causeway mountain biking trails on k-tree road misty mountains

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5 Mountain biking trails from Cairns to Cardwell

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TNQ Writer

Discover the lush tropical rainforest by bike with a list of five great trails that you too should head out and ride – stat! From the Mission Beach Mountain Bike Park to Musgravea Trail, these iconic routes are the perfect way to explore the Cassowary Coast.

With its diverse wilderness and abundant national parks, Tropical North Queensland is home to many breathtaking mountain biking tracks. It’s important to always follow the advice from Queensland Parks and never venture into dangerous areas to prevent serious injury or death. Check trail conditions for the Smithfield MTB Park, Atherton Forest MTB Park and for all other trails visit Trailforks.


Much like its bigger cousin, Cairns, the Cassowary Coast is a mountain biking mecca. The region’s mountain biking roots lie in part within its rich history of building access trails, and more recently, the development of other resources like campgrounds, trail sustainability and dual usage. While the mountains may not lift out of the sea like down south in Australia, they sure do stand high.

It’s of little wonder why the wildlife flourishes in these areas. The bush is dense, it’s quiet and remote and within an hour’s drive of Mission Beach, you have enough trails to keep you busy for weeks. Whether it is cycling along the hard-packed sand of Mission Beach before your morning coffee or a more technical ride through the Cardwell Trails network en route to a swimming hole, you’d be hard pressed to find a region that has such diverse mountain bike access, both in terrain and difficulty.

K-Tree Road

Pass over running streams

Many creek crossings along the route

Cycle through the dense rainforest

On the outer edges of the Misty Mountains, sandwiched between the Wooroonooran National Park and the Tully Gorge National Park, these remote trails make for a real adventure. While the trails themselves aren’t too technically challenging, the densely clad bush setting and dramatically varying topography make for physical riding. The shared 4WD trails and gravel roads run from the edge of the highway deep into the hills, linking onto the continued Misty Mountains network. With multiple camping spots and creeks littered throughout the forest, you could ride for days on end if you so please, or pack the family and tents for a fun overnighter.

Mission Beach Mountain Bike Park

Located a short distance from Mission Beach township at South Mission Beach

Late afternoons and early mornings throw golden light through the grass

3.5km skills park loop

A short 10-minute drive down to South Mission Beach or a gentle half an hour ride down the hard-packed sand will land you at the Mission Beach Bike Park. Discreetly positioned within the humble, rolling hills surrounding Mission Beach lies a stand out facility with so much potential, and one of the best trails in the region. The 3.5km loop winds its way through tall grass and pockets of bush, guided by the sound of the ever-present wildlife and past the skills park sitting atop the gentle hill.

The trails are best enjoyed at either end of a day. Sunrise or sunset will ensure you ride when it’s a bit cooler and while golden light catches the tips of the long grass.

Cardwell Forest Drive

Cardwell Forest Drive

Cardwell Spa Pool

Attie Creek Falls

Within the Cardwell Forest Drive, you have a wide variety of walking and access trails that link the many waterfalls, swimming holes and lookouts across the park. Just on the outskirts of the Cardwell township, climb up and pass through the various lookout trails overlooking prominent Hinchinbrook Island, navigating rocky, technical trails before descending down the road and into Powerline trails which meander towards the watering holes. For those wanting a more challenging or technical mountain bike ride, descending down the rugged steps of the lookout trails or linking all of the off skirts of the Powerline Trail together would be the best way to go.

Musgravea Trail

Licuala palms

Private swimming hole along the trail

Surrounded by rainforest it's the perfect place to spot cassowaries

If you’re looking for a trail for the family, a recreational ride under the rainforest canopy rather than atop the sand, or simply hunting for swimming holes, the Musgravea trail is a must ride. Situated along the backside of Mission Beach, the trail links the north and south ends of the township via a wide 4WD like track rolling gently through undulations on the outer edges of the dense Djiru National Park. The trail is straight forward and is suitable for all ages, with the real excitement laying in the beauty of the bush and its inhabiting wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for the endangered Southern Cassowary as they are known to share the trail.

Mission Beach

A tropical start to the day

Sunrise ride along Mission Beach

Fuel up with a coffee at Joey's Mission Beach

There are few places where you can ride along a golden stretch of sand at any time of the day, let alone beneath tall palms, all while avoiding sinking into the inviting, soft sand. The drag strip, or rather Mission Beach itself runs from the northern most point, all the way down past Wongaling Beach and to the south of South Mission Beach. A beautiful 20km long hard packed surface that anyone can ride. During your stay, enjoy riding along the beach at sunrise en route to one of Mission Beach’s coffee shop hideaways, but the sealed path running parallel to the coastal landscape provides a commute with unsurpassed views for those looking to reach the bike park or either end of the Musgravea Trail.

Pedal power

Explore the mountain biking mecca of Tropical North Queensland – the Cassowary Coast