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.
Parking here is ample, but the entrance can be easily missed. Located off Ararimu Valley Road, the entrance 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".
Heading straight up Barlow Road which is the main gravel track you reach a fork in the road with a large gravel pile. Head right to follow Trig Road. Note that shortly after turning right, there is a road off to the left. There is where you'll come back out from, but continue past it to do this loop. Heading up Trig Road is a bit of a hike up a hill, but manageable. If I can do it, you can!
Reaching an intersection of forest path and road at the top of the hill (marked by a yellow pole), we headed left to head onto the forest trail and what would lead us to the marked tracks of the 'Patterson' trails. We stuck to the main wide trail which leads you nicely down the hill and eventually to the point where its signposted Patterson 1. All the Patterson trails lead to the same place, so you could choose to walk any of them.
Patterson 1 gently curves through the forest and down the hill and is mostly a well formed track, covered in pine needles which means it wasn't too muddy when we came through. The trail is for the motorbike club so there are a couple of hazard areas to be aware of and a few steep spots that just need careful navigating so you don't slip. Although it wasn't too muddy the ground underneath is clay so can be quite slippery.
After coming down the hill we were soon faced with tracks heading in all directions and I wasn't entirely sure that we were on Patterson 1 track anymore. Checking the GPS, I headed along the trails I believed would bring me back to the main gravel track we had passed earlier. You could attempt to walk any of these tracks and you'd end up on a main gravel track eventually, but if you want to save yourself the concern of getting lost, just get your GPS working at the start of the walk and track where you're heading.
I soon discovered we hadn't been walking the Patterson 1 track after all, as when we popped out onto the road, the sign said Patterson 2. Reaching the main track, we headed left to head back to the main intersection and back along Barlow Road to the car.
I wasn't sure how I was going to explain this walk when I wasn't even sure where I went myself. However, upon doing a bit of research when I got home, I discovered the Patterson trails are well marked on Trail Forks and it does a better job of explaining the track than I can. You can check it out here: Patterson 1 Trail
This walk took 1.5 hours but I was slow strolling for most of the way (it was a Sunday after all), and 5.17kms in distance.
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 > Trig Road > Patterson Trails > Barlow Road