5 rainforest hikes you must do near Cairns

Cairns boasts more than just a good ocean game. Its rainforest game is on point as well.

We’ve lined up 5 of the best rainforest hikes, from the highest peak in Queensland, through to the oldest rainforests on earth and into the land of the giant cassowary.

Lace up your boots and let’s get these done; these are the 5 best rainforest hikes to tackle near Cairns.

Easy walk to a waterfall

Barron Gorge - 5 Best rain forest walks near Cairns

Barron Falls is one of the most accessible, and easily one of the most ridiculously good looking, walks you can do. It’s a short 20-minute drive to get here from Cairns and an equally quick walk from your parking spot.

If you want to delve deeper into the surrounding Barron Falls National Park you’re going to need to head towards Stoney Creek and weave through large boulders to get onto the Douglas Track.

This beauty will take you through 7-8km (one way) of giant eucalyptus forests and even a few old mango trees. Say hello as you make your way along the old Kuranda railway construction camps.

King of the mountain

Josephine Falls in Tropical North Queensland

Not only are you going to climb the highest peak in Queensland, you’re also going to get to see Josephine Falls. That’s a double whammy of scenic sexiness.

The Mount Bartle Frere trail starts at Josephine Falls and continues up for about 6-8 hours. That means you need to be prepared to camp at the top or start your day really early. It’s worth it once you get in amongst the bush and realise you’re a mountain climber now. Add that to your CV and pat yourself on the back.

If you’re feeling extra adventure-ish, why not try the Goldfield Trail and get Bartle Frere and Bellenden Kur at once? That’s the two highest peaks in Queensland… multi-tasking has never been so exhausting!

Island summits

Fitzroy Island in Tropical North Queensland

Fitzroy Island is a theme park for hikers but don’t worry, there are no lines.

A 45-minute boat ride from Cairns will get you here and the rainforest trails lead you to beaches, boulders and (if you have the energy) to the summit of the island.

The 3.6km summit track gives you views of the beaches, the reef and rainforest surrounds. Along the way, you can veer off and check out the lighthouse. Once you’re done with all the hard steps try out the Nudey Beach trail and the Secret Garden walk.

Unlike the real world where “hard work pays off”, these return just as much beauty as the summit without the exertion, and even a perfect Tropical North Queensland beach or two.


Mossman Gorge - 5 Best Rain forest walks near Cairns

Mossman Gorge is part of Daintree National Park (more on that later) and it just so happens to be a quick and easy walk. As fun as hiking is, it’s sometimes good to just get out of the car, walk five minutes and be surrounded by rainforest Instagram heaven.

Drive 77km north of Cairns and you’ll arrive at the Mossman Gorge Centre, which will give you all the history of the area and its significance to the Indigenous owners.

You might even get lucky and see a cassowary, which is the bird version of 1970s David Bowie. In other words, it’s colourful and knows how to strut.

Cape Tribulation

Daintree Canopy in Tropical North Queensland

Cape Tribulation is about two hours north of Cairns, so break up the drive with a stop at the Daintree Discovery Centre for all the information you could ever want on the world’s oldest rainforest. 

Out here nature is the boss and that means it deserves respect, none more than Mount Sorrow. It may sound like it’s going to be a bad time, but believe us, it’s not. The views are insane; like you’ve walked into the middle of Jurassic Park and told all the dinosaurs to take a break while you get some good pics and walk around.

This hike takes about five hours return, which means you need to be up for a bit of sweat. Jumping over fallen trees, scrambling up boulders and steep inclines make this hike really exciting.

Water, long pants and sleeves are a must because the weather changes quick on the mountain and you don’t want to be caught out.

If you’re feeling up for an adventure then Mount Sorrow is the place to stretch your legs and open up a can of wanderlust.

Curtain Fig National Park

Curtain Fig Tree - 5 Best rain forest walks near Cairns

Five-hundred years ago a small mammal or bird dropped the seed of a fig tree in the crown of a tree. Thanks to that little critter we have Curtain Fig National Park.

The trunk of this giant tree is 39 metres in circumference, which means the walk AROUND the tree is fun enough. A curtain of fig tree vines fall 15 metres and create a mystical, fantasy setting that movie producers could only dream about. 

Put on your David Attenborough pants and try spotting the Lumholtz tree kangaroo. It lives in the area and looks like a koala crossed with a kangaroo then dipped its face in black paint. It’s weird.

For just an hour and 15-minute drive from Cairns, Curtain Fig National Park makes you think you’re on a different planet.

Did we leave any off? What are your favourite rainforest walks around Cairns?