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Maitland Ridge Track

 5.0 (6)
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13.2 Miles 21.3 Kilometers



3,139' 957 m


-3,136' -956 m



Avg Grade (5°)


Max Grade (19°)

4,329' 1,319 m


1,768' 539 m


Shared By Alan Eskrick



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An awesome backcountry ride that some say is the best trail they have ever ridden.

Alan Eskrick

Dogs Off-leash

Features -none-

Avoid riding in damp conditions. Dogs require a permit from the Dept of Conservation, St Arnaud.


The singletrack is a natural surface through sub-alpine native bush with many technical challenges including two sets of climbing switchbacks. There are two or three sections some people may have walk, including a steep section dropping through a number of switchbacks. This section is chock full of roots and small drop-offs to a saddle. An overlook provides extensive views down the Wairau Valley.

Need to Know

There is no water along the route until Red Hills Hut. This is an alpine route in remote country where cold temperatures can be experienced at any time of the year. Be prepared with warm clothing and wet weather gear. Be sure to grab some great coffee and pizza at the Alpine Lodge, St. Arnaud after the ride.


Park at the Upper Six Mile Creek Carpark off Highway 63 and ride west up the hill, turn right on Tophouse Rd for 800m then right up the signposted 4wd track to Beebys Knob. It starts with a challenging 600-metre climb on the 4wd road to the start of 6 miles of singletrack at 1300m elevation. The trail (Maitland Ridge) is marked with a cairn and a large orange triangle on the right where the 4wd track emerges from the bush into open tussock country. Save your legs and walk the steepest parts of the road. The MTB Trails Trust plans to construct a better-graded climbing track in 2015-2016.

The Maitland Ridge singletrack starts with a 2.5km descent to 1030m through sub-alpine beech forest to a saddle, then climbs in a series of switchbacks to a gently climbing ridge. The track passes through several tussock clearings offering views out to the surrounding country before climbing another set of switchbacks to 1202m through "Lord of the Rings" type forest.

From here, the track descends ever steeper, culminating in a technical section of steep, rooty switchbacks before reaching another saddle at 1000m. An easy graded climb through bush and low scrub is followed by a fun, rocky 120m descent through stunted mineral belt scrub to Red Hills Hut.

The Maitland Ridge singletrack ends at the Red Hills Hut where a rocky 4wd road takes riders down to the valley floor. Simply follow the orange trail markers, which will lead to another 1500 metres of rooty, challenging singletrack back to the starting point at the carpark.

History & Background

Parts of the track follow an old survey line that forms the boundary between Nelson and Marlborough. Several old wooden survey pegs placed in 1916 were found in good condition when the track was being built. They were put in by the then District Surveyor, H Maitland.


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Feb 22, 2018
Rich Frith
Nov 9, 2017
Antonio Rocha

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 6 votes


in Saint Arnaud


  5.0 from 6 votes
5 Star
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in Saint Arnaud


in New Zealand


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1,591 Since Aug 1, 2015
Difficult Difficult

The first climb is hard, get there early and get up before it gets too hot. The car park is also small, so get there early in holiday season to guarantee a space. The local MTBC have been doing some work on this trail, so look out for some extra switchbacks, looping off the first climb. It's a tough and long climb and you can cycle a good chunk of it of you've got the legs and/or sufficient low gearing. My 1 x 11, 30/46 wasn't low enough, but i'm a big 17 stone rider. The ridge itself is technical, rooty, lumpy and with trees to catch those wide handlebars. You get little respite from 100% commitment and concentration, so take a long rest at the start of the ridge trail before you commit. It's a rough, natural trail, with little in the way of 4+ grade, but it is there. There are no surprises, so an averagely skilled rider can tackle this route, but you'll need really good fitness and may have to walk a few sections. Once you reach the hut, you can top up your water and hit the 4x4 track descent. It starts off very loose and rocky, but soon descends into the woods and smooths out. The new link at the bottom is interesting, with walking required form tired legs, on some sections. I would argue that, for most riders, this would probably be a route better tackled the opposite way round. Starting on the new single track link, you then have a long steady climb through the woods till you near the steep section leading to the hut. This involves far less hike-a-biking than the listed route. Yes, you will have to hike your bike up some of the steeper sections, but most average riders will likely be walking those sections down anyway. Once on the ridge and in the woods, it's all technical rollercoaster track, so walking sections of it will be likely. The benefit f doing this track in reverse is in the finish. With the new switchback loops, you get a grand downhill, with twisty off shoots and stunning views. It's then a steady coast back to the car park for an easy finish. Feb 22, 2018
I would definitely NOT recommend riding this in reverse as Rich suggests. You would be walking most of the singletrack and miss all the fun donwhills. I am 71, have ridden this track over 30 times, and can clean the whole ride. Early this year MTB Trails Trust completed a new uphill track called Wots up Doc that takes out the steepest parts of the climb. This track will be extended in the future. Feb 25, 2018
MTB Trails Trust now has approval from DOC and private landowner to extend the Wots up Doc climbing trail up to the turn-off to Maitland Ridge Track. This will take out the majority of steep climbing. We are also constructing an easier climb at the bottom of Red Hills 4wd road out to the carpark, which will make it easier for those tired legs. Hope to have these trail improvements and extensions finished next year (2019). Jul 21, 2018

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