Magnetic Island Hiking & Walking Tracks
Explore hidden gems and secluded beaches
There are many walking and hiking tracks to enjoy around Magnetic Island, and each bay has adventures to discover. The Forts Junction is the hub of Magnetic Island National Park providing access to the National Park, information about the Island, and how to get around.
Here are the main walks that you can explore (see the map below). We've added some additional adventures for your enjoyment.
1. THE FORTS WALK
Depart: THE FORTS JUNCTION
2km (Allow 2 hours return)
The Forts Walk is the island’s most popular walking experience, showcasing many highlights of Magnetic Island National Park—koalas, stunning views and World War II relics all set in the island’s dry tropical landscape.
Starting at the Forts Junction, the track winds its way along the ridge with good views above Arthur and Florence Bays. Keep an eye out in the canopy for koalas, and on the ground for stick and stone arrows pointing to where koalas might be - but please keep your distance from koalas to not disturb them.
On the way up, there are two World War II gun emplacements, one either side of the track. Some of the “rocks” are actually false, being the remains of the camouflaging over the emplacements. Only the tell-tale wire netting give them away.
At the top there are two buildings. One is the Observation Tower where there is an uninterrupted view up and down the coast.
You’ll experience a 360 degree panoramic view from the the Command Post, which is still in use for navigation lights.
Below is Horseshoe Bay Lagoon, and the large flat area which was once pineapple farms. Looking across Horseshoe Bay the large island is Palm Island, one of the many, including Orpheus Island, in the Palm Island Group.
3. THE FORTS JUNCTION TO HORSESHOE BAY
Depart: THE FORTS JUNCTION
2.3km (50 minutes)
You can walk this track (not on the main road) to Horseshoe Bay foreshore from The Forts Junction carpark. Cross the road from The carpark to the bus stop. Nearby you'll see a walking track entrance. If you continue along the track, it meets the road at the bottom of the descent into Horseshoe Bay.
4b. ARCADIA TO HORSESHOE BAY
Depart: EITHER ARCADIA OR HSB
6.3km (2 hours)
Beginning at the end of Endeavour Road in Arcadia, this track is also the start of the track to Nelly Bay. About 2 kilometres along the track there is a turnoff to the right that links with the start of the Forts Junction at the main road.
If you continue along the track to the left (by not crossing over the road) the track again meets the road at the bottom of the descent into Horseshoe Bay.
6. NELLY BAY TO PICNIC BAY
Depart: NELLY BAY or PICNIC BAY
3.5km (30 minutes)
From the ferry terminal, turn left at the roundabout and walk through the heart of Nelly Bay, then along the foreshore, past the old helipad, then up a steep hill with magnificent views of Cleveland Bay, Rocky Bay, Picnic Bay and beyond at Good Ju Ju's Lookout.
As you keep walking west, you'll reach the crest of the hill into Picnic Bay, where the road turns to the right, and the walking track is slightly left.
Follow the track and turn left on Picnic Street to connect to the Hawkings Point walking track, or turn right and continue into Picnic Bay.
2. HORSESHOE BAY TO THE FORTS JUNCTION
Grade 2 to 4
Depart: HORSESHOE BAY
5.4km (2 hours)
At the eastern end of the Horseshoe Bay foreshore the track climbs up and along a ridge. A turn left leads down to Balding Bay. By continuing along the ridge it is about the same distance to Radical Bay.
To finish the walk you can either:
For a shorter walk, retrace your steps back to Horseshoe Bay or,
Follow the road that leads from Radical Bay back to the main road and the Forts Juntion via Florence Bay and Arthur Bay. This is a much longer route, and we HIGHLY recommend that you take 2 litres of drinking water.
3b.HORSESHOE BAY LAGOON CONSERVATION PARK
Depart: HORSESHOE BAY RD or via HENRY LAWSON ST HSB
560m one way (10 minutes return)
Visit the largest seasonal freshwater lagoon on the island, a good place spot a diversity of bird life.
Horseshoe Bay Lagoon is a popular area for bird watching. The track begins on Horseshoe Bay Road, about 200 m from the beach, and leads to a lagoon where a number of waterbirds can be seen. Alternatively walk to the end of Henry Lawson Street on the beachside, and enter the boardwalk.
Magpie geese nest in the bulkuru sedges, and the melaceuca woodland is ideal habitat for a number of woodland species. Nov - May/June is the best time.
5. ARCADIA TO NELLY BAY (GABUL WAY)
Depart: NELLY BAY OR GEOFFREY BAY
1km (20 minutes)
Built at a cost of AUD $4.7 million, this elevated walkway provides a safe and wonderfully scenic link between two of the Island’s busiest bays.
The Nelly Bay end of the walkway starts near the ferry terminal and follows the main road up over Bright Point headland and down into Arcadia. There are several lookouts to pause and enjoy the fabulous views over Geoffrey Bay.
