From Beach To Bush - The Best Walks and Hikes in Port Douglas and The Daintree

By Sharon Timms
Mar 5, 2020. Last updated Dec 1, 2022


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.

1. 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.


2. Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail

Distance: Approx. 1.3km each way
Fitness level: Easy

A well-traversed spot for a morning YAWP and breathtaking view! 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.

Don’t feel like walking? You can drive or ride up to the lookout – whichever option you choose, you’ll still be treated to the same glorious views that encapsulate the Tropical North Queensland environment so well.

IMAGE CREDIT: IG/@andrewwatsonphoto

3. The Bump Track & Mowbray Falls

Distance: Approx. 12km return (to the very top)
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…).

This little doozy is a morning ritual for many locals for a whole lotta reasons. It’s super accessible, only about a 10-minute drive from Port Douglas, and it'll test every bit of physical strength you thought you had! Well, that's for the mad fools who run it. For those who prefer to live long and prosperous lives, walking it is a wonderful way to start the day.

There are several sections to this walk. First stop is 'The Seat', a conveniently placed park bench that overlooks the Mowbray Valley out to Low Isles (2km); Robbins Creek, a rainforest oasis where, if you listen hard enough you can hear the rainforest breathing (4km); finishing at Black Mountain Road (6.5km). For the truly adventurous, detour off from the top and head out to Mowbray Falls (a further 4km each way), a majestic waterfall complete with its own infinity pool.

Oh, one more thing, it goes straight up for the first 2kms.

IMAGE CREDIT: Penny Wiltshire

4. Spring Creek Falls

Distance: Approx. 7km return
Fitness level: Moderate

Not too far from the Bump Track you’ll find the ‘trailhead’ to Spring Creek Falls, a popular swimming spot amongst the locals. At the end of Spring Creek Road lies the beginning of the walk to the falls. With no clear specific path, simply rockhop the creek along to the falls – there’s plenty of small waterholes and waterfalls along the way, with the oh-so-swimmable Spring Creek Falls at the end. Exercise caution on the uneven and rocky ground on your way up, though.

Once arrived, relax and enjoy a swim in the deep rock pools. Be sure to bring plenty of water and some food up with you as the trek is approximately 1.5 to 2 hours each way.


5. Mossman Gorge Rainforest Circuit

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!


6. The Daintree Boardwalks

Distance: 1KM - 5KM
Fitness level: Easy

Kulki Boardwalk to Cape Tribulation Beach Lookout - (10 minutes)

The lookout path is concreted and starts near the toilets, and takes you to a viewing platform on the north side of the Cape Tribulation headland, with great views to the north of the mountains and the beaches. Towards Cape Tribulation, you can see the profusion of vines, especially matchbox beans, whose enormous pods you can see dangling in the tree tops.

Cape Tribulation beach to the north of the entrance, is an excellent example of the natural beach vegetation (called ‘littoral’ rainforest ). This fringing littoral rainforest protects the beach from the action of storm surges, acting as a sort of natural shock absorber.

Marrdja Botanical Walk - 30 minutes

Located 10 minutes drive to the south of Cape Tribulation. A boardwalk and concrete pathway leads you through high value rainforest with interpretive signs to Oliver Creek, where you can sit and watch out for large lizards... Go early morning or late afternoon to avoid the rush!

Jindalba Boardwalk - (30 minutes)

To get to the start of both these walks turn off Cape Tribulation Road at the Daintree Discovery Centre, into Tulip Oak Road in Cow Bay.

The Jindalba Boardwalk meanders through lush lowland rainforest. In places the boardwalk is elevated up to 4 metres above the ground keeping your feet dry as it crosses creeks and swampy areas. From the vantage point of the boardwalk you can enjoy views of the surrounding lowland rainforest. From information signs along the way, learn about the ecology and diversity of the rainforest and find out how different species have evolved to surive in this tropical environment. Early morning and late afternoon are good times to spot the Bennett's Tree Kangaroo and if you're lucky, you may also see a cassowary.

Dubuji Boardwalk - (1 hour)

The entrance to the Dubuji car park is signposted on the main road at Cape Tribulation. Park here and look for the entrance to the Dubuji Boardwalk (a 1.8 km interpretive boardwalk through the forest and mangroves). You can exit onto the beach and walk back via the mangrove boardwalk which exits the beach 200 metres to the north or return through to the Dubuji car park.

7. Devil’s Thumb (Manjal Jimali)

Distance: Approx. 10KM
Fitness level: Experienced

Just saying the name of this walk sets the tone of what’s to come. This one is certainly a challenge, even for the fit bunnies hopping amongst us. But as they say, no pain, no gain! Known to the Kuku Yalanji as ‘Manjal Jimali’, the trailhead is located in the Whyanbeel Valley, about 20 minutes north of Mossman. It’s got all the ingredients to rival an MKR cook-off – hard work and sweat, smiles through gritted teeth and perhaps a few tears – of joy – when you reach the summit. The path is tough, the rock scrambling and vine pulling will test the best, and although the hike itself is *only* 10km return, it'll feel like a billion at the end. Totally worth it.

IMAGE CREDIT: IG/@reubennutt

8. Mount Sorrow

Distance: Approx. 10KM
Fitness level: Experienced

This trail in the Daintree National Park is a good 'un for those who like a challenge! Be warned though, Mount Sorrow is not for everyone—only experienced bushwalkers with above average fitness should attempt this trail which is quite steep and difficult in spots with lots of log scrambling required in places. This hike takes you along the ridgeline of Mount Sorrow and through lush tropical Daintree rainforest. Once you reach the lookout you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the Daintree coastline and beyond.

The climb begins immediately through lowland rainforest and becomes steeper after passing the 2km marker. Tree roots cover the track in places, making for a tough scramble. After the 3km mark the track enters open forest for the last 500 metres to a lookout platform with magnificent views out over the rainforest to the reef. Return via the same route.

Do you have a favourite Port Douglas Daintree walking track? Tell us about it in the comments below!


Don't miss a minute

Stay up to date with the latest travel inspiration, receive exclusive offers and more