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Hiking in the Behana Gorge to Clamshell Falls from Cairns

Hiking in the Behana Gorge to Clamshell Falls from Cairns

Discover Clamshell Falls, a tall multi-tier waterfall located at the end of the Behana Gorge Waterfall Track in the Wooroonooran National Park near Innisfail & Cairns.

Are you looking for an easy rainforest hike with plenty of opportunities for a freshwater swim, plus a waterfall at the end near Cairns?

I’ve got you covered with this Clamshell Falls and Behana Gorge waterfall guide.

I’ve visited over 30 waterfalls in Cairns and would rate the Behana Gorge as a great entry-level waterfall hike that’s great for exploring, swimming, and enjoying the tranquillity of the Tropical Far North Queensland’s rainforests.

Olly gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, traveler, travel blogger & photographer for 5+ years with 600+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.

Where is Clamshell Falls?

Clamshell Falls is located in the Behana Gorge, within the Wooroonooran National Park, approximately 35 minutes south of Cairns by car.

The Wooroonooran National Park is quite large, but the gorge picks up on the northern tip near Gordonvale, just off the freeway, making access quick and easy from Cairns.

  • Google Maps Pin: "Behana Gorge Walking Track"
Map of behana gorge walking track near cairns

How to Get to the Behana Gorge Waterfall Walking Track

To get to the Behana Gorge walking track to Clamshell Falls, you're going to need your own car or transport.

The easiest way is to plug in the Google Maps pin above to direct you before you leave since the pin is accurate. However, phone reception is very spotty once you approach the gorge, so best to have it loaded before.

Head south from Cairns on the Bruce Highway and continue for just over 30 kilometres. Shortly after you pass the prominent Walsh's Pyramid opposite Gordonvale, there'll be a sign to turn right on Behana Gorge Road.

Follow Behana Gorge Road for approximately 4.5 kilometres, or all the way to the end of the road. You will know when you're at the Behana Gorge walking track when you notice the large clearing car park with water service fences and a large pipe.

Tip: on the way back to the highway, you'll get some of the best views available of Walsh's Pyramid's south face framed by the cane fields on Behana Gorge Road.

Walsh's pyramid road next to the cane fields from behana gorge road
Walsh's Pyramid from Behana Gorge Road
Car in the rainforest near cairns

Car Rentals in Far North Queensland

Cairns is one of the most popular travel destinations in Australia and car rentals quickly book out!

I've missed out on cars before & recommend booking well in advance. I always use DiscoverCars as they compare the widest range of rentals across dealerships in the Far North.

Behana Gorge Canyoneering

While you can visit Behana Gorge independently, a great way to experience this place is on an epic canyoneering trip!

The Behana Gorge canyoneering tour is one of my favorite canyoning tours in Cairns. It's really affordable compared to some of the other water activities in the region and is run by a professional and sustainable local adventure tour company.

The trip includes:

  • Waterfall and gorge abseiling
  • Walking guide
  • Snacks
  • All equipment

Behana Gorge Waterfall Track: Hiking Guide

  • Hike Distance: 6.6 kilometres
  • Duration: 1.5-2 hours
  • Elevation: 220 m total gain (undulating)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail info & map: Available on My Strava

Once you arrive at the pin above, you will find the Behana Gorge trailhead to Clamshell Falls behind a steel gate beside some fenced-off council water property. The track follows the catchment water pipe for 3.3 km on an entirely sealed track.

While it's technically more of a road than a bushwalking track, the rainforest setting, combined with the scenic views of the rapid gorge waters below, makes it an enjoyable hike.

Behana gorge creek
Steep view down to the Gorge from the top of the hiking trail

For this hike, you really won't have any problem navigating to Clamshell Falls. We just followed the sealed path beside the pipe as it dipped and climbed on an overall rising profile up the length of the Behana Gorge. Eventually, the trail terminates near Clamshell Falls.

Hikin in behana gorge, queensland

On the way, there are great opportunities to swim in gentle forest waterholes along the creek. Although I've only been to Behana Gorge in Cairns' winter (dry season), I'd assume they'd be pretty busy from Cairns and Innisfail locals in the hot summer months.

On the way, you'll also get opportunities to spot local wildlife, including the elusive southern cassowary which lives in the Wooroonooran National Park. We didn't spot one, but we've been told by members of the Cairns Hiking Facebook Group that they spotted one next to the creek!

