Comprehensive Guide to Mossman Gorge: Best Walks and Swimming holes

Mossman Gorge lies on the southern part of the Daintree Rainforest and is home to spectacular swimming holes and walking trails. It’s just a short drive from Port Douglas and is popular with day trippers looking to explore the historic rainforest.

After spending a few days on the Great Barrier Reef, I rented a van from Cairns and went further north. Mossman Gorge was one of the stops on my itinerary and a highlight of my entire trip.

Here’s everything you need to know before visiting, including the best Mossman Gorge walks and where to find those hidden swimming holes!

Best Mossman Gorge walks
We found this empty swimming hole along the Rainforest Circuit loop

Mossman Gorge Overview

  • Distance from Port Douglas: 20km
  • Costs: $13 per person for return shuttle bus
  • Time needed: 2.5 hours
  • Operating hours: 8am – 6pm
  • Best Mossman Gorge Walk: The Rainforest Circuit (2.4km)
Mossman Gorge River Circuit walk

About Mossman Gorge

The Daintree National Park is a World Heritage site and the oldest rainforest on earth! It’s found in the tropical north of Queensland and is estimated to be over 180 million years old.

With its diverse landscape, dense jungles, and extraordinary wildlife, it’s a fascinating place to explore.

Mossman Gorge is one of the most accessible places to visit in the Daintree Rainforest and a worthy addition to any Cairns itinerary. It forms part of the traditional homeland of the indigenous community, the Kuku Yalanji People, who have lived here for over 50,000 years.

Swimming at Mossman Gorge river

How to get to Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge lies 75 minutes north of Cairns and only 20 minutes north of Port Douglas.

The easiest way to get here is to self-drive and explore more of the Daintree (as we did).

Alternatively, you can opt for a day trip from either Port Douglas or Cairns. These full-day tours include stops at other nearby attractions, so you’ll get to see a lot in one day.

Here are a few great options:

Mossman Gorge Centre

The Mossman Gorge Centre is the gateway to the valley, and Mossman Gorge walks. You’ll need to park your car here as you can’t drive anything further than this.

This cultural center has an array of indigenous arts and crafts for sale, and it’s a great place to learn more about the history of the Daintree Rainforest. There is also a cafe available as well as toilet facilities.

But the Mossman Gorge walking trails don’t start from the visitor’s center. You first need to purchase a shuttle ticket and make your way to the entrance of Mossman Gorge.

things to do in Mossman Gorge
The shorter River Circuit is almost all a boardwalk path

Mossman Gorge Shuttle Bus

This shuttle runs every 15 minutes from 8am to 6pm and costs $13 per person for the return trip.

While it’s only 2km from the cultural center to the entrance, please don’t walk this section. The land is sacred to the Kuku Yalanji people, and they request that all visitors use the shuttle service.

Mossman Gorge shuttle bus
From the Mossman Gorge Centre, you need to take the shuttle bus to the entrance

Mossman Gorge walks

Mossman Gorge attracts tourists in their numbers thanks to the gorgeous swimming holes surrounded by lush greenery and massive granite boulders.

But the walking trails are equally impressive.

There are two Mossman Gorge walks. The Short Circuit and the Long Circuit.

They follow the same direction, and if you do both trails, you will have walked around 3km. They are easy walking paths that are well marked and include stunning sites such as the Mossman River Lookout, Rex Creek Suspension Bridge, and Warrmbu Creek.

I did all Mossman Gorge walking tracks, which took about 2.5 hours, including a swim break.

Mossman Gorge Walk Map

Mossman Gorge Walk Maps
Map of Mossman Gorge walks. The Short Circuit is also called the River Circuit and the Long Circuit is also called the Rainforest Circuit.

The short circuit: River Circuit Track (400m)

After the bus drops you off at Mossman Gorge entrance and picnic area, take the path to your right. Here’s where the 400m River Circuit track starts. It hugs the Mossman River with numerous lookout points.

From there, you will connect with the main walking track, Baral Marrjanga, through the forest.

