Walking track – From Nihotupu Dam Road wide track crosses Nihotupu Stream then climbs steadily, then very steeply to meet grassy track bypassing Hauler Tunnel on Nihotupu Tramline. Large, squat kauri marks top of incline. Surface slippery in places. Track follows level grade to and along tramline, then up short access drive to Greenwoods Corner on Scenic Drive. 3.2km.
I’d seen the entrance to the Incline Track on the afternoon I parked at Greenwoods Corner to run along the Rangemore Track which is directly across the road. Initially I had thought that Rangemore Track was behind the gate however upon closer inspection I realised my error.
As the track is named Incline and I don’t like hills I hadn’t given much thought to running along it, especially after reading the track description on the ARC website. When the ARC uses the word very, they mean VERY and if you ever see the term extremely steeply, just bypass the trail entirely as you will invariably spend the entire time praying to whichever God you pray too for protection.
Anyhoo after reading this exert on Dave’s blog;
The track between Scenic Drive and the Hauler Tunnel, along the Nihotupu Railway, is un-named and missing from the ARC notes, but if you’re coming from the Scenic Drive to the Incline Track to descend it, this is the route. It’s pleasant level walking in lush surroundings, ideal for a family outing or stroll.
I imagined that at least some of it would be flat, lush and a lovely “stroll” in the Waitakere Ranges and thankfully it was just that!
From the gate the wide driveway descends a short distance to reach a wide clearing, passing the one and only toilet enroute. I’m not sure of it’s condition as I didn’t stop and I haven’t seen any mention of it in any of the track literature I’ve come across. At the clearing I got a little dis-orientated due to the two large mounds of gravel that had been dumped there, but I spotted a no entry sign to the left so I headed the other way to find the track sign tucked around the corner next to the tramline.
Now it was a case of following the tramline. Previously I’ve found tramlines a bitch of a thing to run along. The wood tends to be really slippery and the gaps between them aren’t quite spaced correctly for my gait however in this case there is enough room on either side to run freely and it’s visually stunning. In fact, I ran the entire tramline section thinking “Oh Incline Track, where have you been all my life”.
Although the tramline continues straight through the Hauler Tunnel the Incline Track veers left, narrows and heads through bush for approximately five minutes to reach the “Squat Kauri” mentioned above. I guess it may have once been squat (when they wrote the description) but now probably many years later, it’s best described as large and unmissable especially given that it’s fenced off.
From the Kauri Tree the next 200m’s are steep! It’s probably quicker to sit down on your arse and slide down the bank, however with the amount of man made “steps” people have made to help them ascend it would probably hurt. Although I did consider the sliding option I chose to go with quick small side steps while grabbing at trees enroute to slow me down. On the day I visited the ground underfoot was relatively dry, I’d hate to try and get down it when it’s wet. That being said, if I had to chose between descending this track or Houghton’s I’d pick this one hands down mostly because the steep section is much shorter.
After 200m’s it flattens out slightly and then continues to descend (on a much more manageable gradient) until just before you reach the bridge crossing where it flattens out. Once you’ve crossed the bridge you are only a couple of minutes away from where the track ends at Nihutapu Dam Road.
All in all this is very much a track of two halves the first section is flat, scenic and very family friendly – just like Dave said, it would made an idea family outing or stroll the second half is very much what I’ve come to expect from trail running in the Waitakere’s – steep, slippery and muddy. On a positive note the ARC haven’t yet decided to lay gravel along the length of it ..
The other stuff;
Parking – On Scenic Drive (at Greenwoods Corner)
Toilets – There is one down the drive at the gate (where you park) it’s pretty bare bones the next closest would be at Arataki Visitor Centre .
Kid Friendly – Up till the Kauri Tree the track is very kid friendly.
Time – ARC time said 1 hour (from either end), I did a return trip in just under that.
Till next time