Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Category: Dual Purpose Track (tramping/MTB)
Weather: Some light rain, but otherwise mainly fine with a high of 14.
Location: Pureora Forest
Distance: Official distance: 85km, distance from my garmin: 80.6km
The Taupo Mountain Bike Club set out to do the Timber Trail, 85km, in a single day back in mid-May. Typically users start in Pureora and travel the 85km Southwest to Ongarue. We were no different. The journey started with about an hours drive from Taupo to get to the trail head. We quickly assembled our bikes and donned our packs before darting off. As we were getting picked up by Tread Routes on this point to point track we had already scheduled a pickup time as there is almost no mobile coverage on the track. This track is a prime candidate to take a PLB or SPOT unit out on. For several of us, this would be the first time riding the entire length of the trail, but for a few of the riders it marked a repeated effort. Their insight helped out as the profile doesn't do the trail justice and they could pick out features to regroup along the track. If you're in doubt that you are still on the track you'll be able to follow the km markers that line the trail. If you start at Pureora they count up. And if you start in Ongarue they count down. There are a few fire roads that you either cross or follow for a little bit, but the track is well marked.
Leaving Pureora, we gently climbed for approximately 14km gaining over 400m of elevation. The first few km we were in dense bush, but we transitioned quickly to some exposed brush track. We had to cross over several fire roads in this first section, but at approximately 9 km there is a small shelter where we regrouped. After topping out at 955m, we had a quick descent basically all the way to Piropiro, the approximate half-way point and huge campground area. On our way to Piropiro, we started to cross several of the 35 cable suspension bridges that will be traversed throughout the track. These range from very short to man that is a long way across. We also passed by a track to Bog Inn Hut for those that wish to make the trip longer.
We regrouped and had lunch at the Piropiro Campground. After Piropiro, you best have your climbing legs as the elevation profile is deceptive and the climb never seems to end. At about 65km in you come to the Ongarue Spiral, an engineering marvel left over from the days of the locomotive, which is the start of a wicked fast decent. The last few km are flat and wind through some paddocks. Once you get to the end of the trail, you can turn left to a parking lot or turn right and ride a few extra km into the town.
Along the track there are a few small shelters and a couple toilets, but I didn't see any easy water supplies other than at the beginning at Pureora campsite where there was running water. So you might be able to get to the stream to top off your water, but your best bet is to bring everything you may need as its a remote trail and once you start on the section between Piropiro and Ongarue you can either finish or turn back as there are no connecting tracks to a quicker exit.