On your return, follow this main walking track, not the same River Circuit track you have just taken.

day trips from Cairns
The start of the Mossman Gorge walking trail

Mossman Gorge Swimming Holes

Shortly after meeting up with the main track, you’ll notice a short path leading to Mossman River.

This is the most popular place to swim at Mossman Gorge. And while many people chose to take a dip here, we didn’t, as it was far too busy for my liking.

If you’re following the longer Mossman Gorge walk, there will be plenty of other swimming opportunities ahead.

Best Mossman Gorge swimming holes
The main Mossman Gorge swimming hole is always busy

Mossman River Lookout Point

As you continue to the end of the boardwalk, you’ll reach the Mossman River Lookout. This elevated balcony sits alongside Mossman River with gorgeous views.

Many people choose to end their walk here and return the same way they had just come from. But it’s best to go a little deeper into Mossman Gorge.

Mossman River Lookout Point
The Mossman River lookout

Rex Creek Suspension bridge

A short walk from the lookout point is the Rex Creek Bridge. If you’re afraid of heights, this might scare you, but I highly recommend you go for it!

If you’re only doing the short Mossman Gorge walking trail, you can turn around after crossing the suspension bridge. But if you have an extra 60 minutes, it’s best to carry on to the Rainforest Circuit.

Rex Creek Bridge
Crossing Rex Creek Bridge

Rainforest Circuit track: The longer Mossman Gorge walk

At 2.4km, the Rainforest Circuit track is very different from the River Circuit track. It’s much more rugged and raw, and there are no boardwalk tracks.

But the unpaved path is easy to navigate, and you won’t get lost. It’s also the quieter route, and we only saw a handful of people on the Rainforest Circuit track. Of all the walks in the Daintree Rainforest, this is my favorite!

Rainforest Circuit - Long Mossman Gorge walking trail
The path leading to the longer Rainforest Circuit

Swimming along the Rainforest Circuit

The first section of the Rainforest track runs alongside Rex Creek where you’ll find several places to swim.

This is one of the best places to go swimming at Mossman Gorge as it’s less crowded than the main swimming hole near the entrance. We had the whole place to ourselves.

At the halfway point of the Rainforest Circuit track, the path veers inland, and you head back to the start, but this time via the forest.

Mossman Gorge Centre
A refreshing swim along in the Daintree Rainforest

Warrmbu Creek

Warrmbu Creek is a short 120m detour off the main Rainforest Circuit. Here, you’ll find another stunning natural pool.

From Warrmbu Creek, you’ll head back to the start of the Rainforest trail, over the suspension bridge, past Mossman Gorge Lookout, and through the forest to the parking areas where you’ll get a shuttle.

Mossman Gorge walking tracks
Warrmbu Creek in Mossman Gorge

Is Mossman Gorge worth visiting?

Yes, Mossman Gorge is worth visiting. It’s easy to see on a day trip and is home to incredible nature and swimming holes. I highly recommend doing the longer Rainforest Circuit.

How long is the walk at Mossman Gorge?

There are 2 Mossman Gorge walks. The shorter River Circuit is 400m and takes 10 minutes, while the longer Rainforest Circuit is 2.4km and takes about an hour.

Mossman River
Mossman River

Can you swim at Mossman Gorge?

Yes, you can swim at Mossman Gorge, and many people do so. But the water can be unpredictable, and there are no lifeguards. As a result, swimming is not recommended by the Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre.

How much time do you need at Mossman Gorge?

You’ll need a minimum of 1 hour at Mossman Gorge. If you’re doing the longer walk and planning on swimming in the river, 2-3 hours is enough.


Is the Mossman Gorge walk hard?

No, it isn’t! The 2.4km Rainforest Circuit is relatively flat and suitable for people of all ages, including kids.

Are you looking for the best walks in Mossman Gorge? Do you have any questions about your trip? Drop me a message in the comments section below.

Looking for more Australia travel inspiration? Check out my other posts!

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About Carryn

Hi, I'm Carryn. I’m an adventure travel blogger trying to figure out my way through life by traveling and exploring. Join me as I share my travel guides and tips for life abroad. Find out more about me here.

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