Walk status: Off-lead/On-lead
Upon entering the Lake entrance, you drive alongside the Lake to your right. All of this area directly alongside the lake is officially off limits for doggies, even on-lead. The road carries on for quite a distance, and you want to head right to the end to start this walk. There are plenty of other opportunities to park here, but the dead end is actually one of the best spots to park as it gives access to a few different walks and most of the tourists and locals park nearer the lake so its usually pretty quiet.
This end gives access to a few of the bridle trails, the track to Hydro Road, the loop around the Lake and also one of the best lookout points to see Mt Taranaki. Just before the end of the road is a metal gate to your left, this is where you'll enter, but carry on to the end of the road for easier parking out of the way of others.
The start of the track is blocked by a metal gate so no access to vehicles which makes it a nice walk off lead. Checking in with the group from TEN (Equestrian Network) who operate these trails along with the council, we have permission to be off-lead as long as you're respectful of other users. Horses take priority here, so please put your dog on a lead if you're approaching them to keep everyone safe. The council signage at the earlier float carpark entrance isn't clear for the bridle trails as it basically implies your dog can be off lead even though the rule is on-lead everywhere else, but please only do so if you're confident you have good control so as not to ruin it for others.
Upon entering through the metal gate you're greeted by a pine needle covered walkway. You'll follow this main track all the way to the end to Hydro Road so don't take any of the side tracks in this instance. Hydro Road track eventually leads along a small grass pathway until you reach what looks like farm paddocks. There is a large sign at the metal gate showing you you're at the end of Lake Mangamahoe, but shows a track continuing through the Hydro Road. Although the metal gate wasn't locked, its hard to know if this is officially walkable as it does feel like you're intruding on personal land. George and I turned back, heading the same way we had come but upon reaching the main sign on the bridle trail, took a turn left which looks to point to the Northern Carpark which is where we parked.
Heading up this track, you soon reach a fork in the track. It's at this point you need to decide if you truly want to walk Heart Attack hill, or turn back now. I stood at that intersection for a few minutes but due to my stubbornness of not wanting to walk the same path twice, I turned right and headed up the hill. This track is a bike downhill track designed for speed. I was barely putting one foot in front of the other going up, so im not built for any kind of speed! I was walking this track in the evening after work and had established there wasn't really anyone around at the time, otherwise I wouldn't have risked walking it. Stick to the bridle trails if you're unsure if others are using the tracks. You don't want to encounter a bike coming down that hill.
Once you finally make it to the top of the hill, it actually ends up being a nice walk through long grass and well established trees. Follow the track until you start heading down hill. At this point you'll need to put your dog back on lead as you're not technically walking the bridle trails anymore and nearing the carpark and lake. Upon reaching the bottom of the downhill you're back at the Northern carpark. You can choose to end the walk here, or take the short walk to the left to head to the lookout point for a possible view of the mountain if the weather is on your side!
You can walk this loop in either direction, however the hill at the end although less extreme, is still a hill so either way you have to tackle a hill at some point. Although I imagine Heart Attack Hill is a lot easier to go down than it was to go up!
Location: Lake Mangamahoe, entrance opposite Kent Road
Carparking is good here
Things to know:
There are toilets here, but only at the entrance by the main road
Dogs are not allowed to be off-lead or within 200m of the Lake