The Gravel GrindBeginner
Submitted by Katie Smith
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Front country - easily accessible
Undulating, small hills only
Native bushPlantation/exotic forestLakeside
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This is an easy loop with gentle climbs only - great for building up those kms!
Start at the Kapitea Reservoir and head out along the travel embankment alongside the water. For the first 11-12km follow signs for the West Coast Wilderness Trail cycleway. This heads along gravel and 4WD tracks between the two dams, with short segments of single trail through lush bush, and plenty of views over the water to the Southern Alps. It climbs steadily until meeting the Old Christchurch Road - this is a gravel road open to traffic but is usually quiet. Turn right.
Continue on this road for around 4km, until you reach the signposted right turn into Duffers Creek Road. This starts out as gravel road but you soon reach a sign beyond which the road is no longer maintained. From here it is a rough 4WD track with short patches of muddy bog in the low spots. At an old junction the Duffers Creek Road (which heads left) is blocked off - bear slightly right then continue until you meet a T junction. Turn left here.
From here you can choose to take the next right (approx 300m later) or continue straight on. Turning right will decrease the distance by about 2km but is a rougher track (some overgrown gorse right at the end before it meets Stafford Loop road), whereas heading straight on will bring you out onto the sealed Stafford Loop road earlier, with more running on tarmac. Either way when you reach the seal, turn right here. Continue until you seen the turn-off to the dam where you started.
Features of interest
Great views over the Kapitea Dam to the mountains.
Make Up of Run
Easy Single Track: 10%
Farm Road / 4WD Track: 50%
Gravel Road: 35%
Sealed Road: 5%
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Turn off SH73 onto Stafford Loop Road at the sign for Dillmans Dam just east of Kumara. Turn left at the wooden Kapitea Reservoir sign and park down by the water.
Safe parking by the dam, with public toilets
Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.
Plenty of small creeks along the way to collect water
Parts of Duffers Creek 4WD track will be very wet after rain
Watch out for bikers
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