The Turtle Rock hike (Turtle Head Rock) is a circuit walking track located in the Dinden National Park near Cairns, Queensland featuring a spectacular boulder lookout, light rock scrambling and an easy river crossing.
The Turtle Rock Hike in the Dinden National Park is a great morning or afternoon circuit loop for those looking for a quick adventure from Cairns. I walked this circuit for a sunrise trip with my dad as a quick morning micro adventure from Cairns and I’d highly recommend it.
In this guide, I’ll detail how to get to the trailhead, what to expect on the track and I’ll also include a few photos that I hope will inspire your trip!
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
Where is the Turtle Rock Hike
The Turtle Rock Circuit is located in the Dinden National Park, approximately 61 kilometres from Cairns on the Tablelands side of the Lamb Range.
The trailhead is accessed from near the node 3 and 4 campsites on Davies Creek Road. This road is unsealed but is well-graded.
A 4WD is ideal but you'll make it with a regular 2WD sedan or hatchback.
This section of the Dinden National Park shares coverage with the Davies Creek National Park and features eucalypt forest and several freshwater creeks and waterfalls.
- Google Maps Pin: "Turtle Head Rock"
Tip: There are many adventures to be had in this remote area of Tropical Far North Queensland, many that happen to be some of my personal favourites.
How to Get to the Trailhead From Cairns
To get to the Turtle Rock circuit trail, you will need to take the Captain Cook Highway north towards Smithfield. Then, take a left on Kennedy Highway, which climbs the MacAlister Range to reach Kuranda.
Continue past Kuranda for another 22 kilometres, where you will see a sign for "Davies Creek".
Turn left on Davies Creek Road and follow this unsealed road for 10 kilometres, passing Davies Creek Falls on your left.
The trailhead access point is on the right. It is a little tricky to find, but I recommend keeping an eye out for the "camping nodes 3 & 4" signs and you can't go wrong.
This campsite is a wide clearing just beside the creek and the Turtle Rock Circuit trailhead begins here.
Car Rentals in Far North Queensland
Cairns is one of the most popular travel destinations in Australia and car rentals quickly book out!
I've missed out on cars before & recommend booking well in advance. I always use DiscoverCars as they compare the widest range of rentals across dealerships in the Far North.
The Turtle Rock Circuit Hiking Details
- Hike Distance: 6.7 kilometres (round circuit)
- Duration: 1.5 hours - 2.5 hours
- Elevation: Maximum: 910 metres AMSL |
Total elevation gain: 320 metres
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Track details and GPX: My Strava
The Turtle Rock hike is best completed in an anti-clockwise circuit. This way, you'll smash the steepest part of the hike early on, leaving a gentle decline back to the campsite.
The track is worn and easy to follow. There are also orange arrows on the trees that mark the route. So, you shouldn't have any problem finding your way.
Hiking Directions From My Experience
Upon arriving at the campsite nodes mentioned above, we walked in the direction of the obvious outdoor toilet cubicle.
Just 20 meters down from here is what I would call the start of the Turtle Rock hike.
The first section of the climb to Turtle Head Rock begins with a light incline through dry eucalypt forest.
After a short stroll, the track steepens and you'll need to do a bit of light boulder scrambling. This section is pretty steep but it doesn't last long. Before you know it, you'll reach Turtle Rock, just 2.2 kilometers from the start point.
When we first approach the rock it's immediately apparent as to where it got its name. The large boulder resembles a turtle with its head out, basking on the edge of the cliff face.
I decided to scramble to the top of Turtle Head Rock for epic views over the pristine Dinden National Park. Just be careful as it's a sheer drop on the other side!
After taking in the view and resting the legs, we followed the orange arrows to the left (looking at Turtle Rock), and enjoy the gentle walk back.
Near the end of the trail, you'll need to cross "Varch Creek", which isn't more than a hop over the narrow section.
The trail then back on Davies Creek Road, just a few hundred metres to the right of the campsite. Just continue following the arrows left and you'll soon arrive back at the camp node.
More Photos of the Turtle Rock Hike Cairns
Want more inspiration for your trip to Dinden National Park? Here are some more photos from my trip along the walking track to the boulder viewpoint for a great sunrise with my dad.
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!
More Hikes and Adventures Near Cairns
If you enjoyed this quick guide to the Turtle Rock Hike from Cairns, make sure to check out some more blog posts I've written for more Cairns adventure ideas. A great waterfall hike I recommend close by is Windin Falls.
Alternatively, if you're heading back to Cairns after your hike to Turtle Rock, go check out the Cattana Wetlands (a hidden gem for nature lovers).
If you have any more questions or trail updates or feedback for the blog, please let me know by leaving a comment below!
- 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.