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The 6 Best Cape Tribulation Hikes

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Wed 29 Nov 2023

For any nature and adventure lovers out there, here are some of the best Cape Tribulation hikes in the Daintree Rainforest! The Daintree Rainforest is the oldest tropical rainforest on Earth, and it's just a couple hours north of Cairns. Visitors to the Daintree tend to stay in Cape Tribulation, a tiny little community nestled in the midst of the Daintree Rainforest National Park. 

Cape Tribulation consists of a few streets and a few lodges and tourist centres. It's super small and isolated, and it's the perfect place to base yourself for hikes in the Daintree. While staying in Cape Tribulation, consider trying any of these amazing Daintree Rainforest hikes! Whether you want a peaceful stroll through the forest or a challenging trek up a mountain, you can exercise your body and mind while hiking on any of these Cape Tribulation trails. 

group hiking in the rainforest near Cairns Australia

  1. Dubuji Boardwalk
  2. Mount Sorrow Ridge Trail
  3. Emmagen Creek Swimming Hole
  4. Kulki Boardwalk
  5. Cape Tribulation Beach to Emmagen Creek
  6. Madja Boardwalk

How to get to the Best Daintree Hikes

Most of these Daintree hikes are within walking distance of most accommodations in Cape Tribulation. You can just walk from Cape Tribulation to the starting point of these walks, though you will save time if you have a car. It just depends on which hikes you plan to take on! 

For example, the Emmagen Creek Walk starts about 5km north of Cape Tribulation, and the Madja Boardwalk is about 7km south of Cape Tribulation. For these hikes, it's more convenient to drive to the starting point. If you're visiting Cape Tribulation on a tour from Cairns, you won't have a car so you may want to just try one of the nearby hikes like the Dubuji Boardwalk. But if you're going on an independent adventure and you've driven up from Cairns with your own car or with a campervan rental, you can drive to any of these Daintree hikes!

car driving near a creek in the daintree

What to bring for hiking in the Daintree Rainforest

Before embarking on a Daintree hiking adventure, it's a good idea to be well-prepared. You will be exploring the rainforest in a very remote and wild area, so make sure you have the right gear and equipment to stay safe out in the wilderness. You'll need to pack plenty of water and snacks to sustain you for your hike as the only shops available in the Cape Tribulation area are in town itself. Even there, there's only one small general store, so you may want to bring some stuff up from Cairns to Cape Tribulation. 

Here is a quick list of what to pack for any Daintree Rainforest hikes:

  • Plenty of water
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen)
  • Good quality hiking shoes
  • Rainjacket and waterproof bag during rainy season

Note that Cairns has both a rainy season and a dry season. For rainy season, it's a good idea to wear clothes that you don't mind getting wet or muddy. Also, make sure you have sturdy hiking shoes that won't have you slipping and sliding if it starts to rain! If it's a sunny day, sun protection is always a good idea even if you're hiking in the shade of the rainforest canopy. 

group going hiking on a rainforest trail

The 6 Best Cape Tribulation Hikes

Now let's get into the best Cape Tribulation hikes and walks! These trails are varied, from easy, flat walks along a boardwalk to steep mountain hikes. There are a couple of challenging Daintree hikes that are only suitable for experienced and fit hikers, whereas others are suitable for families and those with wheechairs. Just make sure you pick a walk that suits your fitness level!

1. Dubuji Boardwalk

  • Total distance: 1.8km loop
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting point: Starts on the eastern side of Cape Tribulation Road, within walking distance from Cape Tribulation accommodations

The Dubuji Boardwalk is an easy and informative Cape Tribulation walk suitable for people of all ages and those with wheelchairs. Start at the Dubuji Boardwalk day use area which has toilets and picnic tables. All you have to do is follow the well-maintained boardwalk as it loops through the dense rainforest! You'll pass by wildlife-filled mangroves and get to step out onto the pristine and deserted shores of Myall Beach. 

girls walking along a boardwalk in the rainforest

2. Mount Sorrow Ridge Trail

  • Total distance: 7.1km return
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Starting point: Starts on the western side of Cape Tribulation Road, about 150m past the Kulki Boardwalk in Cape Tribulation

Experienced hikers looking for a challenge can tackle the Mount Sorrow Ridge Trail, a steep hike up into the mountains that rewards you with panoramic views of the surrounding forest, ocean, and islands. This hike takes you through remote rainforest where you can potentially spot wildlife. Just note that this hike can be a bit slippery is rainy weather, so you're better to save it for a clear, sunny day. 

girl looking at islands and rainforest through binoculars

3. Emmagen Creek Swimming Hole

  • Total distance: 1.3km return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting point: Starts at the small, unmarked parking area just before Emmagen Creek on Bloomfield Road, about 5km north of Cape Tribulation

One of the most rewarding Cape Tribulation hiking routes is the pathway to Emmagen Creek. This magical oasis is perfect croc-free swimming spot where the crystal clear, refreshing creek waters are shaded by the vibrant rainforest canopy. To reach Emmagen Creek Swimming Hole, you have to walk along a rainforest trail that branches off from the road. It's a peaceful, secluded walk, just be careful of branches as the forest can be quite overgrown here. 

girl wading into a blue swimming hole in the daintree

4. Kulki Boardwalk

  • Total distance: 600m return walk
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting point: Starts at Kulki Boardwalk day use area, just a short walk north of Cape Tribulation

Another one of the best Cape Tribulation walks is the Kulki Boardwalk. This short, easy, and accessible boardwalk winds gently through the Daintree Rainforest and emerges onto a wide viewing platform. At the end of the Kulki Boardwalk you can enjoy beautiful views of the Coral Sea and Cape Tribulation Beach. This part of the Australian coastline is where two World Heritage Sites meet, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef!

girls standing at the kulki boardwalk lookout

5. Cape Tribulation Beach to Emmagen Creek

  • Total distance: 6.3km return
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Starting point: Starts at the car park at Cape Tribulation Beach

If you want to take on a more ambitious route to Emmagen Creek, you can hike there from Cape Tribulation! Instead of driving up to the creek, hike along the coast from Cape Tribulation Beach. Just head north and admire the gorgeous coastal views, passing giant fig trees and maybe spotting a cassowary along the way. When you arrive at Emmagen Creek, follow the same path mentioned earlier to reach the glorious swimming hole. 

cape tribulation beach and rainforest

6. Madja Boardwalk

  • Total distance: 1.2km return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting point: Starts at the side of Cape Tribulation Road near Noah Beach, about 7km south of Cape Tribulation

Located just a short drive south of Cape Tribulation lies another peaceful Daintree Rainforest walk. The Madja Boardwalk brings visitors through the lowland rainforest and across the serene Noah Creek. Check out the informational signs along the way to learn about the exotic flora and fauna of the world's oldest rainforest! After strolling along this peaceful walkway, pay a visit to the Daintree Ice Cream Company to reward yourself with some handmade tropical fruit ice cream. 

girls gazing up at the rainforest canopy in the daintree

Check out our top Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation tours if you're interested in exploring this remote corner of Queensland! Or hire a campervan and road trip up there on your own for the ultimate adventure!

If you have any questions about your visit to Cairns, you can call us at (07) 4082 7470 or live chat with our travel experts online - we're available 24/7. 

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