Emerald Creek Falls has some of the most spectacular swimming holes around Cairns, with multiple places you can swim in deep pools. You can explore this waterfall and the nearby Davies Creek Falls over half a day from Cairns, or if you’re doing a longer day-trip to the Chillagoe Caves, stop by here on the way back for a refreshing swim. There are a few different areas you can explore around Emerald Creek Falls.
Emerald Creek swimming holes
The quickest and easiest access to the water is by taking the first track down to the creek, which brings you to some of the waterholes below the waterfall. You can walk upstream or downstream to find your own private waterhole.
Bottom of Falls (1.6km return)
The junction with the track to “Bottom of Falls” is reached after about 600m. While the track is fairly obvious, it’s also marked by arrows as it traverses some small gullies and rocks, with the trees changing from eucalypts to water gums. It’s signposted as a Grade 4 track with “bushwalking experience recommended”, but it’s not a difficult track. Just be very careful whenever you’re crossing the rocks, which be quite slippery (even when they are dry).
The track soon reaches Emerald Creek, passing between two large boulders and crossing Emerald Creek twice before reaching a large, open slab of granite rock.
Walk up the smooth rock to reach the Lower Emerald Creek Falls, which is the busiest spot in the area. The lower waterfall cascades into a deep pool, and while the waterfall isn’t very tall it still makes a very picturesque sight. Although it can get busy here, there’s lot of space and shaded areas around the natural pool.
There’s many more waterholes, as the Emerald Creek flows down over the wide, granite boulders.
Walk down the rocks (carefully!) and choose from many deep water holes for your own, private plunge pool.
Emerald Creek Falls Lookout (1.8km return)
Continue beyond the Bottom of Falls junction for a view of the Upper Falls. The track continues to ascend through eucalypt forest to a fenced lookout platform.
From the lookout, there’s a view over the lower falls, and the wide rock platform next to the Bottom of Falls swimming hole. You can also look back along the valley and across the Atherton Tableland.
Continue a little further, and you’ll reach the base of the Upper Falls, where the water cascades over the steep granite rocks. The Upper Falls (or main waterfall) is about 30m in height.
Although it’s not as spectacular as some other waterfalls, where the water drops vertically, it’s still an impressive cascade.
Total distance if you’re visiting the Lower and Upper Falls is about 2.4km, so allow about an hour. But you can you can easily spend half a day swimming here and finding your own private swimming hole.
Getting to Emerald Creek Falls
Emerald Creek Falls is in the Dinden West Forest Reserve, near the town of Mareeba and just over an hour (70km) from Cairns. Turn off the Kennedy Highway (National Highway 1) onto Tinaroo Creek Road, then turn onto Cobra Road, which becomes Emerald Falls Road. The last six kilometres is unsealed with some steep sections, and is not suitable for trailers or caravans.
At the end of Emerald Falls Road, a wide walking trail takes you to Lower and Upper Falls.
More information on Emerald Creek Falls
- QLD Parks – Davies Creek National Park, Dinden National Park, Dinden West Forest Reserve and Bare Hill Conservation Park
- QLD Parks – Emerald Falls map [PDF]
Visit Waterfalls and Swimming Holes around Cairns and Far North Queensland for more spectacular falls and picturesque swimming holes.