Tramping Track – From the end of Tram Valley Road, Swanson Pipeline Track follows a driveway, through a low tunnel (caution required) then follows the pipeline along a bulldozed road. The track takes you over undulating terrain (very steep in places) to Christian Road near the Waitakere Filter Station, 2.0km. (Source).
I have run the section of the Swanson Pipeline Track between the Waitakere Filter Station and the tunnel twice now. The first time I ran from the Filter Station end and I chickened out as soon as I saw the tunnel and high tailed it back to safety again. On my return visit I ran down to the Swanson Pipeline Track from the Peripatus Track so unless I wanted to add an additional 5.5km onto my route (which I did not) I had no choice but to run at warp speed through the tunnel to get to the other side. I hadn’t however (until this week) run the section from the tunnel to Tram Valley Road, which is the reason I had not yet posted a trail report.
The ARC have described the track going from Tram Valley Road towards the Waitakere Filter Station but I’m going to describe the track from the opposite direction …..
From the parking area outside the stone walled entrance of the Waitakere Filter Station, head down the driveway and in approximately 100m you’ll see the Swanson Pipeline sign on your right, follow the dirt trail to the shoe cleaning station a short located a short distance away. This first section is a single track through tall trees and is perhaps the prettiest section of the trail even though it doesn’t look either well used or maintained. This single track brings you to what I assume is a Watercare maintenance “road” (a clay 4WD track). To the left is a locked gate (which leads to the driveway) and the trail continues on your right.
The surface underfoot all the way to the aforementioned tunnel (which is approximately 10 minutes away from where we started) is clay and there is one particularly steep section finishing in a set of somewhat interesting stairs that takes you underneath the pipeline, which is actually pretty cool and once you’ve passed under the pipe you head back up the other side and the tunnel is a couple of minutes ahead of you.
This tunnel is (apparently) 1.5m in height and at 30m in length you can juuuust see the other end when you stand at the entrance but once inside you can’t see shit lololol
On the other side of the tunnel once you head up narrow pathway to the top of the hill it’s like you are on a completely different trail, I’m guessing thanks in part to this being the final section of the Hillary Trail. From this point the final 900 m of trail leading to Tram Valley Road is a steeply undulating wide gravel pathway, which looks as though it’s either been resurfaced quite recently or not particularly well used. Although I can’t imagine it being the latter, in fact even on the particularly wild and wet Monday afternoon when I ran the Swanson Pipeline Track I passed fully laden trampers heading towards Tram Road (although to be fair, they were probably trying to get off the Hillary quick smart before the incoming Cyclone)!
You’ve completed the final descent when you reach a bend in the trail where you can see what looks like a bridge up ahead of you – although as I neared it was actually some kind of safety railing. As you near the railing you’ll be able to see the end of the trail up ahead of you (with the shoe cleaning station located on the left just before the locked gate).
From the tunnel to Tram Valley Road, the trail is quite picturesque (in a generically Waitakere Ranges kind of way) but there isn’t anything that stands out as amazing, there were nice Kauri Trees along the way and the fantails were particularly friendly. The highlight of the trail was probably the section where you go under the pipeline (on the Christian Road side).
The other stuff;
Location – End of Christian Road or end of Tramline Valley Road.
Parking – Yes, however it’s EXTREMELY limited on the Tramline Valley Road end (and I mean EXTREMELY)*
Toilets – Yes, at the Waitakere Filter Station, Christian Road, Swanson.
Kid Friendly – I guess, but it’s probably wouldn’t be my first choice for a kid friendly outing.
Till next time
*Tram Valley Road is weird. You get to what seems like the “end of the road” but there is no trail in sight. The first time I drove there I shook my head, gave up and headed to another trail. This time (after reading some blogs and knowing that the sign should be pretty obvious) I headed down what I initially thought was a driveway and found the trail just before a bridge marked “Private Property”. I pulled into the driveway where the trail starts which was just wide enough to accommodate my car and still let another car through the gate.