The Switchback track at Nicols Creek links Swampy Summit to the Leith Valley. Built by Mountainbiking Otago, with assistance from the Corrections Department, it's designed to be ridden both up and down, and when completed it will be surfaced allowing it to be ridden throughout the year.
As of November 2009 we've completed 6.5km of it's 8km length. You can now ride all the way up to the junction of the Nicols Creek walking track and the Moon Track, and we've started on the track to bypass the rutted track that connects to Swampy Ridge. Coming down from Swampy Ridge most of the walking track is rideable, bar a couple of short carry sections.Only the bottom 1.5km of the Switchback track is shingled, so it's best not to ride the upper section of track after rain - it gets very slippery and riding will damage the track. There are still several boardwalks to complete, and small sections of the track are unfinished, so please take care.
Maps, Images and Discussion:
Track Features: Native bush, lots of rocks, heaps of switchbacks, and generally flowing track.
Class: Intermediate going up, Beginner-Intermediate going down.
Grade: MTB track is graded an easy climb (3-6 degrees), the walking track is steeper.
Elevational Drop: 594m – 134m (460m range)
Under the wheel: Clay track, some rooty sections, shingled for the lower 800m.
When to ride: Any time after a spell of dry weather.
When not to ride: After rain (except for the lower 1.5km).
Directions going up: To get to the bottom of the track, ride up the Leith Valley to Nicols Creek (about 300m up the valley from where Islay Street turns off). The Switchback track starts on the high side of Nicols Creek. Pretty much all of the track is rideable up to the big stand of macrocarpas. Continue up the wide walking track then veer left onto the MTB track. At the top of the loop you'll come to a big Rimu tree. The MTB track above here is incomplete, so ride up the steep walking track.
Directions going down: From the Bullring, ride up the Swampy Summit track (fairly steep). Continue along the ridge down the first descending section. At the top of the next rise, turn right onto the Nicols Creek track. This is marked with a small stake and sign. If you end up descending again, then you've gone too far. Ride down the Nicols Creek track until you come to a junction with some DCC signs (you'll need to carry your bike for a small distance). At the signs, turn LEFT onto the Moon track (sign posted as the Nicols Falls track). Ride down this until you come across the MTB track. The Moon track is well used by walkers and runners, so please take care, and DO NOT SKID.
Directions walking up: (if running or going up to help with work parties):
Go up the Leith Valley road from the start of the track for 100m
Turn left up the shingle dumper track (green dash on map)
At the first clearing turn right & go down the mtb track for 20m
Turn left and go up the PD line marked with white tape (white dash on map)
Follow the white tape up to the third clearing
Follow the MTB track to the walking track
Turn right and go up the walking track
This takes 15-20min to get up to the top of the Macrocarpas. We'll develop this into a downhill line at some stage.
Contact: Hamish Seaton, 027 442 6474, activesystems[at]xtra.co.nz