One of the best ways to explore Magnetic Island is on foot. A network of walking tracks allows you to appreciate the island’s natural environment protected within the national park. Walking tracks range from easy, short walks to longer tracks with a moderate level of difficulty. Wear sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen. Take drinking water. Be careful exploring around cliff edges and the defense ruins.
Stay on the tracks. Be aware that boulders may be unstable.
Hawkings Point track – 1.2 km return (1 hr) Grade: moderate
From the eastern end of Picnic Street in Picnic Bay, a track winds to the top of a large boulder, affording views over the island to Nelly and Geoffrey bays and back towards Townsville.
Picnic Bay to West Point – 16 km return (5 hrs) Grade: easy
This walk follows an unsealed road that links the bays on the western side of the island. The track starts at Yule Street near the golf course, passing a tidal wetland, mangroves, paperbark swamps and savanna grasslands.
Nelly Bay to Arcadia – 5 km one way (2.5 hrs) Grade: moderate
From the end of Mandalay Avenue in Nelly Bay, this walk passes through a vine-thicket pocket, climbs gradually to the saddle between Nelly and Horseshoe bays and then follows a ridge with views over Horseshoe Bay. The track then branches, with one track leading to Arcadia Bay and the other to Horseshoe Bay Road, where you can continue on to other tracks.
A 400 m return sidetrack to the Sphinx lookout branches from the main track, 750 m from Arcadia.
Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay – 2.5 km return (1 hr) Grade: moderate
From the eastern end of Horseshoe Bay beach, the track climbs through a steep gully of closed forest to a ridge with open eucalyptus woodland. One branch of the track leads down to secluded Balding Bay. A toilet is the only facility at the bay – drinking water is not available. At high tide access to the start of the walk at Horseshoe Bay may be through shallow water. Visitors are advised to check tide times.
Horseshoe Bay to Radical Bay – 3.4 km return (1.5 hrs) Grade: moderate
Continue from the turn-off to Balding Bay over the ridge to Radical Bay with its beautiful beach surrounded by hoop-pine and boulder-strewn headlands. There are no facilities. Parts of the land behind the beach are privately owned. Please observe signs.
One of the most popular tracks on the island, the Forts walk leads to historic WWII fortifications and infrastructure. Lookouts along the way afford excellent views to the Palm Island Group in the north and Bowling Green Bay National Park in the south. Koalas are often seen in trees along the track. The walk culminates in 360 degree views from the top of the fortifications. Starting on Horseshoe Bay Road at the turn-off to Radical Bay, the track ascends, sometimes steeply, to follow a ridge behind the bays before arriving at the ruins of the Forts complex operated during World War II.
From the Forts car park on Horseshoe Bay Road, follow a narrow sealed road. Branching tracks reveal undeveloped bays that offer excellent swimming and snorkelling. Toilets are located at Florence and Horseshoe bays. Please carry water as drinking water is not available on these walks.
Arthur Bay -2 km return (30 mins)
Florence Bay -3.6 km return (1 hr)
Radical Bay -6 km return (2 hrs)
Searchlight Tower -3.7 km return (1 hr)
Horseshoe Bay via Radical Bay -7.5 km one way (2 hrs)
Horseshoe Bay Lagoon?200 m return (15 mins) Grade: easy
Horseshoe Bay Lagoon is a popular area for birdwatching. 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. Magpie geese nest in the bulkuru sedges, and the melaceuca woodland is ideal habitat for a number of woodland species.