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Hiking the Castle Hill Track in Townsville

Hiking the Castle Hill Track in Townsville

Castle Hill in Townsville, North Queensland, offers a unique adventure with stunning 360-degree views of the city, Magnetic Island, Great Palm Islands, Cape Cleveland and beyond.

This rewarding hike one of the best things to do for travellers visiting Townsville looking for a bit of adventure before heading to Magnetic Island. This quick guide will help you plan a memorable hike up this 286-meter granite monolith and throw in some photos from my hike.

Olly gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler & adventure photographer for 6 years with 700+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.

Castle Hill Hike Overview

  • Getting There: There are multiple routes but the Goat Track is the preferred route for hikers, marked by pink markers and stretching approximately 860 meters one way from Hillside Cres to the Castle Hill car park.
  • Alternative Routes: Other trails include Cudtheringa (Green, 760 m), Erythrina (Yellow, 500 m), Triandra (Purple, 850 m), Iron Bark (Dark blue, 775 m), Dianella (Light blue, 1.2 km), and Maiden Hair (Red, 1.2 km).
  • The Hike: Expect a steep, but manageable, hike with built-in steps and clear markings, taking around an hour from the city to the summit.
  • Wildlife: Keep an eye out for snakes and wild dogs, especially in hot, grassy areas near the start of the walk.
  • Viewpoints: When you reach the summit, you'll find multiple viewpoints offering great views of Townsville, Magnetic Island, the Palm Islands, and Halifax Bay. The main viewpoint is to the right of the car park, while the Summit Circuit offers additional perspectives.
  • The Return: Finish your hike by retracing your steps down the Goat Track. Or, opt for an alternate route from the Castle Hill outcrop base back to the car park.
Hikers standing at castle hill townsville lookout with views over magnetic island
Views of Townsville & Magnetic Island from the top of Castle Hill

How to Get to the Castle Hill Trailhead in Townsville

The hike to Castle Hill lookout begins not far from the city itself. While you can drive nearly all the way up, the best way to reach the viewpoint is by taking the windy goat track (pink markers, roughly 860 meters one-way).

There are also several other routes, marked on the map from the Townsville government site below. These include:

  • Cudtheringa Track: Green, 760 m total distance
  • Erythrina Track: Yellow, 500 m total distance
  • Triandra Track: Purple, 850 m total distance
  • Iron Bark Track, Dark blue, 775 m total distance
  • Dianella Track, Light blue, 1.2 km total distance
  • Maiden Hair Track, Red, 1.2 km total distance
Castle hill walking tracks map
Map of the walking trails up to Castle Hill from various trailheads

Hiking the Goat Track Up to Castle Hill

While there are a few marked tours, there are two main hiking trails that lead to the top of the granite rock formation.

The best track is known as the Goat Track. It won't take you more than an hour to reach the Castle Hill summit from metro Townsville. This is the track that I took and I highly recommend taking this option for better views and a more scenic route to the top.

Townsville hill lookout hike

Hiking Directions

The total walking distance is 860 m from the start (Hillside Cres) to the Castle Hill car park at the top.

You can then follow the signs for roughly 5 minutes through some pedestrian streets before gaining entry to the Goat Track Trail.

It's a fairly steep climb to the top of the Castle Hill Lookout. However, the trail is clearly marked and is serviced to cater to hikers with clear tracks and even built-in steps for the steeper parts.

The Goat Track ends, and you'll have to continue the last part of the hike on a steep road for about 5 minutes before reaching the top.

Castle hill lookout hike townsville

Tip: Beware of Snakes

The hot, exposed sun and long grass that surrounds the Castle Hill track is prime territory for snakes. During our hike, we saw a small Brown Snake, which could easily send hikers to the emergency room quite quickly.

While we didn't see any, there are also signs indicating wild dog populations on the tracks. So, best to keep an eye out.

View of townsville and magnetic island, north queensland

Castle Hill Viewpoints over Townsville

If you're looking for a lookout that you can have all to yourself, then you're out of luck.

You'll most likely see several people hiking to the top of Castle Hill Townsville, as it's one of the most popular things to do in the city.

However, once you reach the Castle Hill car park, you'll have a few choices for different viewpoints.

Castle hill townsville hike viewpoint
Castle hill lookout hike townsville

Townsville and Magnetic Island View from Castle Hill

The best view is immediately on your right when you reach the car park. You can take the trails and steel steps that lead to some rocky outcrops.

All of the viewpoints on this side offer surprising views of the city and Magnetic Island.

Castle hill townsville lookout

The Summit Circuit: Views of Palm Islands, Townsville Suburbs and Halifax Bay

The Summit Circuit will be directly in front of you when you reach the top of Castle Hill car park.

The summit itself is used as a communications tower, however, you can walk around to get some better views of the distant mountains and far out to Halifax Bay.

Halifax bay view from castle hill townsville

The Return Trip Back to Townsville

Wrap the Castle Hill hike up by heading back down the Goat Track, or take the alternate track down from the base of the Castle Hill outcrop.

Castle hill lookout hike townsville

More Queensland Travel Blogs

I hope you enjoyed this quick guide to hiking Townsville's famous Castle Hill Track. Before you shoot off, make sure to check out some of my other guides below for more inspiration for your travels in North Queensland.

Hiking castle hill townsville australia
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure travel journalist & photographer. Traveling non-stop since 2018, I've published over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. These draw on my personal experience to share unique itineraries, accommodation tips, & fun adventure guides covering hikes, viewpoints, beaches, waterfalls, & tours. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.

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