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.

CAR PARK NEAR HARTLEYS CREEK
Park here for track access

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The Hartleys Creek Falls Track

Hike Distance: 7.5KM (return)
Duration: Roughly 1 hour each way
Elevation: 290M total gain (undulating)
Difficulty: Easy

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.

SWIMMING HOLE NORTH OF CAIRNS HARTLEYS CREEK

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.

HARTLEYS CREEK FALLS TRACK

RELATED: CRYSTAL CASCADES | SADDLE MOUNTAIN HIKE | WHITE ROCK HIKE


What to Expect at Hartleys Creek Waterfall and Swimming Hole

Waterfall height: 16 metres (estimate)
Pool depth: At least 3 metres in the deep sections

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).

HARTLEYS CREEK FALLS WATERFALL
HARTLEYS CREEK FALLS SWIMMING HOLE

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, as well as a comprehensive Port Douglas Accommodation guide too.

Crystalbrook Riley – If luxury and location are what you’re after, you can’t beat the Crystalrbook Riley. This is the best 5-star resort in Cairns and features absolutely everything you’d expect from a Crystalbrook resort.

Tip: Make sure to head up to Rocco’s Bar at the top of the Crystalbrook Riley for great views over Cairns!

girl sunbathing at Crystalbrook Riley resort in Cairns

Rydges Resort – This hotel offers excellent 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.

RYDGES ESPLANADE RESORT IN CAIRNS, WHERE TO STAY ACCOMMODATION

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.

FITZROY ISLAND RESORT

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.

GILLIGANS BACKPACKER RESORT

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.

Enjoy!

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HARTLEYS CREEK FALLS

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