The logistics of running from one point to another (as you would on the Hillary Trail) tend to put me off and although I’m not opposed to running to a point then turning around to run back the same way, I much prefer a loop course.
When I first started trail running I searched extensively for loops that I could run, but I didn’t really have much luck so now that I have a few favorites under my belt (or should that be shoes?) I thought I may as well start writing track reports for anyone else who is just starting out and looking for circuits that they can run ..
The Pipeline Loop;
(Distance) – 6.2km
(Route) – Arataki Visitors car park, Beveridge Track, Exhibition Drive, Pipeline Road, Pipeline Track, Slip Track, Arataki Visitors car park.
Without a doubt this is the loop that I run the most often especially during the week as it’s easy to get to from where I work.
There is a large car parking area outside the Arataki Visitor Centre which is a relatively safe place to leave your car because there are always a lot of people milling about. There are also toilet facilities and water taps available that are accessible even when the Visitor Centre is closed. You can even grab an ice cream from the Danish Delight stand before getting that all important post run selfie by the large picture frame if you are that way inclined.
The route itself has a little bit of everything from the bush enclosed single track you’ll find at the top of the Slip Track to the wide open gravel surface of Pipeline Road. One thing you will find in abundance though, is hills. James often describes this route as a great training run – eg it’s not particularly pretty but dam good for your legs and lungs.
On that note, I think it’s a much easier run if you complete the course in a clockwise direction heading down to Beveridge Track from the car park first to then ascend Slip Track at the end. Having said that, I run the course in about the same time regardless of the direction I do it in, but I do prefer the clockwise direction even though I’m usually gasping for air on the way up Slip Track.
In summary, the Pipeline Loop is a non-technical loop course which is perfect for beginners that starts and ends at the Arataki Visitor Centre.
A non-technical and well groomed trail for the masses. From the car park it’s pretty much all downhill. There is one particularly steep section just past the picnic table. PS – The best view of the trail is just before you head down the hill.
This section is a 500 m section of gravel road that is open to traffic so remember to run on the right hand side of that road so that you are facing any oncoming vehicles. It’s downhill all the way to Pipeline Road.
Undulating wide gravel access road (which is closed to the public). One very steep hill in the middle.
Short section of Pipeline Track leads from Pipeline Road to Slip Track. Narrower than Pipeline Road probably more along the lines of a farm track and much more enclosed. Has recently been resurfaced.
Steep .. lol .. but like actually. 😉
Till next time