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, categorised by colours; red arrow, blue arrow, yellow arrow and green arrow.
I’ve hiked up to Mount Whitfield several times during my stops in Cairns. 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?
- Cairns Mount Whitfield Arrow Tracks Map
- Mount Whitfield Summit Loop (Lumley Hill Lookout)
- Mount Whitfield View (Lumley Hill Lookout)
- Return to Cairns on the Blue Arrow Track
- GPX Map and Hiking Data
- Planning a Trip to Cairns
- More Cairns Travel and Hiking Guides
- More Photos from this Cairns Hike
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
Best Cairns Outdoor Experiences
Not sure which tours to choose for your next adventure to Cairns? I have you covered. Whilst living in Cairns I 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.
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.
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.
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 car park.
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 the image for full-quality).
Mount Whitfield Summit Loop (Lumley Hill Lookout)
- Hike Distance: 8.5 km (loop)
- Duration: 2.5-3.5 hours return
- Elevation: 465 m elevation gain to 315 m at Lumley Hill Lookout
- Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
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, 1.5 km 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 car park and Yellow Arrow car park 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 400 m 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 on the Blue Arrow Track
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
4. Pepper's Beach Club Palm Cove
Stay at the best beach resort in the heart of Palm Cove on Cairns's Northern Beaches!
Planning a Trip to Cairns
Still in the planning stages of your trip to Cairns and the Tropical North? Here's a quick list of essential travel resources that I use to plan and book all my travels around the world independently.
Flights: Find & compare flight deals to Cairns International Airport using Skyscanner. Use the "search by month" feature to discover the cheapest day to fly.
Hostels: When it comes to scoring epic deals on hostels and cheap stays your secret weapon is Hostelworld. If you're traveling to Cairns to meet people, use the “See Who's Going” function.
Travel Insurance: HeyMondo is my top recommendation for travel insurance for Cairns and the Wet Tropics. They've got your back with comprehensive coverage, from unexpected flight hiccups to those "oops" moments. Click the link to get 5% OFF your policy.
Internet & Connectivity: Stay connected as soon as you land in Queensland with Airalo's eSIMS. Aussie sims will work. But if you're coming from overseas, I'd download their app and grab an eSIM before you set foot on Australian soil.
Car Rental: Don't overpay for a rental at the airport. Compare rental car prices across all dealerships in Cairns and Port Douglas. Use DiscoverCars to choose the perfect ride for your journey, whether it's a compact car or an SUV for off-road adventures.
Transportation: Public transport is limited to the natural attractions around Cairns and its best to use tour companies or rent a car. However, if you're arriving at the airport, or need a transfer between Cairns and Port Douglas, use the popular Cairns & Port Douglas shuttle.
To learn more about independent travel to anywhere else in the world, read my ultimate step-by-step guide on how to plan a trip.
More Cairns Travel and Hiking Guides
I hope that you've enjoyed this quick guide to Cairns' most accessible 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 awesome Cairns itinerary or this epic guide to Cairns' Best Hiking Trails.
- 60+ Things to do in Cairns - my ultimate Cairns and FNQ travel resource covering the best activities, hidden gems, and unmissable experiences.
- Cairns Tours - my roundup of the best tours you can book in Cairns and FNQ, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Daintree Rainforest.
- Cairns Packing List - tips on what to pack for a trip to Far North Queensland.
- Top Things to Do in Port Douglas - a comprehensive guide to the sleepy Far North Queensland town of Port Douglas.
- Epic 5-Day Cairns Itinerary - my suggested adventure itinerary if you only have 5 days to spend in Cairns.
- Cape Tribulation Travel Guide - discover where the rainforest meets the reef at one of my favourite places in Australia.
- Cairns Hiking Guide - a huge list of epic rainforest, waterfall, and lookout hikes in Cairns.
- Cairns Waterfalls - a huge list of epic waterfalls that I've visited in Cairns and the surrounding tropics.
- Cairns Islands - discover my favorite Great Barrier Reef islands near Cairns and Port Douglas.
- Magnetic Island Travel Guide - your ultimate resource for visiting "Maggie" near Townsville.
- Best Things to do in the Atherton Tablelands - my guide to one of Far North Queensland's most underrated adventure destinations.
- Accommodation Resources: Discover where to stay in Cairns, the best hotels in Port Douglas and my Cape Tribulation accommodation guide.