Beach to bush: Port Douglas day hiking trails you need in your life

There’s no doubt about it - road trips are pretty epic in North Queensland (Great Barrier Reef Drive, anyone?), but they’ll only get you so far. There are some places only your feet can take you, and – good news for avid walkers - pounding the pavement has never looked so good with so many dramatic coastlines, remote rainforests and hamstring-hammering hilltops up here. Whether you tackle these as an early morning wake-up call or a longer soul-searching odyssey, one thing’s for certain - the scenery of these Port Douglas and Daintree hiking trails will take your breath away faster than any day hike will.

Four Mile Beach

Port Douglas hiking Four Mile Beach

Distance: Approx. 4km (not miles…)
Fitness level: Easy

Salute the sun with a run along the famous Four Mile Beach, with the Chariots Of Fire theme song playing on repeat in your head – because #fitspo. With golden sand stretching as far as the eye can see, crystal-clear water lapping gently against the shore and palm trees swaying in the coastal breeze, it’s very easy to lose track of time on the famous Four Mile Beach. To find it, head north from the South Four Mile car park until you reach the stairs leading to the Flagstaff Hill Lookout and walking trail. The stairs look like a bunch of kittens in a basket until you actually run them a few times, then they take their true form of poison-dipped warrior daggers in your calves and chest. Trust us, the view from the top’s worth it, so keep calm and carry on.

Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail

Port Douglas hiking
Image: @andialloway

Distance: Approx. 1.3km
Fitness level: Easy

This newly developed 1.3km walking trail provides a link between Four Mile Beach and Rex Smeal Park, guaranteeing magnificent views out towards Low Isles, Snapper Island and the Daintree Rainforest. Keep your phone handy because this walk comes complete with a breathtaking viewing platform that hovers over the Coral Sea. Wrapping itself around the pinnacle point of Port Douglas, the track meanders through bushland up to the Flagstaff Hill Lookout, then back down to the iconic Rex Smeal Park. Be sure to stop for a moment and take in the majestic beauty of the giant fig tree with its tendrils that create a dramatic natural archway.

Mossman Gorge Circuit

Elevated walkways Mossman Gorge

Distance: Approx. 2.4km
Fitness level: Easy

Mossman Gorge is the twinkle in the eye of the Daintree Rainforest, and the Mossman Gorge Circuit takes in the natural beauty of the area, complete with lush green foliage with pops of bright blue when large Ulysses butterflies swoon about. After bussing into parkland from the Mossman Gorge Centre ($6 return), the first part of the walk is on an easy elevated boardwalk that follows the river. Just past Rex Creek Bridge on the left, you’ll find the Mt Demi lookout and the start of the ‘Rainforest Circuit’ – an easy and well-signed track that will get you up close and personal in this spectacular rainforest world. The canopy of the tall trees provide relief from the balmy tropics, but the real reward is a dip in one the many swimming holes - some of the coldest and clearest water around. This is one walk where you’ll want to pack your swimmers!

The Bump Track

Port Douglas hiking Bump Track
Image: @riancope

Distance: Approx. 6km
Fitness level: Moderate

Want to feel virtuous after your walk? The historic Bump Track delivers booty-busting walking conditions. This 6km track was originally an Indigenous trail between the coastal and mountain regions, and in the early days of settlement was a crucial link between Port Douglas and the hinterland for settlers and miners, which you can be read about on the information boards. Of all the jobs in the world, one can be truly grateful they were never a ‘spare boy’ on the Bump Track – responsible for chocking the back wheels of horse-drawn wagons at the steepest inclines to ensure no wagons rolled backwards (which they sometimes did…).

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