The Kahlpahlim Rock Hike, also known as Lamb’s Head, is a hiking trail located near the town of Mareeba, Queensland. This is an enjoyable hike that can be attempted year-round and leads through both dense pine forest and thick, tropical rainforest.
At the summit, hikers can enjoy expansive views of Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands. If you’re in for a solid half-day hike to one of the best views near Cairns, then definitely give this one a go.
The Kahlpahlim Rock hike is located in the Dinden / Davies Creek National Park, near the town of Mareeba, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from Cairns. Although it looks a lot closer to Cairns on the map, you’ll need to drive around the National Parks and towards the Tablelands to get access to the trailhead.
How To Get Here
There are no guided tours or companies that I know of that organise trips to the Kahlpahlim Rock hike. This means that the best way to get here is to drive to the trailhead yourself.
As mentioned, it will take just about 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach the trailhead from Cairns. Begin by heading up the winding Kennedy Highway, past Barron Falls and Kuranda. From Kuranda, continue for another 25 minutes on the same highway until you reach Davies Creek Road on the left.
This road leads to Davies Creek Falls, which is a worthwhile stop to cool off after the hike. Continue past the waterfall and the several designated camping sites (past site 6) until you see a small carpark with a worn signpost indicating the start of the Ridge Track. I’ve pinned the exact location of this carpark on the map below.
You can either leave your car here and start on the Ridge Track as I did, or continue driving for another 5 minutes down Davies Creek Road until you reach the small carpark for Kahlpahlim Rock walking trail.
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Kahlpahlim Rock Walking Trail
Besides the Mt Bartle Frere hike, the Kahlpahlim Rock hike is my favourite trail near Cairns. You’ll get to experience changing terrain as well as one of the greatest views of Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands you can find.
The track is well-marked by orange arrows and ribbon on trees. Since it’s a little out of the way, you’ll also probably have the whole track to yourself.
Circuit Distance: 18 KM return loop. This took just over 4 hours to complete at a moderate pace.
Hike Elevation: 860M elevation gain (1280M AMLS at the ridge summit)
Hike Difficulty: This track is commonly rated as hard. However, if you have a decent level of fitness, you won’t have any trouble completing the hike up to Kahlpahlim Rock. It’s not any harder than the Walsh’s Pyramid Hike.
RELATED: Devils Thumb Hike (Manjal Jimalji)
Kahlpahlim Rock Trail
The Kahlpahlim Rock Trail is a longer, wider shoot for the ridge that begins at the very end of Davies Creek Road. The track starts through tropical flora and climbs steeply on an old pine dotted logging trail, over a rocky outcrop and ends with an ascent through thick, wet tropical rainforest.
Both trails meet up at a plateauing rocky section which had signs of backburning or fire when I completed the hike. From here, it’s a wet, steep ascent to the foot of the huge Kahlpahlim Rock. From here, the trail turns left along the rocky wall, down the wet slopes and finally dog-legs sharply up to the ridge.
Once you gain the ridge, you can choose to walk right to reach the rock or left for the research station.
FULL CAIRNS GUIDE: 22 BEST THINGS TO DO IN CAIRNS UPDATED 2020
The Ridge Trail
The Ridge Trail also begins on a flat gradient, which quickly steepens once you reach a section of thick pine forest. After a steep and rapid ascent, you’ll reach the rocky outcrop where the two trails join up.
It’s said that the Ridge Trail is steeper than the Kahlpahlim Rock trail, which is why some recommend starting with the latter and descent on the Ridge Trail.
However, I found the Ridge Trail to be a comfortable climb. If you’re short on time and want to smash it out, you can also come up and down on the Ridge Trail, since the total distance will be shorter.
ALSO NEARBY: Turtle Rock Hike, Davies Creek National Park
The Kahlpahlim Rock hike is best completed in a circuit loop. Both trails lead to Kahlpahlim Rock, so you can choose which track you want to start with.
I decided to make the ascent on the steeper Ridge Trail and come back down on the wider stretching Kahlpahlim Rock track. Note that the car park locations for these track trailheads are in separate locations down Davies Creek Road, so if you walk the circuit loop, there’ll be a final 20-minute section of road walking.
Kahlpahlim Rock Map
Here’s the official Queensland Parks Kahlpahlim Rock Map that you can download or print. Note both tracks are included and meet up at a rocky section before the final ascent to the ridge.
Kahlpahlim Rock Hike GPX Map
Below is the Kahlpahlim Rock GPX route that I took. You can download this using the link below and use it on your phone or GPS watch to navigate.
Kahlpahlim Rock (Lambs Head) Summit and View
At the top of the Kahlpahlim Rock hike, the best views of Cairns and adjacent rainforest can be found by climbing the rocky clearing to the right as you gain the ridge.
You can also walk left here, following the orange markers to a clearing with a large research station. If you follow the trail markers further into the adjacent bush, you’ll also be lead out to a steep grassy clearing with great views out towards the Atherton Tablelands.
Below you’ll find some shots I took from the ridge and with my drone.
Cairns Accommodation Guide – Where to Stay
BRAND NEW HOTEL WITH A VIEW – OAKS HOTEL
This brand new hotel opened in September 2020 and is already rated as one of the best places to stay in Cairns! The location is right on the esplanade and features balcony rooms with a rooftop restaurant and cocktail bar.
BEST 5-STAR LUXURY HOTEL: PULLMAN REEF HOTEL CASINO
If luxury and location is 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!
BEST BUDGET HOSTEL WITH A POOL – MAD MONKEY BACKPACKERS
The best budget backpacker option in Cairns is Mad Monkey Backpackers. This one has a swimming pool, AC, a complete kitchen and even free bike hire to take you around Cairns. There are also three locations, but we thought that the village was the best. They also organise plenty of things to do in Cairns straight form the hostel.
BEST VALUE HOTEL – RYDGES ESPLANADE RESORT
This hotel offers the best bang-for-buck. In terms of an epic stay for a decent price! Location is perfect, close to the esplanade and the reviews are excellent.
Over to You
I hope you found this Kahlpahlim Rock Hike guide useful. If you have any questions, or if you want to reach out, don’t forget to leave a comment. If you’re up for more Far North Queensland adventures, check out some of the other detailed guides below, or read the Ultimate List of Top 22 Things to do in Cairns.