Cass-Lagoon TrailIntermediate - Experienced
Submitted by Mike Steel
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Back country - remote
Point to Point (one way)
Undulating, some big hills
Native bushRiversideOpen ridges/tops
Intermediate - Experienced
The Cass-Lagoon track is a popular 2-3 day tramping track that's also a very pleasant trail run. It follows well-marked trails connecting two sheltered valleys, passing over two alpine saddles, with forest, alpine scrub and stream sections, numerous huts, and increasingly open and wild running in Cass stream near the end. Being east of the divide, and with no major river crossing issues, it can be run for much of the year.
The track heads up through beech forest and then breaks out to give superb views nearer to Lagoon saddle, before descending into the Harper River system. It's a pleasant run down through here - the trail in this section is part of the Te Araroa Trail, however you leave this when Hamilton Creek joins in - cross a left over a bridge and head a short distance up Hamilton Creek to the spacious Hamilton Hut.
From there, the trail grinds its way up valley, which becomes increasingly steep as it leaves Hamilton Creek (this is the one place you won't be running!) then eases off before Cass Saddle. From here it's a delightful descent on fast trails down to the Cass river, with some river crossing and running on faint trails across river stones to follow. Eventually a marker guides you over a stopbank onto a 4WD track to follow an obvious long straight line of pine trees that leads to your bike (or second car).
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Features of interest
Tarns, views of the southern alps, mixed terrain, sheltered valleys, two low-alpine saddles
Make Up of Run
Technical Single Track: 30%
Moderate Single Track: 70%
While it can be run in either direction, it seems to work best from the Bealey end. Drop a bike (or second car) at the Cass car park then drive to the carpark at the end of the gravel drive leading to Cora Lyn Station off SH73 (which is between Cass settlement and the Bealey settlement/pub, by the wide Waimakariri river).
Parking at the Cora Lyn end seems relatively safe since it is off the main road and near a house.
Make navigation of this route super-easy by using the RunHunters app on your phone. View on RunHunters .
If you instead run from the Cass end, be careful not to get slightly lost at one particular point (several people have!) - it's where the Harper River and Long Creek join (take a map) - so if you are heading UP the Harper River you need to turn right at this junction. Also, whichever direction you are heading make sure you don't start running down the Harper river after the junction with Hamilton Creek (consult the map if in doubt).
Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Compass, Map.
Plenty of water the whole way in streams and at huts
Can be impassable due to heavy snow - you can see if Cass saddle (highest point) is clear of snow from SH73 near Cass. Also near there, check the level of the Cass river - it's usually pretty low but after heavy rain it could be an issue.
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See other runs nearby:
Bealey - Avalanche Traverse
Rome Ridge/Rough Creek Alpine Circuit
Avalanche Peak - Crow River
Coal Pit Spur Loop
Waimak Col (Otira to Klondyke)
The Bloody Limit
Oates for Breakfast
Encompassing Arthur's Pass
Barker's for Brunch
KKK (Klondyke - Kelly - Klondyke)
Poulter River Ranger
Dash, Bash, Splash and Dash Harman Pass