of shoes is recommended.

How to Get There

This trail is accessed from the top of the Blue Arrow loop.

8. The Pyramid

Distance: 6km
Time: Approx. 5-6 hours
Location: Wooroonooran National Park

Walshs Pyramid is the highest free-standing natural pyramid in the world, making it well deserving of any hiker’s list of walks to conquer.

South of the Mulgrave River Bridge, and located in the Wooroonooran National Park, the pyramid lies. Not for the fainthearted, those who are after a more challenging hike this is your option!


Top Hikes Around Cairns, Delila Pema, pyramid mountain, sugarcane

View of Walsh’s Pyramid


A steep and rocky track, the Pyramid walk has low-lying Australian shrubbery, which means no shade. However, those who venture up it are rewarded with spectacular and unparalleled 360-degree views from its peak.

Walkers are urged to commence the trek early in the morning, bring plenty of water, and allow plenty of time to return before dark.

How to Get There

Turn right onto Moss Road, approximately 800m south of the Mulgrave River bridge, and follow the signs to the trailhead car park.


Top Hikes Around Cairns, Delia Pema

The trail offers spectacular views of the farmland below

A Note on Leave No Trace

When out on the country surrounding Cairns and walking these trails, I encourage you to adapt a Djabugay mindset. The Djabugay belief is that visitors should walk one track, meaning that they should not only stay on the walking tracks provided but have the utmost respect for the land – taking only photographs and leaving behind only footprints.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

FAQs Hikes Near Cairns

What is the best hiking trail in Cairns?

From tracks set amidst tropical rainforest to trails winding through bushland offering up sweeping views, Cairns has a hike on offer to cater to every individual need and fitness level.

Is hiking in Cairns safe?

There are lots of well-established hikes in Cairns to safely immerse yourself in the beautiful nature of Far North Queensland. Just remember to always hike in daylight hours, bring plenty of water, stick to the paths, watch where you put your feet, and ensure you look up any potential weather hazards before setting off.

What is the hardest hike in Cairns?

The hardest hike in Cairns is Walshs Pyramid, due to its steep incline, but the views from the top make it well worth the while!

How long does it take to walk Glacier Rock?

Glacier Rock walk takes approximately 2-3 hours to complete.

What’s the most famous scenic place near Cairns?

Situated on the doorstep of Cairns is The Great Barrier Reef, one of the most scenic places near Cairns, and arguably one of the most scenic in the world.