Fine riding on forestry roads

Climbing Church Rd towards the top of the Kilmog, with Taiaroa Head in the background. Photo by...
Climbing Church Rd towards the top of the Kilmog, with Taiaroa Head in the background. Photo by John Fridd.
John Fridd takes you up the mighty Kilmog and beyond
Evansdale to top of Kilmog, along Mountain Track and return.

Distance: 36km.
Main climbs: 300m and 140m.
Estimated riding time: 3 hours without stops.

Note: Forestry roads Mountain Track and Joyce Rd closed to the public on weekdays 8am-6pm.


Today we'll soak up some expansive sea views as we climb to the top of the Kilmog before exploring the eastern fringes of the rugged Silver Peaks on a little-used forest road.

This is a ride you can only tackle at weekends or on long summer evenings, as the two forestry roads included are off-limits during work hours.

Prepare for some stiff climbs, as this ride is quite undulating.

Start near State Highway 1 at Evansdale - park your car near the intersection of SH1 and Warrington Rd.

Jump on your bike and head towards Warrington, veering left to stay on Coast Rd as you enter the village.

Coast Rd is signposted to Karitane and Seacliff.

The road climbs and winds through pleasant farmland, crossing the main trunk railway line four times before reaching Omimi siding and Church Rd, your turn-off point after 5.2km of riding.

Turn left on to unsealed Church Rd and start a sustained climb, which offers great views if you pause to look back to Taiaroa Head and the Otago Harbour entrance.

Eventually, you will be rewarded as the road flattens out and curls around Hammond Hill; then you'll enjoy a downhill dash to the top of the Kilmog highway.

At 9.6km from the start, cross SH1 with care and take Steep Hill Rd on the other side.

This road soon becomes Mountain Track forest road as you dive into the Silver Peaks and start heading south.

About 5.6km from the SH1 crossing, you'll encounter a fork in the road, with both routes blocked by barriers.

These keep unauthorised vehicles out of the forest, but City Forests is happy to have mountain bikers using Mountain Track at weekends or on summer evenings.

Take the right-hand (top) road and pop around the barrier to stay on Mountain Track, which offers sweeping views of the wild Silver Peaks out to the west as you wind south along the ridge-top.

After about 9.5km of undulating riding you will reach another barrier.

Here, Mountain Track swings east, becomes Semple Rd and starts plunging down towards Waitati.

About 6km from this barrier, watch closely on your left for the white barrier marking another forest track, Joyce Rd.

As you speed down Semple Rd, look out for a woolshed then sheep yards on your right - when you spot them, you'll know you are almost on the turn-off.

At the Joyce Rd turn-off there is also a sign showing that Semple Rd is morphing into Double Hill Rd.

If you're running short of time or it's getting dark, you might opt to miss the second forest track and ride straight down Double Hill Rd to SH1, then play in the traffic on the highway as you return to your car at Evansdale.

If you're staying on the official route, jump the barrier and head north on Joyce Rd, actually a grassy, gravel-based track with more downs than ups which winds through a farm-forestry area.

Leave gates as you find them and be prepared to encounter the odd sheep or cow.

Stay on the main track for about 5km, until you reach the barrier at the other end.

You'll emerge on to Jones Rd, which plunges down to Evansdale and your starting point.

To find out what the AOK Social Riders are up to, Google MTB Otago and go to "forum", then "AOK Social Riders".

All riders are welcome to join the Dunedin-based Saturday afternoon rides.

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