How to hike Walsh’s Pyramid from Cairns to tackle one of the most unique mountain trails in Tropical North Queensland.
Just south of Cairns is the world’s tallest freestanding natural pyramid; Walsh’s Pyramid. Hikers who are keen to tackle the summit will be rewarded with some of the best panoramic views of the Cairns and Innisfail Coast.
In this quick hiking guide, I’ll detail how to get to Walshs Pyramid, trail and hiking information, as well as what you might expect based on my experience climbing up the pyramid. You’ll also find some photos of the track and summit that I hope will inspire you to tackle this epic track!
By Olly Gaspar, traveler, travel blogger & photographer for 5+ years with 600+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.
Walsh's Pyramid - A Natural Freestanding Pyramid
Walsh's Pyramid is an independent peak rising above fields of sugar cane in the small town of Gordonvale, approximately 30 minutes (31 kilometres) from Cairns CBD.
At first glance, you'll be excused if you make the mistake of thinking it was a man-made pyramid covered in eucalypt bush! However, the mountain is actually a natural phenomenon and the tallest of its kind in the entire world.
Walsh's Pyramid Elevation
Wondering how high Walsh's Pyramid actually is?
Walsh's Pyramid's elevation stands at 922 metres above sea level. Hikers start pretty close to sea level, so the total elevation gained is close to 900 m from the trailhead all the way up to the summit. This is fairly big for a single day of hiking, but the elevation gain is quite steady.
How to Get to the Walsh's Pyramid Trailhead
The start of the Walsh's Pyramid hiking trail is located approximately 30 km from Cairns via the Bruce Hwy/A1. Expect a 30-minute drive in good conditions. However, in my experience, this can take longer if you're leaving during peak hours (usually 7-9 am or 4-5 pm).
For detailed directions, you'll need to take the Bruce Highway (A1) heading south, turning right once you arrive at Moss Access Road, just a couple of hundred metres after crossing the Mulgrave River over the Desmond Trannore Bridge.
After turning onto Moss Access Road, you'll round the bend and find a small car park on the left, which is where you'll also find the Walshs Pyramid hike trailhead.
- Google Maps Pin: "Walsh's Pyramid Parking and Walking Track"
I've pinned the exact location of the hike car park above to help you out. If you navigate to this pin, it's really impossible to get lost. Don't make the common mistake of following Google Maps directions to the Pyramid itself, as you'll be directed to private property. We made this mistake the first time we hiked Walsh's Pyramid in the early morning and it took about an hour to find the trail.
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 Walsh's Pyramid Hike
- Hike Distance: 6.2 km (return)
- Duration: 3.5-5 hours (return)
- Elevation: Approximately 900 m total elevation gain |
Peak height: 922 m AMSL
- Difficulty: Moderate
The Cairns pyramid walk can be considered a fairly strenuous hiking trail due to the almost 900 metres of elevation gain required to reach the peak. However, the track is easy to follow and well-marked in most sections and requires no scrambling or technically difficult sections.
The total track is 3.1 km to the Walshs Pyramid summit point. Expect to take roughly 2 hours to gain the summit, depending on your speed and fitness level. Of course, this can vary a lot, with the record for climbing the pyramid taking just 1:15:34 which was set in 2007 by Neil Labinsky from the Sunshine Coast.
Following the trail up to the pyramid summit is fairly straightforward since there are markings at every kilometer. However, you will need to keep your eye out for ribbons and triangular markings on the trees which indicate the track to the summit.
The Walsh's Pyramid track is fairly steep due to the naturally steep slope of the pyramid. Although it's not extremely difficult, you'll need to have at least a decent level of fitness to attempt it.
Walsh's Pyramid Hiking Track Details
The trail picks up at the car park pinned on the map above. Almost immediately, the track steepens and begins gaining elevation.
The beginning of the track is fairly dense with vegetation. However, just after the 2 km mark, you'll break out to a small rock clearing with large boulders.
This is a good spot to take a quick rest and enjoy the view. Navigating the sloping boulder field is probably the most difficult section.
My best advice in this section is that if you lose sight of markers, descend back on the track you came up on until you find one again. Generally, after the rocky clearing, you'll want to keep left and avoid walking up the false, worn tracks to the right.
The next section to the peak is fairly straightforward and you shouldn't have any issues. However, it seems as if the track gets a little steeper towards the top so prepare your legs for a burn.
The last few hundred meters of elevation are the steepest of the entire Walshs Pyramid hike. In saying that, it doesn't involve any scrambling, just a constant incline until you reach the rocky outcrop at the summit.
Views From the Walsh's Pyramid Summit
Once you finally reach the summit, you'll have sweeping 360-degree views including the Cairns & Great Barrier Reef islands spanning outside of Innisfail, Cairns and the Trinity Inlet, as well as beautiful mountain backdrop views to the south.
There are several spots to sit and rest and enjoy the views. I found that the best views were just a little further down past the summit where there are some large flat rocks that make a perfect vantage point.
Tips for Hiking Walsh's Pyramid in Cairns
I'd recommend starting Walsh's Pyramid hike early in the morning, even before first light. This is because it can get pretty hot on the track, and you'll get to enjoy some incredible sunrise views even at the halfway mark.
Also, make sure that you keep an eye out for the trail markings. At some sections, it can get a little hard to stay on the trail, especially if there is lingering fog or cloud cover near the summit.
Since this hike will take at least 3.4-4 hours, remember also to bring water as you won't find any on the track.
Best Time to Attempt the Walsh's Pyramid Hike
It's possible to hike Walsh's Pyramid all year round but it'll definitely be warmer in the hot, wet season.
Cairns has a tropical climate with two major seasons; wet and dry. April to November is considered the dry season, where Cairns sees less rainfall and cooler, dryer weather. This is the best time to attempt the hike due to a lower chance of rain and a more comfortable climb.
During the rest of the year, expect more rainfall and hot and humid conditions, averaging around 28-34 degrees. For up-to-date information regarding the weather in Cairns and Walsh's Pyramid walk, I always use Willyweather.
The Yearly Pyramid Race
The Walsh's Pyramid Race is an annual trail running event that begins and ends in Gordonvale. It's a grueling race with plenty of incline. Winners usually average around one and a half hours to get to the top.
More Photos from the Walsh's Pyramid Summit
Looking for some Walsh's Pyramid photos to inspire your hike? Check out some of the shots that I managed to snap of sunrise and the sweeping views from the track and the peak. The featured image at the top of this blog post is of Walsh's Pyramid from Behana Gorge Road.
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 Hikes & Adventure Guides
Did you enjoy the Walsh's Pyramid hike and looking for more epic adventures near Cairns?
Below you'll find a list of more hikes, waterfalls and adventure activities to do in Cairns and the surrounding region.
- 60+ Things to do in Cairns - my ultimate Cairns and FNQ travel resource covering the best activities, hidden gems, and unmissable experiences.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.