Glacier Rock | Cairns – Complete Hiking Guide 2020

glacier rock silhouette 2

Glacier Rock lookout is probably our favourite local hike.  It is only a 15-minute drive from our house which means it’s a fan favourite for anyone with car sickness who hates long drives.  The sheer rock face at the summit of the hike tempts me every time that I drive out of the city along the Western Arterial Road because it can be easily seen if you look towards the mountains of Barron Gorge. 

Whenever we have out-of-state or overseas visitors that fancy a wee hike, this is the one we take them on. Once, my friend and I have walked the connecting MacDonald’s track and Smith’s track that make up the tracks through the Barron Gorge National Park ( but normally we just pump it up and down to the Glacier Rock Lookout.

The Glacier Rock Lookout hike itself is a 6.9 km moderately trafficked steady climb that can be accessed from Stoney Creek Road, Kamerunga.  At the Stoney Creek car park, walk across the footbridge over the creek and look for the Douglas Track on the right-hand side.

There is a 440 m elevation gain over this short hike that winds through the cool rainforest. There is a pleasant undulating track that traverses upwards through the rainforest.  As it starts becoming steeper, there is a wonderful big mango tree where we always have a quick rest and a water break.

You can see a small side track next to the big mango tree that leads out to some boulders and a beautiful view of the Barron Gorge where you can have a wee rest before taking on the next section that crosses over the Kuranda train railway tack. 

Approximately 75% of this walk is shaded except for this exposed section, but boy, let me tell you that that walking up the metal stairs of the bridge over the railway track is BRUTAL. This part will definitely get those thighs burning!

Once you have crossed the bridge then the views over Cairns are awesome because it is not obscured by the rainforest.

The track zigzags across the open countryside until you reach the powerline service track.  At this point, you will see a track on your left-hand side where the Douglas Track meets the MacDonald’s Track.

The track then goes back into the rainforest for approximately 20 minutes. This is one of my favourite sections because the flora and fauna become really lush and tropical.

At the Glacier Rock Lookout, the views over Barron River floodplain are stunning. It is nice and shaded at the lookout which makes it the opportune location for a good photo opportunity, tree climbing and well-deserved picnic break.

Another stellar drawcard of this hike is that there is a lovely creek located at the end of the trail which is unbelievably inviting for a well-deserved swim in the middle of summer adventures.

There are heaps of cool facts about these trails such as that they were originally used by the Djabugay Aboriginal people to travel down from the Tablelands to the coast for food gathering, trading, and ceremonies.

Then, later on, were also used the early European settlers such as gold miners, loggers, railway workers and cattle drovers to access the hinterlands and nowadays by avid fitness enthusiasts in Lorna Jane activewear.

Glacier Rock Lookout Hike Summary

We would class Glacier Rock Lookout trail as a beginner hike that is moderately hard and takes most people between 2 to 2.5 hours return.

We would recommend taking water, snacks, sunscreen, as well as an insect repellent, wearing light clothes and hiking boots especially if it has been raining.

During the wet season, this whole area is leech territory, so we advise wearing long hiking socks and covering your ankles in Vicks VapoRub (random tip but really does the job of deterring those little bloodsuckers very well) or hardcore insect repellent. 

Finally, you should be aware that the infamous stinging trees (the ones with the heart-shaped leaves) reside here too. Otherwise, happy hiking!

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