Doubting the DevilExperienced
Submitted by Tony Sharpe
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Back country - remote
Native bushRiversideOpen tussock/grasslands
Not Suitable (Slow)
This is one for the Southern Alps purists. A wonderful day out in the pristine Lewis Pass mountains.
Start on the Nina Valley Track which quickly crosses the Lewis River via swingbridge and crosses a small and sometimes boggy plateau for a couple of kms before descending down to the Nina River. Cross on the bridge and follow it all the way up to Nina Hut. Mostly runnable the whole way to the hut on classic kiwi bush trails, some steeper bits towards the hut.
Have a break at the well located Nina Hut (or even overnight here if you are taking it slower) and fuel up for a steep climb that follows up to the Devilskin Pass. It gets pretty steep as you near the bushline. Break out into the tussock and continue climbing up to the saddle and have a breather at the wonderfully named Devils Den Biv. If you are feeling extra adventurous you could scramble up the Devil's Rampart for a bit of extra should you have the itch (NB for experts only - scrambling and route finding skills required!)
From here follow the poles over the other side of the Devilskin Pass. Look for the large marker at the bushline and you'll be on the long sidling descent back down. Take your time here and look after your knees. After a lengthy descent you'll hit the valley floor, and cross the river to pick up the marked track down the Doubtful Valley. Travel down here is fast and enjoyable. At the end of the valley you'll be back into the Lewis, which you follow back to the highway on the Te Araroa Trail - a mix of river crossings and flats bashing out to Boyle Village. At the highway its another optional 5km up the SH7 if you haven't organised a pickup/ dropoff.
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Features of interest
Nina Hu,t Devils Den Biv, great scenery
Make Up of Run
Technical Single Track: 60%
Moderate Single Track: 20%
Easy Single Track: 20%
Start at the Nina ValleyTrackhead, across SH7 from Palmer Lodge
There is parking next to Palmer Lodge at the Nina end, and at Boyle Village. You might want 2 cars or a shuttle if not wanting a 5km Highway run extra at the end. Don't leave valuables in your car if overnighting.
The trails are pretty well marked, but make sure you have a good topomap and GPS in case you stray
Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Gaiters.
There are plenty of pristine mountain streams to fill up in
Expect snow in winter especially accross the tops. This is proper rugged mountain backcountry
Don't go if the rivers are up or rising- you need river crossing skills in the Doubtful and Lewis.
Check the forecast and don't go in bad weather
Be prepared for delays and gear up in any season, you don't want to get stuck up here without the right kit
Leave your intentions with someone and carry a PLB if you can get hold of one
Post run indulgence
Hamner Springs- lots of options and the Pools
Sponsor this trail
See other runs nearby:
Fowlers Pass - St James
Mt Isobel Long Loop
Hanmer 10km loop
Hope Kiwi Half
Izzy Stradlin CCW
The James Hundy Epic
Easy Rider & Conical Hill
Hanmer Old Forest Loop
St James Walkway
Doubtful Lake Man with Hope
A Tale of Two Peters
Nina Valley SH7 to Swingbridge