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Turtle Rock Hike – Cairns Hiking Guide

Turtle Rock Hike – Cairns Hiking Guide

The Turtle Rock Hike (Turtle Head Rock) is a circuit walking track located in the Dinden National Park near Cairns, Queensland. The hike features a spectacular boulder lookout, light rock scrambling and an easy river crossing.

The Turtle Rock Hike in the Dinden National Park is a great morning or afternoon circuit loop for those looking for a quick adventure from Cairns. I walked this circuit for a sunrise trip with my dad as a quick morning microadventure from Cairns and I’d highly recommend it.

In this guide, I’ll detail how to get to the trailhead, what to expect on the track and I’ll also include a few photos that I hope will inspire your trip!


Where is the Turtle Rock Hike

The Turtle Rock Circuit is located in the Dinden National Park, approximately 61 kilometres from Cairns on the Tablelands side of the Lamb Range. The trailhead is accessed from nearby the node 3 and 4 campsites on Davies Creek Road. This road is unsealed but is well-graded. A 4WD is ideal but you'll make it with a regular 2WD sedan or hatchback.

This section of the Dinden National Park shares coverage with the Davies Creek National Park and features eucalypt forest and several freshwater creeks and waterfalls.

  • Google Maps Pin: "Turtle Head Rock"

There are many adventures to be had in this remote area of Tropical Far North Queensland, many that happen to be some of my personal favourites. These include the Kahlpahlim Rock Hike (Lambs Head), Davies Creek Falls and the nearby Emerald Creek Falls.


How to Get To the Trailhead From Cairns

To get to the Turtle Rock circuit trail, you will need to take the Captain Cook Highway north towards Smithfield. Then, take a left on Kennedy Highway, which climbs the MacAlister Range to reach Kuranda. Continue past Kuranda for another 22 kilometres, where you will see a sign for "Davies Creek".

Turn left on Davies Creek Road and follow this unsealed road for 10 kilometres, passing Davies Creek Falls on your left. The trailhead access point is on the right. Keep an eye out for the "camping nodes 3 & 4" signs.

This campsite is a wide clearing just beside the creek and the Turtle Rock Circuit trailhead begins here.

Related: 14 Awesome Things to do in Kuranda, Australia

sunset on a winding road in Tasmania

Car Rentals in Tasmania

Unfortunately, the cost of bringing your own car on the Spirit of Tasmania has skyrocketed in recent years.

Now, it is usually cheaper to rent a car on arrival. I recommend using in Tasmania to compare rates for different vehicles across dealerships.

(Rentals are limited in Tasmania so it's a good idea to book in advance).

The Turtle Rock Circuit

  • Hike Distance: 6.7 kilometres (circuit)
  • Duration: 1.5 hours - 2.5 hours
  • Elevation: Maximum: 910 metres AMSL |
    Total gain: 320 metres
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The Turtle Rock hike is best completed in an anti-clockwise circuit. This way, you'll smash the steepest part of the hike early on, leaving a gentle decline back to the campsite.

The track is worn and easy to follow. There are also orange arrows on the trees that mark the route. So, you shouldn't have any problem finding your way.


Featured in: Awesome Things to do in the Atherton Tablelands

Hiking Directions

Upon arriving at the campsite nodes mention above, walk in the direction of the obvious outdoor toilet cubicle. The Turtle Rock hike begins just 20 metres from here.

The first section of the climb to the Turtle Head Rock begins with a light incline through dry eucalypt forest. After a short stroll, the track steepens and you'll need to do a bit of light boulder scrambling. This section is pretty steep but it doesn't last long. Before you know it, you'll reach Turtle Rock, just 2.2 kilometers from the start point.


When you first approach the rock it's immediately apparent as to where the Turtle Rock hike's name came from. The large boulder resembles a turtle with its head out, basking on the edge of the cliff face.


It's possible to scramble to the top of Turtle Head Rock for epic views over the pristine Dinden National Park. Just be careful as its a sheer drop on the other side.

After taking in the view and resting the legs, follow the orange arrows to the left (looking at Turtle Rock), and enjoy the gentle walk back.


Near the end of the trail, you'll need to cross "Varch Creek", which isn't more than a hop over the narrow section. The trail then back on Davies Creek Road, just a few hundred metres to the right of the campsite. Just continue following the arrows left and you'll soon arrive back at the camp node.

Grayl Water Filter Bottle

#1 Water Bottle Filter

Enter the Grayl GeoPress Water Filter & Purifier Bottle! I take this bottle on every hike and use it as my go-to source for filtering water all over the world. I've even used it to drink tap water in India!

// Compare how the GeoPress stacks up against the best water bottle filters on the market.

Featured in: Cairns Hikes: 38 Best Trails

Turtle Rock GPX File

GPX File: Download

My Strava: Visit

More Photos of the Turtle Rock Hike Cairns

Here are some more photos from the walking track and the boulder viewpoint for sunrise.


Cairns Accommodation Guide – Where to Stay

Visiting Cairns? The best places to stay are near the Cairns Esplanade or on the sunny Northern Beaches. Below are the top 4 options for varying budgets.

  • Crystalbrook Riley - If luxury and location are what you're after, you can't beat the Crystalbrook Riley. This is the best 5-star resort in Cairns and features absolutely everything you'd expect from a Crystalbrook resort.
  • Fitzroy Island Resort - Sleep out on one of the picturesque Great Barrier Reef Islands at Fitzroy Island Resort. Spending the night on the island can work out cheaper than staying in town and means you get more time to explore the reef, coral beaches and rainforest walking trails.
  • Gilligan's Backpackers - The best backpacker option for a great vibe in Cairns. Great place to meet like-minded travelers and has facilities including a pool. air-con, a huge shared kitchen, and a great common area!
  • Pepper's Beach Club - stay at the best beach resort in the heart of Palm Cove on the Cairns Northern Beaches!

For a bigger list, don't miss my Cairns accommodation guide or as an alternative stay in FNQ, read my Port Douglas Accommodation guide too.

Girl sunbathing at Crystalbrook Riley resort in Cairns
Backpacker hostel in Cairns, Australia

More Hikes and Adventures Near Cairns

If you enjoyed this quick guide to the Turtle Rock Hike from Cairns, make sure to check out some more blog posts I've written for more Cairns adventure ideas. If you have any more questions or trail updates, or feedback for the blog, please let me know by leaving a comment.