Emerald Creek Falls | Mareeba – Complete Hiking Guide 2020


Emerald creek falls dog

Emerald Creek Falls is a well known local paradise for people from both Mareeba and Cairns.  The pristine waters are always cool and the surrounding scenery blows you away every time. 

How to get to Emerald Creek Falls?

From Cairns, head up the Kuranda range and take the Kennedy Highway towards Mareeba for approximately 60 km. About 10 km past the Davies Creek turn off, pretty much right before you arrive in Mareeba (just 3 km before) there is a signpost for Tinaroo Creek Road. 

Turn left onto it and follow this road for 3 km before turning left onto Cobra Road for another 2 km.  You will soon hit the end of the bitumen and start driving on an unsealed road for another 6 km. There is a large car park at the beginning of the track where you can hopefully find a shady-ish spot to park your car for the day. 

There are several picnic tables, a BBQ and toilets in the shady day-use area near the car park. There is no entrance fee and puppies are allowed on leash here! This brings a big smile to our faces 🙂 

Walking track

The Emerald Creek Falls graded walking track is easy but very exposed and takes about half an hour so be wary of a mid-day steamy start. The distance is 1.9 km return and from the large car park. The track follows the undulating gradients of the terrain through the dry sclerophyll forests. 

At the end of the track there is a lookout that showcases the magnificent view of the falls against the picturesque backdrop of the Atherton Tablelands. After this walk you will definitely enjoy a refreshing cool down in one of the many crystal clear small pools that run along Emerald Creek. 

Follow the creek around the trail, and at this point a ‘wee tad of agility’ is required to get close to the lower section of the falls but is seriously worth the effort. The falls themselves gush over the huge granite boulders into a large pool.

The large flat boulders lend themselves to hours of lazy chilling in and out of the water while you enjoy the scenery. As per all of our waterfall blogs, please be careful on the slippery rock close to the water’s edge (you are an hour’s walk away from your car at the creek).

Natural environment of Emerald Creek, Dinden West Forest Reserve

Emerald Creek originates back in the rainforest-clad heights of the Lamb Range. Emerald Creek Falls is situated in open eucalypt, acacias and grevilleas woodland of Diden West Forest Reserve, where there are large granite boulders that create scenic falls and plunge waterholes. 

There are some epic smooth-barked water gums twisted into some interesting almost fairytale shapes that lean over the creek. You will notice that there are bottlebrush trees that sprout up in between the boulders and rocks and have really pretty seasonal red flowers. It seems that every beautiful swimming spot we discover in FNQ there are the most incredible dragonflies and damselflies. 

The giant petalurid dragonfly, the largest in Australia (their see-through wings have a wingspan of up 18 cm!) landed on the rock right next to where I was sunning myself. Cool trick to distinguishing between dragonflies and damselflies is by looking at them while they are at rest. 

Damselflies hold their wings quite closed and upright whilst dragonflies hold their wings horizontally open. 

This was not the only wildlife that we saw at Emerald Creek. We saw an impressive lizard close to the creek.

Points to remember to enjoy your day at Emerald Creek Falls

Sunscreen, sunnies and a hat. It is hot and exposed at this location so be prepared for the sunshine people. As with all hot days outside, bring enough drinking water to stay happy and hydrated. And because we all love our beautiful Atherton Tablelands, please bring your rubbish back to your car with you and put it in your recycling bin at home.

It is best to visit in the dry season, when the weather is cooler but be cautious that heavy rainfalls can happen at any time of year in FNQ and when this happens the access road can become quite impassable and the water level within the creek can dramatically/scarcely rise without any warning whatsoever, so check your weather apps people.

Watch your kiddies here closely and be careful of jumping and diving into the water because the creek is very shallow and there are loads of objects submerged just under the surface of the water.

In an effort to protect the natural flora and fauna of the reserve, Queensland Parks kindly request that visitors stay on the walking tracks at all times to minimize the risk of erosion, disturbing the native vegetation and of course injuries.

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