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Glacier Rock Lookout Hike Near Stoney Creek, Cairns

Glacier Rock Lookout Hike Near Stoney Creek, Cairns

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

The Glacier Rock hike is a short out-and-back trail offering magnificent coastal views from Cairns to the Northern Beaches.

It seems that wherever you stand in Cairns, the stark, bare face of Glacier Rock stands exposed against the iconic rainforest backdrop. But did you know you can hike up here? The gentle climb up to the 450 m Glacier Rock lookout is a great bet for catching excellent sunrise or sunset views near Kuranda.

If you’re up for a short, yet rewarding hike near Cairns or Kuranda, then the Glacier Rock hike is an excellent choice. We decided to hit the trail approximately an hour before sunrise in hopes of catching the sunrise from the top.

Directions to Glacier Rock From Cairns

The Glacier Rock hike is located in the Barron Gorge National Park, with most access points starting near the Stoney Creek walking track.

The short, 260 m Glacier Rock track branches from a fork on the Douglas Track. This means that those wanting to just hike to the Glacier Rock lookout will have a couple of options.

Glacier rock lookout cairns

Option 1: Start at Stoney Creek Car Park

Based on the online trail maps of the Barron Gorge, the best place to start is from the Stoney Creek car park. From here, take the Stoney Creek/Douglas trailhead, keeping right and following signs for Douglas Track.

This option adds approximately 750 M each way as the track connects close to the start of the Douglas Track road trailhead (option 2 below).

Option 2: Starting From Douglas Track Road

The second option for where to start the Glacier Rock hike is at a cul de sac at the end of Douglas Track Road. This road is the last right, just before the Stoney Creek car park.

There are a few spots to leave your car, and the trailhead is an unmarked entry track into the bush just to the left of a closed-off private driveway.

I've pinned the location for the Glacier Rock start point on the map below to help you find it.

Glacier rock lookout track trailhead in karavonica

Glacier Rock Hike Distance

So, how far is Glacier Rock Cairns? The Glacier Rock walking track is approximately 5.9 km long, accounting for an out-and-back from the Douglas Track Road trailhead.

Again, if you're departing from the Stone Creek car park, add an extra 1.5 km for the return trip.

Glacier Rock Map

Below is a trail hiking map for the Stoney Creek area. You'll see this map covers the Glacier Rock Track starting near Stoney Creek, as well as other trails to Barron Falls, and even the Skyrail.

Barron gorge national park map
Source: QLD Parks

Glacier Rock Walking Track Details

  • Hike Distance: 5.9 km return
  • Duration: 2-2.5 hours
  • Elevation: 395 m elevation gain to 450 m AMSL
  • Difficulty: Easy

Although much of this track is an upward climb, the elevation gain of 395 m is spread, meaning that it's more of a gentle ascent and not too steep.

Glacier Rock, as well as the other walking tracks and trails in the Barron Gorge National Park, make up what was once an essential network of Djabugay tracks. These tracks are significant to the indigenous community as they were useful tracks for connecting the coast to the Tablelands.

My Experience on the Glacier Rock Hike

First Section From Stoney Creek

Starting from the Douglas Track road trailhead, you will enter a thick, bushy section with tall grass on either side of the track just before reaching a makeshift plank bridge over a small gulley.

Soon after, the track leads to a fork with a signpost, whereby you'll need to take the right path (Douglas Track). This is the point where the track joins to the Stoney Creek car park track.

Soon after the fork, the track begins to climb, with several switchback turns as you make your way up to the ridge.

Douglas Track Rail Crossing

At roughly the halfway mark, you will come to an overhead bridge that allows you to cross the railway track. Following this bridge, there is a steep ascent up the metal staircase beyond the bridge.

Douglas track railway crossing bridge

Related: Red Arrow, Blue Arrow Tracks Cairns

Breaking Out of the Bush

After another short switchback climb, the track opens up to an exposed, grassy section offering increasingly better views before reaching a flat section that serves as a powerline service track.

Continue on this wide path to a point where the McDonald track joins the Douglas Track. To your left will be a signpost indicating the final stretch to the Glacier Rock lookout point.

Glacier rock lookout hike near cairns
Glacier rock sunrise hike, barron falls national park

GPX Route

Below I've included a GPX file of the route that I took up to the Glacier Rock Lookout from the end of Douglas Track Road, recorded using my GPS watch. You can download it and follow it if you want. But, honestly, this track is fairly easy to follow and it's very hard to get lost on the way.

GPX File: Download

My Strava: Visit

Related: Kahlpahlim Rock Hike (Lambs Head)

Glacier Rock Lookout

Just 260 m from the fork and you will have reached Glacier Rock, marked by a signpost beside the cliffside lookout point.

From the Glacier Rock lookout, there are spanning views of the Cairns coast, including the Northern Beaches, Cairns city, the Barron River, Earl Hill, the Mount Whitfield Conservation Park, and the distant mountains of the Lamb Range.

Glacier rock sunrise viewpoint cairns
Glacier rock cairns hiking guide

Cool Off at Stoney Creek

After taking in the sunrise view from the Glacier Rock lookout, it's time to return back to the car park on the same route that you came in on.

If you're looking to cool down then Stoney Creek, a refreshing swimming hole, makes the perfect spot. This is located just around the corner at Stoney Creek Carpark.

Stoney creek falls cairns

Best Cairns Outdoor Experiences

Not sure which outdoor experiences & natural attractions to visit for your next adventure to Cairns?

I've visited Cairns a dozen times, have been on over 20 different tours and worked with countless tour operators. This is a summary of my favourite tours & bookable experiences in Cairns.

Fitzroy island ferry

1. Fitzroy Island Full Day Trip

Fitzroy Island is the closest (and cheapest) Great Barrier Reef Island to visit from Cairns. Check out the world-famous famous Nudey Beach and hike to the island summit.

Scuba diving on the great barrier reef tour cairns

2. Great Barrier Reef by Catamaran Top-Pick

Visit the outer reef and snorkel or scuba dive at two pristine reef locations. You might even get lucky and meet the local Maori Wrasse like we did in the photo.

Cairns helicopter tour over the great barrier reef

3. Scenic Helicopter Flight

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Great Barrier Reef from above on a scenic helicopter flight from Cairns city.

Travel tip: By far, the best islands for snorkeling in Cairns are the Frankland Islands (pristine reef). There is only one boat trip allowed to stop on these islands and you can book this directly with BackpackerDeals + use code OLLY5 to get $5 off.

Related: Devils Thumb Hike in Mossman

Where to Stay In Cairns

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!

More Photos From the Glacier Rock Hike

Here are some more photos of the hike to Glacier Rock Cairns to inspire your trip.

Railway crossing on the douglas track to glacier rock
Cairns mountainscapes from glacier rock cairns

More Things to Do in Cairns

I hope that this quick guide to hiking to the Glacier Rock lookout has been useful in planning out your Cairns activities.

For more ideas on hikes, islands, waterfalls and other Cairns attractions, make sure to check out some of the links below.

Glacier rock
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.


Thursday 23rd of September 2021

Great information, thanks for taking the time to share.