Hartleys Creek Falls is a cascading waterfall located at the end of a gentle walking track near Wangetti, north of Cairns.
Are you looking for a quick waterfall hike and adventure near the Northern Beaches of Cairns? Hartleys Creek Falls might be precisely what you’re after.
This waterfall is somewhat of a “local secret”, hidden at the back of Wangetti near the well-known Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. Don’t worry though; there aren’t any crocs lurking at Hartleys Creek Falls, so you’re free to swim and cool off at the waterfall after the short but rewarding hike.
Where is the Hartleys Creek Falls Track?
Hartleys Creek Falls is located in Wangetti, just off the Captain Cook Highway, only 15 KM from Palm Cove or 43 KM from Cairns. Hartley’s Creek Falls is accessible by a broad and easy walking track found just off the highway.
How to Get Here
To get to the Hartleys Creek Falls trailhead from Cairns, you’ll simply need to head north on the Captain Cook Highway towards Wangetti. If you’re driving from Cairns, expect at least a 40-minute drive.
The Hartleys Creek Falls trailhead access is located just 500 metres past Hartleys Crocodile Adventures, near the “Hartleys Creek Retreat”. If you’re using google maps, just type in “Hartleys Creek Retreat”, and you’ll arrive just next to the trailhead.
There is a large clearing in front of the retreat where you can park your car. The trailhead access is just to the left of the front gate to the retreat and is signposted.
The Hartleys Creek Falls Track
Once you’ve found the trailhead using the information above, the rest is fairly straightforward. Begin by passing the fenced-off retreat and commence on a gentle climb for approximately 1.5 KM. The track is wide and easy to follow, undulating sporadically through the native scrub. The length of the trail follows the banks of Hartleys Creek all the way to the waterfall without needing to make any turns.
While there are some dips and steep sections, overall, the Hartleys Creek Falls track is very gentle and can be completed by anyone with an average level of fitness.
At roughly the halfway point, you’ll arrive at a clearing with access to a waterhole section of Hartleys Creek. Although it looks like a great camping spot, it’s unfortunately not permitted. However, if you’d like a quick dip, then this spot is perfect and makes for a very scenic rest stop.
After roughly 3.5 KM, you’ll arrive at the rocky banks leading to the waterfall. Turn left here and follow the sign to arrive at Hartleys Creek Falls.
What to Expect at Hartleys Creek Waterfall and Swimming Hole
As soon as you arrive at Hartleys Creek Falls, you can see why it’s such a local-favourite. It’s easily accessible, the hike is enjoyable and rewarding without being too difficult, and the swimming hole is perfect!
The waterfall itself cascades gently down the steep rock face for approximately 16 metres (my estimate) into a vast freshwater basin. The pool underneath the falls makes for the perfect swimming hole on a scalding, tropical summer day. It’s possible to climb up the lower boulder beneath the waterfall and jump into the deep pool below. It’s difficult to tell how deep it is, but I couldn’t reach the bottom after jumping off around the edge of the waterfall.
After passing the crocodile attraction just up the road, it’s difficult to the thought of crocs to the back of your mind. However, rest assured there are no crocs here (at least there hasn’t ever been a sighting).
ALSO NEARBY: Spring Creek Falls
Cairns Accommodation Guide – Where to Stay
Planning a trip to Cairns and wondering where to base yourself? Below I’ve listed some of the best options near Cairns Esplanade. I’ve also written a comprehensive accommodation guide to Cairns, so make sure to check that out too before you book!
Also, if you’re looking to stay in Port Douglas, I’ve got some tips on finding great accommodation deals there too.
LUXURY RESORT WITHOUT THE PRICE TAG – Rydges Resort
This hotel offers the best bang-for-buck. In terms of an epic stay for a decent price! The location is perfect, close to the esplanade and features include three swimming pools, two tennis courts, a jacuzzi, a fitness centre and even an award-winning restaurant.
BEST 5-STAR LUXURY HOTEL: Pullman Reef Hotel Casino
If luxury and location are what you’re after, you can’t beat the Pullman. It’s rated Cairns’ best hotel and features restaurants, a pool, live music gigs and even a casino! If nightlife is your thing, don’t go past this one.
STAY ON THE ISLANDS: Fitzroy Island Resort
If you’d rather sleep out on one of the picturesque Great Barrier Reef Islands, look no further than the Fitzroy Island Resort. While you can get out here on a day trip, I highly recommend spending the night so you get more time to explore the reef, coral beaches and rainforest walking trails.
BEST BUDGET HOSTEL WITH A POOL – Gilligan’s Backpackers
The best backpacker option for a great vibe in Cairns is Gilligan’s Backpackers. That’s because this one has a swimming pool, AC, a complete kitchen and a great common area to meet other travellers.
More Cairns Waterfalls and Hikes
I hope that this quick guide to visiting Hartleys Creek Falls in Cairns has proved useful in planning your waterfall adventures! For more must-do waterfalls and hikes near Cairns, take a pick from my list below. Otherwise, why not start with this guide to the best waterfalls in Cairns and surrounds, best hiking trails or this guide to the best things to do in Cairns.
MY CAMERA AND PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT
- Mirrorless Camera: Canon R5
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- 360 Action Camera: Insta360 One X2
- Landscape Lens: Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L
- All-Round Lens: Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L
- Telephoto Lens: Canon RF 100-500mm f/f/4.5-7.1 L
- Long Action Pole: Insta360 Invisible Pole (BulletTime)
- Landscape Lens Filter: Hoya Circular Polarizer
- Camera Backpack: F-Stop Tilopa
- Favorite Photography Accessory: Peak Design Capture Clip
For a list of all my recommended photography gear (including what I use and why) check out my guide to camera gear for travel.
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