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Tags:
Level: Advanced
Length: 25 mi (40.2 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +1,219/1 ft
Total: 20 riders
 

Mountain Biking Craigieburn Forest

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#6 of 381 mountain bike trails in New Zealand
#908 in the world

The Craigieburn Range, in the lee of the Southern Alps is dry, stark, steep, high and dramatic. Beech forest clings to the less hostile slopes, elsewhere great screeds of scree slowly slip down the steep slopes. Believe it or not there are a few great mountain bike trails threading through these hills. They are not modern MTB park style tracks - they are bad old-school style tracks - with crazy exposure in places but quite cruisy on the lower slopes.

The best of the Craigieburn trails can be combined into one epic circuit about 40km (25 miles) long with 1000 metres (3000 feet) of altitude gain and loss.

There are three places you can start...

*** 1. At Castle Hill Village which has the advantage of being the low point of the circuit. You would start by riding up highway 73 to the Craigieburn camp ground.
*** 2 At the Craigieburn camp ground and picnic area on Broken Hill Ski-field Road. From there you would ride through a 1.3km trail called "Slider73" to Craigieburn Ski-field Road.
*** 3 At Flock Hill Station which has nice rustic accommodation. From there you would ride up the Coal Pit Spur Track to Craigieburn Ski-field Road.

Here is a blow by blow account of the circuit...

1. Ride up the Craigieburn Skifield Road also known as the Craigieburner but it won't burn your lungs if you take your time. It climbs up steadily through beech forest until finally, after an hour or so, you emerge into open treeless mountain side at the ski field. Time to suck in the cool mountain air as you savour the panorama... :::
2. The Edge Track, also known as the Craigieburn Valley Track, starts at the base of the ski tow. It will keep you on edge for its entire 3.4km length. There is no other like it. It crosses steep scree slopes, passes through beech forest, sometimes narrow, sometimes rocky, sometimes with crazy exposure, generally down sloping, always on-top-of-the-world wow! ... :::
3. At the DOC sign, ride-push up the Lyndon Saddle track to the top in less than 1km . It's steep but non threatening... :::
4. From here on the Lyndon Saddle Track is known as The Luge. The ride style changes as it slopes down quite steeply through dense beech forest. There's lots of root drops, twists, turns, and other surprises - it's an intense 2.3km... :::
5. Turn right and pedal up the Broken Hill Ski-field Road for less than 1km where you'll see the sign for the Dracophyllum Flat Track. (If you'd turned left you'd go down the the Craigieburn camp ground - a short-cut home.) ... :::
6. The Dracophyllum Flat Track is not flat! It is varied and interesting for its entire 6km. It descends through Beech Forest, traverses open country and undulates but is generally flowing and quite fast. It comes out at the Mount Cheeseman Skifield Road just where the Hogs Back Track forks off it... :::
7. The Hogs Back Track is long - 7.5km - and starts with a fairly steep singletrack climb in open tussock country. That is followed by an absolutely glorious, fast down hill ride to Castle Hill Village... :::

Craigieburn is for mountain bikers who like to bike in the mountains! These are incredibly varied, intense grade 3 to 5 bad-arse singletrack trails that challenge and thrill in an environment that will take your breath away and soothe your soul.

Before you go
  • No Drinking water 
  • No E-bikes permitted 
  • No Fat biking allowed in winter 
  • No Fee required 
  • No Lift service 
  • No Night riding allowed 
  • No Pump track 
  • No Restrooms 
Getting there
From Christchurch take highway 73 towards Arthurs Pass. After 100km, turn left into a gravel road at the sign "Craigieburn Recreation Area". There is a primitive campground and parking area a short distance along this side road.
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Good (on Dec 30, 2017)
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Reviews

  • Desperado
    *****

    Just rode it again. Still one of the best "challenging sub-alpine back-country adventure rides" on the planet. Only surpassed by the Old Ghost Road.

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  • Desperado
    *****

    I liked riding through NZ beech forest on this trail. It has some great moments and I've (over)rated it 5 stars, because the singletracks rating system will drag down the overall, Craigieburn Forest rating if I don't - and overall Craigiburn Forest is rad, rad, rad, rad, rad!!.

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  • Jim Cummings
    *****

    Desperado nailed it in her trail description when she said its for mountain bikers who like to bike in the mountains! You certainly get a top of the world feeling when you reach the Craigieburn ski field. When you begin riding down the singletrack you start an intense, long, varied, undulating descent that lets you know you're alive.

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  • Desperado
    *****

    Great alpine day riding - and it's less than two hours drive from Christchurch.

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