The Turtle Rock Hike (Turtle Head Rock) is a circuit walking track located in the Dinden National Park near Cairns, Queensland. The hike features 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 microadventure 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!
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 nearby 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.
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. These include the Kahlpahlim Rock Hike (Lambs Head), Davies Creek Falls and the nearby Emerald Creek Falls.
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. Keep an eye out for the “camping nodes 3 & 4” signs.
This campsite is a wide clearing just beside the creek and the Turtle Rock Circuit trailhead begins here.
The Turtle Rock Circuit
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.
Upon arriving at the campsite nodes mention above, walk in the direction of the obvious outdoor toilet cubicle. The Turtle Rock hike begins just 20 metres from here.
The first section of the climb to the 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 you first approach the rock it’s immediately apparent as to where the Turtle Rock hike’s name came from. The large boulder resembles a turtle with its head out, basking on the edge of the cliff face.
It’s possible to scramble to the top of Turtle Head Rock for epic views over the pristine Dinden National Park. Just be careful as its a sheer drop on the other side.
After taking in the view and resting the legs, follow 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.
Turtle Rock GPX File
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More Photos of the Turtle Rock Hike Cairns
Here are some more photos from the walking track and the boulder viewpoint for sunrise.
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, so make sure to check that out too before you book!
Also, if you’re looking to stay in Port Douglas, I’ve got some tips on finding great accommodation deals there too.
LUXURY RESORT WITHOUT THE PRICE TAG – Rydges Resort
This hotel offers the best 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.
BEST 5-STAR LUXURY HOTEL: Pullman Reef Hotel Casino
If luxury and location are 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! If nightlife is your thing, don’t go past this one.
STAY ON THE ISLANDS: 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.
BEST BUDGET HOSTEL WITH A POOL – 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 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. If you have any more questions or trail updates, or feedback for the blog, please let me know by leaving a comment.
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
For a list of all my recommended photography gear (including what I use and why) check out my guide to camera gear for travel.