Riverhead Forest - Gun Range Loop
Walk status: Off-lead
Saturday morning after a week of torrential rain, George and I headed out to the forest with the intention of just walking the main gravel tracks to try and stay reasonably clean!
Little did I realise until we got there that there happened to be a running event taking place that morning. Entering via Foresty Road, we made our way through the runners as best as possible and reached Link Road which is where the main track forks off in a few different directions. The runners were heading along one of the forest paths opposite the swimming hole, so George and I headed up the hill towards the gun range.
After heading up the main gravel track for a short distance up the hill, you'll soon reach a fork in the road where you can continue to head up the hill (which takes you to Blake Road - where is where the Goldilocks walk pops out) or you can head off to the left fork towards the gun range. We've walked this track before but never made it to the end due to the noise of the guns being a bit much for George, but I believe this is actually how you access the gun range so be cautious of cars possibly using this route.
The day George and I walked this route, the gun noise was really loud. Usually he's not too phased by it, but he was a little unsure about it on this day and stuck pretty close to me. If you have a dog thats particularly fearful of loud noises, this is not the walk for you. If you're really keen to explore the tracks around this area, and there are a few, check out the gun ranges activity calendar and plan your trip for times in the day when they aren't using it. I've provided a link to their website below.
Upon realising the gun noise was getting too loud for George, we either had the option to turn around or take a forest track that was to the right of the main path. Realising George could probably do with a bath anyway, we chose the forest route. Surprisingly it wasn't that bad, there are certainly forest walks that are a lot worse to navigate the muddy spots. There were only two on the day we went (although this was in summer) but both were easily avoided by stepping round the edges. The track is uphill, but a very gentle incline so easily managed.
The track eventually pops out Blake Road. If you turn right upon reaching Blake Road, you'll soon reach another fork in the road. If you head right at the fork this leads you back down the main track you started on and back past the waterhole and along Foresty Road to complete the walk. This walk took around an hour and 20 minutes and was around 6kms. We walk at a casual pace so you could do it quicker or slower depending on your pace.
You can combine this walk with Goldilocks (see this post). Continuing straight on Blake Road rather than turning right, and taking the next forest track on the right (which is about a 5 min walk up the road) loops you onto the walk we named Goldilocks which will also lead you back to where you started but will give you a bit more of an adventurous walk through more of the forest.
Location: Foresty Road entrance, located off Deacon Road
Carparking is good here as the road isn't a main road, so most people will just park up near the entrance.
Things to know:
Gun Range: http://www.deerstalkers.co.nz/range
There are no toilets here
The gate is locked to vehicles, but walkers and bike riders still have access
Sometimes vehicles are given access to head up to areas of the forest, so there may be a long line of cars facing the gate. They usually wait there to be let in, so just park out of their way and watch out for them when they are allowed access through the gate. There is a slow speed limit, but listen out for cars just in case.
Foresty Road > Forest Trail > Blake Road > Deacon Road > Foresty Road