Behana creek in far north queensland
Flowing creek at the start of the Behana Gorge trail
Grayl water filter bottle

Get Clean Drinking Water on Your Hike

I take the Grayl GeoPress Purifier 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.

What to Expect at Clamshell Falls

When you reach the end of the Behana Gorge walking track, you'll notice a small signpost and a large fence that blocks the path. This signifies the entrance to the Cairns Behana Gorge water catchment facility.

To get to Clamshell Falls, you'll need to walk back a few hundred metres on the track, where you'll find a worn trail leading down to the rocks along the creek.

From here, it was obvious for us as to where to spot the waterfall.

Clamshell Falls is a series of cascading waterfalls that flow down the steep upper reaches of the gorge. Its source is a flowing creek that gathers off the western slopes of Mount Bellenden Ker, Queensland's second-tallest mountain after Mount Bartle Frere.

The main pool underneath the waterfall is very deep and perfect for swimming in on a calm day. While it was quite chilly when we visited, I still decided to take a small dip and can confirm that the pool is easily deep enough for swimming.

Just remember that the water level can change quickly on Behana Creek and at Clamshell Falls. I definitely wouldn't want to be swimming in any part of the Behana Gorge after a heavy downpour!

Clamshell falls, behana gorge, queensland
Clamshell Falls - The Cascading Behana Gorge Waterfall

More hikes nearby: | Kahlpahlim Rock | Nandroya Falls


Swimming at Clamshell Falls

The best swimming spot at Behana Gorge is the wide and deep natural pool just below the main waterfall tier at Clamshell Falls. I couldn't tell you for sure how deep the pool is, but I'd say it's at least 3-4 metres. This makes it perfect for a dip on a hot summer's day, especially after the hike up.

If you continue further downstream on the banks of the creek, you'll also find some crystal clear swimming holes and natural spa pools.

Swimming holes at behana gorge
Swimming holes at behana gorge

Related: Epic White Water Rafting Trip from Cairns


The Behana Gorge Water Catchment

The large water pipe that follows the length of the Behana Gorge walking track all the way to Clamshell Falls stems from the fenced-off catchment area.

The Behana Gorge Water Catchment is part of the Cairns Regional Council and provides fresh water to the entire greater Cairns area.

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.

Alternatively, check out my Port Douglas accommodation guide for more ideas on where to stay in Far North Queensland.

Girl sunbathing at crystalbrook riley resort in cairns

1. Crystalbrook Riley Luxury

If luxury and location are what you're after, you can't beat this 5-star resort right in the heart of Cairns Esplanade.

Fitzroy island wharf

2. Fitzroy Island Resort Mid-Range

Sleep out on one of the picturesque Great Barrier Reef Islands! Staying at Fitzroy often works out cheaper than staying in town & means you get more time to explore the reef, beaches, and rainforest walking trails.

Gilligans backpacker resort

3. Gilligan's Backpackers Budget

The best backpacker option for a great vibe in Cairns. Great place to meet like-minded travelers & features a pool, air-con rooms, a huge shared kitchen, & a great common area.

Peppers beach club four mile beach port douglas

4. Pepper's Beach Club Palm Cove

Stay at the best beach resort in the heart of Palm Cove on Cairns's Northern Beaches!

Behana creek
Great swimming holes beside the track in behana gorge
Clamshell falls near cairns
The iconic Clamshell Falls
Hiking in behana gorge
Hiking on the wall near the water catchment area

More Cairns Waterfalls, Hikes and Adventures

If you enjoyed hiking in the Behana Gorge to Clamshell Falls in one of Queensland's best National Parks; The Wooroonooran, then make sure to check out some of my other travel guides and articles.

Tip: If you're staying in Cairns, go check out the Cattana Wetlands, a true hidden gem for wildlife lovers!

I've spent a long time exploring Far North Queensland and have written hundreds of guides just like this one. If you're looking for some adventure inspiration, take a look below.

Pin for clamshell falls on the behana gorge waterfall track
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure travel blogger & photographer. Traveling non-stop since 2018, I've published over 600 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.

Your feedback & updates are crucial to keep my guides factual & current. Got new info or updates? Drop a comment below or contact me directly.

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ElIzabeth Nichols

Tuesday 28th of September 2021

Hey thanks for such an easy to understand read. Is that hike 6klms return or one way to Clamshell Falls drr me.... cheers Liz

Olly Gaspar

Wednesday 29th of September 2021

Hi Liz, That's 6km return :)