Swingbridges & TunnelsBeginner - Intermediate
Submitted by Mike Tennent
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Front country - easily accessible
Undulating, some big hills
Beginner - Intermediate
Starting at the campground follow the trail and cross the first swingbridge, a bit further along you will see the exit to the Dubbo Trail on your left... run past that and over the second swingbridge. Shortly after that you will come to the main tunnel... you will need either a headlamp or a good torch for this, the floor is rocky, undulating and has many many puddles of varying depth.
Out the other side stop briefly and look to your left to see the river coming out of the rock... worth a snap!
Follow the trail for a while of pretty cruisy running until you see a set of steps on your right... head up them and break out the light again and head into the Windows Trail... again it is worth taking your time and checking out the views from the side trails.
Once through the tunnels, take the main trail that veers left and follow that down and around to the next swingbridge. Over the Swingbridge and up onto the trail and a little left there is a small narrow trail that leaves the main trail heading up the hill - if you find yourself on a well formed trail going either way then you have missed it (easy to do)... so double back and look for the small trail.
Follow that up all the way until it spits you out on the road at the top and turn left. Carry on up the road, go straight past the first road that come in from the right (you will come out of this later) and watch for the next track to the right... signposted as County Road. Head up here, a little rocky and steep at first, it quickly settles to a very runnable trail all the way to the top of the hill.
There is only one trail off this before the top, you will pass the top of the Dubbo Track that we passed the bottom of earlier. More about that later, but for now, run straight past.
Eventually at the top you will come to a 3 way junction, off to the left is the Mangakino Pack Track (great route but not today)... the straight ahead trail and the one to the right both lead to the same spot so take you choice. The right hand trail is slightly shorter but quite a bit more technical... on this run we headed straight ahead.
At the next intersection you have the choice of a side trip to the trig, great views and worth it if you are not in a hurry. Otherwise take the other trail at the sign and start heading down the hill... be careful, it can be very slippery if there has been rain. From here just follow the main trail until you come out the bottom onto the road you ran earlier. We had planned to run back up the hill and down Dubbo which would have made this the Xterra National Course, however on this day there had been a lot of rain and the trail can be very muddy and has a fast flowing stream crossing that we decided to skip. So from this point we retraced our steps to the bottom of the hill.
Then instead of going back over the swingbridge we took the right hand trail and followed it with the river on our left until we came to another swingbridge which we crossed, just after that we passed the steps to the Windows on out left and then followed the trail back to the start.
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Features of interest
A long walking tunnel created with pickaxes and dynamite many years ago plus several other mining tunnels. Mine workings and many old mine shafts.
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 0%
Technical Single Track: 25%
Moderate Single Track: 45%
Easy Single Track: 20%
Farm Road / 4WD Track: 5%
Gravel Road: 5%
Sealed Road: 0%
Coming from the Paeroa end of the Karangahake Gorge, go most of the way through the gorge looking for Waitawheta Road off to the right. Just after the turn watch out for Owharoa Falls on your left... worth a stop if you have time. Otherwise keep driving until you see Kennedy Rd off to the right. Head down Kennedy Rd and veer right into Dickey Flat Road and follow it to the end where you will find the trail.
There is usually plenty of parking at the Dickey Flat Campsite and because there are usually multiple cars and some campers, thing are always pretty secure.
Make navigation of this route super-easy by using the RunHunters app on your phone. View on RunHunters .
Once out of the Windows Trail take the swingbridge straight in front of you and then take your time to find the small trail up the hill.
Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.
Available for much of the run
Clay base means that the downhill can be treacherous after rain.
Many places, rocky trail sections, the long tunnel and the downhill if wet. If you decide to run Dubbo it is highly technical and the stream crossing can be tricky
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