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.
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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.
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.
Once you arrive at the Aeroglen Lookout where the Blue Arrow Track, Red Arrow Track and Yellow Arrow Track connect, follow the left Red Arrow Track to descend through beautiful Chinese 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.
Cairns Accommodation Guide – Where to Stay
BEST BUDGET HOSTEL WITH A POOL FOR $19 A NIGHT – 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.
BUDGET HOSTEL CLOSEST TO THE ESPLANADE FOR $26 A NIGHT –YHA CAIRNS CENTRAL HOSTEL
If you’re looking to stay close to Cairns center, then you can’t beat YHA Central. It’s only a 5-minute walk to the esplanade and situated right near pubs and supermarkets. There’s also a pool and two spas, with a free breakfast included.
SLEEP ON A BOAT IN CAIRNS HARBOUR – BOATEL CAIRNS
If you’re looking for a unique stay in Cairns, then you can’t get much more unusual than staying at a “boatel”. It’s located 1 KM from Cairns and only a 6-minute walk from Cairns Rainforest Dome. The boat has free WiFi, AC, a bar and even a TV in the room.
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.
More Photos from this Cairns Hike
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