Wilkie and The Enchanted RidgeBeginner
Submitted by Emily Shrosbree
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Front country - easily accessible
Undulating, some big hills
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This route is part of the Further Faster Beginners Collection
Set off from the DOC sign just above the visitor centre, signed towards Wilkies Pools. The first section is wide, buggy-friendly track with some boardwalk. When you reach Wilkies Pools, cross the bridge (hopefully here you get a clear view of Mt Taranaki), and fork left following signs for the Stratford Plateau.
The track then follows the contour level-ish for a kilometer or so. You'll pass two opportunities to turn right, but take the left/straight on option each time until you reach the Stratford Plateau car park (also a good base for a couple of other trail loops). There are toilets here if you need them. Turn back up the track you just arrived along and run back to the first junction, where you turn left down the Enchanted Track. This is a lovely narrow spur which descends steeply (some steps and roots). At the junction at the base turn right (signed Waingongoro Hut).
The track flattens, then gradually climbs to a swing bridge. On the far side of the bridge you have the option of a quick detour to Waingongoro Hut, but turn right for the main route which climbs gently onwards. Take a left at the next two junctions, along the Ridge Loop Track until you reach a final bridge and then pop out on the road just below the car park. It's 200m up the road to the Visitor Centre where you began, with the option of a quick look at the historic Dawson Falls power station on your right.
Features of interest
Wilkie's Pools on Kapuni Stream, a couple of swing bridges, historic Dawson Falls power station (a 2 min detour as you return to the car park).
Make Up of Run
Technical Single Track: 20%
Moderate Single Track: 50%
Easy Single Track: 30%
Dawson Falls Visitor Centre. This is at the carpark at the very top of Manaia Road.
Good and safe parking, but can get busy.
The route is generally easy to follow, with signs at every junction.
Short-sleeved thermal top, Windproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.
Water is available at the start/end of the route, and at several minor stream crossings along the way.
Mostly sheltered in the bush, but could get muddy after rain.
Some sections may get slightly overgrown at times.
Post run indulgence
Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge & Cafe
At the carpark/Visitor Centre where you start and finish your run
Delicious blueberry crumble right at the end of your run.
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