Arrow Tracks/Mt. Whitfield
It may be only 10 minutes from Cairns CBD, but it still sometimes feels like you’re miles away from anyone when you’re up Mt. Whitfield early in the morning. Four separate tracks provide recreation options for all levels of fitness, from the short, sharp hit of the red arrow, to longer options such as blue and green arrow. Most of the walking tracks can be accessed from the beautiful Tanks entertainment precinct, with the longer Green arrow generally walked one-way (meaning you’ll need to organise a pick-up at the end). Why not combine a quick trip up Mt. Whitfield with your next shopping trip?
Boasting one of the best views of Cairns in the local area, the hike up to Glacier Rock is a great option if you want to get out the house for a few hours and get back to nature. Located within the Barron Gorge National Park, hikers are rewarded with a shaded walk through dense forest, before the trail crosses the Kuranda train track and opens up. Get your timing right and you’ll have the opportunity to see the Kuranda train go past as it ferries tourists up to the Tablelands. The truly adventurous may even want to check out the annual 14km Cairns to Kuranda Race where competitors race the train to the summit!
Smithfield Conservation Park
Located just behind the university, Smithfield Conservation Park is an easy and convenient way to get outdoors and get active. With a variety of trails available, there are options for everyone, from a gentle stroll in the forest to a challenging afternoon hike. Remember that the trails are dual-use and shared with mountain bike riders, so take appropriate precautions and stay visible at all times.
Most hikers recommend setting off early when attempting the punishing 922m ascent of Walsh’s Pyramid, and avoiding the summer season if at all possible. Although the trail is steep, the 360 degree panoramic views from the top are more than worth the effort. Most climbers need around 5 hours for the round trip to and from the summit, although participants in the annual Pyramid race can generally get up and down in under 90 minutes!