If you're not a local there are some difficulties in getting to ride the awesome trails in this forest. First up you need a permit because it's a production forest on private land. Secondly, as it's not a public park, the local mountain bike club is not helpful to the general public.
So don't rock up and expect a fun day riding. There are a couple of little hoops you need to jump through first. It's worth it; during summer these trails are the best in Auckland for fit intermediate and advanced riders.
You can get a permit from the Howick Information Centre for $10. Phone 09 534 4796 first to ensure the manager is there because only she can issue them! Don't leave without the trail map - you're going to need it.
You can't get a permit through short-term membership of the local club. You have to join up for a year for $40. They'll send you a map along with the permit because you can't download a map from their website at www.pcbc.co.nz. But despite appearances, they are a friendly bunch and great to ride with, so if you're an Aucklander, the $40 is a great investment.
The signage in the forest is minimalist! You'll see trail name signs but no grade or distance. Deep in the big bad forest you'll come to many forks with no signage - try keep track of where you are and allow plenty of time to find your way back to the car park! You won't have cell phone reception.
Finally, let me say that I wanted to write about the amazing trails in this forest rather than the side issues!! It would be great New Zealand mountain bike clubs didn't build trails in production forests!
Text by jimcummings