What you need to know when hiking Mt Bartle Frere – QLD’s highest Mountain

Day hike packing list:

  • minimum 3.5L of water per person
  • energy snacks
  • pack lunch
  • phone
  • first aid kit
  • camera
  • waterproof jacket


Location: Wooroonooran National Park. Begin the hike from Josephine Falls Carpark

Date achieved: 12 October 2018

Track Conditions: Dry

Weather: 21-30 degrees and sunny

Distance: 10.4km ascent – 20.8km return.

Time: 5 hours ascent 4.5 hours decent total of 9.5 hours.

State 8: 5/8

Track notes for hiking Mt Bartle Frere by Spirit Quest Travel
The views are worth the climb.

You know a hike is testing when the descent takes nearly as much time as the ascent. This is certainly challenging but attainable as a long day hike.

To escape the heat, we would recommend an early start in the dry season. We began walking with torches at 5am and managed to get 2.5km done and dusted before sunrise. This also enabled us to have a few hours of cooler weather.

The path consists heavily of tree roots which require attentive footing which is particularly testing on the descent. We recommend sturdy hiking boots for ankle protection.

The track is predominantly covered by the rainforest canopy but exposed from the 9km mark where the boulder fields begin. Ensure you have a hat and sunscreen for this section.

The hike is longer than stated. We measured the distance to be 20.8km with Strava on Apple Watches and iPhones.

The track requires a lot of real climbing where your hands are needed. Due to this, we would not recommend hiking poles.

Track notes:

The path undulates for 3km before reaching the first campground. You will cross over 9 rivers before reaching this point.

Explore Wooroonooran National Park | Mt Bartle Frere hike with Spirit Quest Travel.

There’s ample beauty to admire in Wooroonooran National Park.

This campground river crossing is the last water access point. Ensure you refill any bottles as required. From here you begin your steep continual incline towards the summit for approximately 7km.

The first section of boulders began around 9.5km before reaching the hut and helipad. You can stay in the shelter if required, but there is also a small section on the lookout where you could camp.

The boulder field begins from here. Do not attempt this in wet weather or slippery conditions and always assess the climate and consider your safety before continuing.

This section is not for the faint-hearted. There are deep crevasses, and you will be required to maneuver yourself around large boulders. Take your time here and follow the orange markers on the rocks. Note: the rails provided are made of chains and will move.

The top of this boulder section is a false summit which is disheartening. The path continues to climb through dense grass before ducking back into the forest. The last few metres climb up the summit face using trees and roots as handles.

The summit is shaded which is a great spot for lunch. It has a rock to the east for viewing and the accomplishment sign to the west.

To descend return via the path, you came up. Assess your daylight hours and make plans to camp or continue accordingly. The steep descent and tree roots make the descent particularly challenging and requires attention and patience.

Have you had any discrepancies with the distance? Share your Bartle Frere hiking experiences with us.


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