Heading up into Tropical North Queensland is like heading into a whole other world. The flora is different, a lot of the fauna is different. The landscape varies from surf and sun to the dense, shady canopies of ancient rainforest, to dramatic gorges and steep mountains. It. Is. Awesome.

Any hiker knows that the absolute best way to experience any nature is on your own two feet. While you could spend forever exploring the far north, if you’ve only got a long weekend these seven hikes should really make your short list.

1. Mossman Gorge

I can’t tell you how much I loved my Mossman Gorge experience. It’s an easy drive from the hub of Cairns and there are endless pathways through the ancient, World Heritage listed Daintree rainforest to explore. Definitely book onto the Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk to see the rainforest with all new eyes as local Indigenous guides show you not only what the plants are, but how they’ve been used for centuries.

2. Mt Bartle Frere

Mt Bartle Frere is the highest point in Queensland, reaching to 1622m above sea level. Which is already a draw to those of us who get excited by a hiking challenge. But then imagine the sweeping views from the top. You can camp up there for the night if you want, and there’s always the beaut Josephine Falls just waiting for you to cool off in when you get back to base.

3. Curtain Fig National Park

If you’ve never seen a Curtain Fig IRL, prepared to be wowed. Like, genuinely. In a nutshell, these figs take over trees that are already grown and slowly send their vine-like roots to the ground, making a curtain. There’s a particularly fine specimen in the middle of Curtain Fig National Park on the Atherton Tablelands. The Curtain Fig is spreading out over a tree with a huge 39-metre circumference. Plus it’s pretty easy for all levels to get to.

4. Millstream Falls

There’s something undeniably epic about Millstream Falls, and it has a lot to do with the fact it’s the widest single-drop waterfall in the whole country. At any given time there are over 100 individual cascading falls, making for some very dramatic and striking scenery. You can hike the mountain opposite for views from above, or take the walking track down to its base.

5. Cape Tribulation

You haven’t seen a rainforest until you’ve made it as far as Cape Tribulation. As soon as you cross the X river, the whole world changes in a truly awe-inspiring way. There are so many places to go for a walk here, whether it’s along Cape Trib beach itself which legit looks like a forest-meets-ocean scene straight out of Jurassic Park, or along many boardwalks through the dense rainforest. Be sure to look up, the canopies are incredible.

6. Millaa Millaa Falls

This place is straight out of a shampoo ad. The Atherton Tablelands, outside of Cairns, serve up many a beaut view but Millaa Millaa Falls are right up the top of that list. It can easily be reached in a day trip, with time to sit down and enjoy the bird calls of the rainforest as you munch on a picnic.

7. Davies Creek Falls

Natural infinity pool anyone? How about one with panoramic views of the valley below? Then get yourself along to Davies Creek Falls, where the hike to the top of the falls is well worth the effort and will reward you with a killer place to swim. You’ll find the hike int he mountain ranges just outside of Cairns, and there’s camping if you want to take your adventure to the next level.

Image: Instagram / @saltysummits