A guide to hiking the Red Arrow Track and Blue Arrow Track loop to the top of Mount Whitfield (Lumley Hill Lookout), just a short hop from Cairns.
The Cairns Arrow Tracks are the most popular walking tracks near Cairns due to their easy access and close proximity to Cairns CBD. Departing from the Cairns Botanical Gardens, walkers have a selection of several walking tracks in the Mount Whitfield Conservation Park, categorized by colours; red arrow, blue arrow, yellow arrow and green arrow.
In this short guide, I’ll hope to answer all your questions and help you plan your day hike to the top of Mount Whitfield (Lumley Hill Lookout), combining the Red Arrow Track and Blue Arrow Track in a large loop.
Where are the Arrow Tracks in Cairns?
All of the Arrow Tracks are located within the Mount Whitfield Conservation Area and are accessed from the Cairns Botanical Gardens carpark.
To get here, expect a short, 10-minute drive from Cairns CBD, or alternatively, a 4-kilometre walk along the Cairns Esplanade to the Botanical Gardens. There are plenty of car spaces along Collins Ave.
The Red Arrow Track Cairns is best accessed from the trailhead just beside the Tanks Art Centre on the map above.
Cairns Mount Whitfield/Arrow Tracks Map
Below is the map for Mount Whitfield Conservation Park, outlining all of the arrow tracks beside Cairns. The map and all information provided is from the Cairns Regional Council Website.
(Click image for full-quality).
Mount Whitfield Summit Loop (Lumley Hill Lookout)
In my opinion, the best walking track accessible on foot from Cairns CBD is the Mount Whitfield Summit Loop to Lumley Hill Lookout following these Cairns Arrow Tracks.
For this blog post, I’ve outlined the route I took; The Red Arrow and Blue Arrow tracks in a loop. However, there are alternative start/finish points listed below.
Red Arrow Track
The Red Arrow Track is perhaps the most popular walking loop in the Mount Whitfield Conservation Area. It is one of the shortest loops, picking up beside the Tanks Art Centre (map above) and finishing at the nearby Botanical Gardens Visitor Centre.
The short, 1.5KM loop makes up the first section on the way up to the connecting Blue Arrow Track. However, it is more commonly completed as a short walk on its own.
This section has steep sections of very well-maintained and easy-to-follow concrete steps as it climbs to the ridgeline above the Botanical Gardens.
Approximately 20 minutes in, you’ll reach the connecting points for the other tracks just beside the Aeroglen viewpoint which looks out over the Cairns Airport.
Alternative 1: Yellow Arrow Track
One alternative to accessing the Blue Arrow Track loop is to take the Yellow Arrow Track from a small access road just off Aeroglen Drive (pinned on Google Maps).
This track is a little steeper and involves several switchbacks as it climbs to the lookout point just beside the trailhead for the Blue Arrow track.
However, note that starting the Mount Whitfield summit loop from the Yellow Arrow Track means that you’ll also need to finish the walk by descending on that same track since the Red Arrow carpark and Yellow Arrow carpark are far apart. I recommend starting on the Red Arrow Track in order to complete the entire track as a loop with no repeated sections.
Alternative 2: Green Arrow Track
The second alternative is to start the hike at the Green Arrow Track trailhead, accessed from Brinsmead (also pinned on Google Maps). This track is less-maintained, but still easy to navigate. It is also much longer and if you wish to return to the Green Arrow starting point, you’ll have to repeat this section after the Blue Arrow Track Loop.
Blue Arrow Track
Now for the fun part. The Blue Arrow Track trailhead picks up just near the Aeroglen lookout point. You’ll notice that the trail maintenance and construction lessens immediately, forming a more natural and enjoyable track.
There are two routes that you can take to the top of Mount Whitfield along the Blue Arrow Track, which both meet up again at the Aeroglen Lookout just beside the Yellow Arrow Track finishing point.
It’s totally up to you which track you’d like to take first, as you’ll walk both when forming the loop. Both tracks are similar, although, I’d say that the right track is slightly steeper.
Following the Blue Arrow Track, keep an eye out for “Blue Arrows” and ribbons in the tree that mark the way. This is a popular track, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding your way at all.
There is also a trail sign approximately 400M from the Mount Whitfield summit (Lumley Hill) where the Blue Arrow Track connects to form the loop.
Mount Whitfield View (Lumley Hill Lookout)
The view from Mount Whitfield follows the Barron River and stretches far out to the Coral Sea, with Green Island visible on most clear days. Also, you’ll be able to see Cairns Airport and the distant rainforest ridgelines of the Barron Gorge National Park.
Unfortunately, the view is largely spoilt by a large communications building and powerlines staggered down towards the sea.
As an alternative for those chasing better Cairns hiking views, try Kahlpahlim Rock (Lamb’s Head), Glacier Rock, White Rock Lookout, Mount Yarrabah or if you’re up for a bigger challenge, even Bartle Frere or Devils Thumb.
However, don’t be discouraged, this loop alone is still a very scenic track enjoyed just a stone-throw away from Cairns CBD and Esplanade. Just, don’t expect much in terms of a view at the top.
Return to Cairns
After a rest, continue back down the Blue Arrow Track to the trail sign where the loop connects. From here, take either the left or right track, depending on which one you ascended on.
Soon, you’ll arrive at the Aeroglen Lookout where the Blue Arrow Track, Red Arrow Track and Yellow Arrow Track connect. Follow the left track to descend through beautiful bamboo forests back to the Botanical Gardens.
GPX Map and Hiking Data
Here’s a GPX map as recorded from my Garmin GPS watch. This might be useful for planning your route or finding out what you’d expect on this hike. I wouldn’t bother using it as a means of navigation since all of the arrow tracks are very easy to follow.
GPX File: Download
My Strava: Visit
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 Crystalbrook 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!
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.
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.
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 Travel and Hiking Guides
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this quick guide to Cairns’ most accesible walking tracks; the Red Arrow and Blue Arrow Loop to the top of Mount Whitfield.
But, don’t let it end there. For more travel guides and hiking resources in Cairns, make sure to select from the list below. A great starting point is this Cairns mega-post to the Top Best Things to do in Cairns, Australia or this epic guide to Cairns’ Best Hiking Trails.
More Photos from this Cairns Hike
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
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