The Hawea River is only about 10 kilometres (6 miles) long. It flows out of Lake Hawea and joins the Clutha River just below the Albert Town Bridge where this track starts. The track follows the river upstream to the small town of Hawea which is on the edge of the lake.
It's a very pleasant "family-scenic" style of ride on a wide all-weather track with enough undulation to give a reasonable workout and the panoramic views are stunning.
If you want to extend the ride, you can carry on along the edge of the lake past the town for several kilometres. That's also a good wide undulating track called the Gladstone Track with expansive views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Be sure to stop at the Hawea store - there is only one - where you can get a delicious hokey-pokey ice-cream in a cone. There is a pub just down the road if you prefer beer.
The ride back down the river is more fun since you're going down so if you only ride the trail one way, start at Hawea.
Wanaka is spoilt for choice with this kind of family-scenic trail. The Glendhu Bay Track, the Lake Wanaka Outlet Trail, and the Upper Clutha River Loop are even more spectacular - but without the ice-cream!
Text by jimcummings