Riverhead Forest - Barlow Road
Walk status: Off-lead
Barlow Road is home to the Waitemata Motorcycle Club which means there are a myriad of tracks to explore here, but all of them you'll want your GPS to navigate anything off the main track.
Parking here is ample, but the entrance can be easily missed. Located off Ararimu Valley Road, there are two entrances that adjoin each other but I found the second the easiest which is just before the bridge and the turn off to Zanders Road. On Google Maps you can see the area marked as "MTB Carpark Riverhead Forest". Just before you reach the bridge and Zanders Road, turn into the gravel road on the right hand side. Note if you happen to enter on the first entrance which is located opposite 465 Ararimu Valley Road, this entrance is very rough with large dips so if you're coming off the 80km road at full speed you're going to hit some trouble. The other entrance is much smoother and a much better option especially when you have other cars following closely behind you.
Having walked here before, I knew Map My Dog walk was a bit temperamental with only 3G at the entrance, so I opened the app as I turned into Ararimu Valley Road so it loaded while I was still driving and then worked fine when I started the walk at the entrance. We had little Miss Maisy joining us on this walk.
Heading straight up Barlow Road which is the main gravel track you reach a fork in the road. Left leads you down Anzac Road (see other post listing details of this walk), right continues on Barlow. We went right this time to carry along Barlow. You'll come to another fork in the road shortly after turning right, but you'll want to keep heading straight for this particular walk.
There is a gradual hill, but nothing too strenuous. If you take a look at the GPS mapping ive included in the photos you can see we intended to do a loop. Unfortunately due to having to be somewhere else later in the day, I had to cut this walk short and just return the way we came.
To start the loop, you'll want to head up the gradual hill until you reach the path that leads off to the right. This is more of a forest track than the main gravel path. This is mostly downhill, so if you follow the same path that we did and turn back, you'll be having to head up hill on the way home!
After making your way down the hill you'll reach a fork in the road. What looks to be straight ahead is actually going to lead you back to Ararimu Valley Road. You can choose to cut the walk short and walk along the main road back to the carpark at this point if you choose, or head left at the fork which is the continuation of the trail.
Heading up a small hill again you come to another fork, separated by a row of trees. Here is where we stopped and turned around, but I believe to carry on the loop you'd want to take the track on the left hand side.
All up this walk took us an hour and it was 5kms in distance. I'd assume to complete the full loop its possibly around 7kms all up.
Location: Barlow Road entrance, located off Ararimu Valley Road
Carparking is good here, there is a small gravel lay by.
Things to know:
There are no toilets here
The gate is locked to vehicles, but walkers and bike riders still have access.
Barlow Road > Unnamed Forest Track > Barlow Road