“A hard slog up, but rewarded with a great downhill at the end.”
— Alan Eskrick
There may be closures in parts of Silvan Forest or along the Richmond Hills due to logging operations. Dogs are not permitted in Silvan Forest but are permitted on Richmond Hills and Involution
A great two-hour ride right from Richmond that can be shuttled or connected into a loop using nearby roads (Suffolk Road, Saxton Road, Main Road Stoke, and Salisbury Road).
Need to Know
There is no water until the creek crossings on Involution
where the water is drinkable. This can be up to two hours into the ride, so carry plenty of water on a hot day.
Ride up Champion Road to the Silvan Forest Mountainbike Park then follow the trail markers up Alpha Trail
to the top of Alpha Toru
. This is broken into sections: Alpha, Alpha Tahi
, Alpha Rua
, Alpha Toru
and Alpha Wha
(one, two, three and four in Maori).
From the top of Alpha Toru
, take the road to the left up to a locked gate. Go around the gate onto the main forestry road, Barnicoat Road
, which you go left on and descend into Raine's Saddle. Carry on straight ahead out and climb out of Raines Saddle and continue along Barnicoat Road
along the ridge top and up the final steep Barnicoat Firebreak
to another gate on the left.
Cross the gate onto a large grassy knoll which is used as a take off area for hang gliders. Cross the grass to the northeast and take Glider Road
, the 4WD road down to where it forks hard left and straight ahead. Continue straight ahead more or less on a level grade to a skid site with some bee hives on it where Widdershins
trail is signposted on the right. Widdershins
climbs on a reasonable grade to the top of Involution
The start of Involution
is marked on the left. As the name suggests, this is a twisty, winding trail that starts out with some rooty sections that gradually get more and more rocky. There are two rideable creek crossings as the trail descends through native bush. After the second creek crossing, the trail descends more steeply with numerous hairpins until it comes out onto a 4WD road.
If you have had enough, you can bail out down the road, but for more fun the trail crosses the road with more switchbacks and two more challenging creek crossings before rejoining the 4WD road. From here, it's only a few hundred meters down to Marsden Valley Road and civilization.
History & Background
A network of over 25 kilometers of intermediate grade trails has been developed in Silvan Forest by the MTB Trails Trust on private property. It's the most popular trail network in Nelson and due to its proximity to Richmond and because it dries out rapidly after wet weather. The trails are regularly maintained by the Trust.