6b. HAWKINGS POINT
Depart: PICNIC BAY
1.2km (30 minutes)
This is one of the easiest and shortest walks with an exceptional view. The track begins at the end of Picnic Street in Picnic Bay and winds its way up to the top of a huge granite boulder.
If you face towards Townsville and across Cleveland Bay, to your left is Cape Cleveland. On the horizon topped with an antennae is Mt Stuart, the highest peak in the area, and above The Strand (Townsville's foreshore) towers Castle Hill. Continuing along the coast to your right is Kissing Point, then Pallarenda (the closest point on the mainland to Magnetic Island).
On other side of the lookout there is a great view of Rocky Bay just below, then along Nelly Bay beach to the Harbour and on to Geoffrey Bay with Arcadia in the distance.
Looking towards the centre of the Island you will find Mt Cook, at 497metres, it’s the highest peak on the Island.
2a. SEARCHLIGHT TOWER TRACK FROM RADICAL BAY TRACK
Depart: RADICAL BAY TRACK
540m (10 minutes)
This track is located along the Radical Bay Track. The start of this track, marked by a National Parks sign, in between Arthur Bay and Florence Bay.
Remnants of the World War II searchlight tower still exist today overlooking Florence Bay.
4. NELLY BAY TO ARCADIA
Depart: EITHER NELLY BAY or ARCADIA
Nelly Bay to Arcadia: 6.3km (2 hours)
Nelly Bay to The Forts: 6.4km (2 hours)
This track starts at the end of Mandalay Avenue and passes through a cool patch of rainforest alongside Gustav Creek before a steady climb to the saddle of the ridge, with Nelly Bay on one side and Horseshoe Bay on the other.
Many birds and wildlife can be seen, (as well as bush orchids at the right time year). To this point and back is a 45 minute walk.
For a longer walk continue along the ridge through open eucalypt forest to an excellent view of Horseshoe Bay. A little further on the track divides, (left to Horseshoe Bay Road and later, left again to the Sphinx lookout), or continue on to Arcadia.
When the track reaches the bitumen road, just a short distance up to the left is Alma Bay Lookout, the view is well worth that little extra effort. This is a great walk to take lunch and admire the view.
5b. HERITAGE TRACK TO BRIGHT POINT
Depart: NELLY BAY or GEOFFREY BAY
500m (15 minutes)
This track parallels Gabul Way on other side of the main road, (further up the hill) and is part of the hundred year old original footpath that connected the two bays before there was a road, the only other option in those days was by boat.
The track starts some way up the hill at the Nelly Bay end and is marked by signs at either end, and has some great views over Geoffrey Bay. It finishes as Gabul Way meets the beach, near the first house.
7. PICNIC BAY TO WEST POINT
Depart: PICNIC BAY
8km (2.5 hours) one way
Following the road past the golf course, this walk is along the bush track that links the bays on the western side of the Island. This area is very different to the rest of the Island.
The track passes alongside tidal wetlands, mangroves and saltwater swamps, over four freshwater creeks (after rain), through savannah grasslands and paperbark trees.
You will need sturdy footwear, lots of drinking water, and a can of insect repellant, but your reward will be seeing the animals and the birds of the wetlands. At the end of the walk you will be on West Point beach the closest point to the mainland.
Additional Magnetic Island Walks
ROCK WALLABIES & BREMNER POINT
750m. (20 minutes)
A popular and easy walk is from the Arcadia Village Hotel, along Armand Way to the end of the road at Bremner Point where the allied rock wallabies are in abundance, especially late afternoon/early evening.
The preference is NOT to feed the rock wallabies, but if you have a "need to feed" please see our food recommendations for what is best (some foods can be very harmful and cause death).
Bremner Point is also a short cut to the start of the Geoffrey Bay Snorkel Trail.
ARCADIA NATURE TRAIL WALK
Variable. Stop and start as you wish.
Take an easy walk and settle into Island Time along the Arcadia Nature Walk. This walk will take you along the Geoffrey Bay foreshore, past rare vine thicket, into the National Park bush tracks and back along Alma Bay and to Bremner Point.
Visit arcadiacoastcare.com.au to download the Nature Trail Walk flyer with additional information on the local flora and fauna of this area.
NB: Some of our birds are ground nesters, so please walk on the designated paths.
Depart: HORSESHOE BAY (Near the corner of the Horseshoe Bay Road and Heath Street)
SHHH! You're entering the Butterfly Walk.
It's very important for these butterflies to rest on their journey, so PLEASE BE VERY QUIET when you walk through, especially with children.
The secluded Magnetic Island Butterfly Forest is where millions of Blue Tiger butterflies migrate to rest and recover from their long journey. They venture south in summer to as far away as Victoria, and return between April to September.
You'll also find koalas, bird life, bats, wallabies, skinks and lizards on this magical walk.