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 forest track off to the right, marked by a yellow pole. This is where you'll come back out from, but continue past it to do this loop as we did. Head up Trig Road until you reach a intersection with a road heading around to the right. Take this track to the right to continue on Trig Road.
Trig Road now turns into a wide forest path, which even in Winter isn't too muddy. Heading downhill, keep an eye to your right. You want to keep an eye out for a forest track marked by a small wooden bridge. It was in a large puddle of water on the day we visited after some heavy rain, but don't let that deter you even in Winter. The forest paths can be navigated without getting your feet wet if you're careful with your footing.
George and I headed over the bridge and joined one of the many motorcycle tracks. Stick to the track you enter on, as you'll see a few others off to the sides. Keep right to follow the same track we did. Once you reach a very obvious intersection of the tracks, head right again. We choose this way as it looked like the lesser evil!
Navigating your way along this track in Winter may require you to be a bit nimble. We jumped side to side to avoid the worst parts of the mud. Many others using these tracks have carved alternative routes you can take to avoid having to walk through the middle where the rain tends to pool. I love these sorts of tracks, its quite the adventure to be navigating your way along a forest track, and especially when its often just you and your dog out in the wilderness.
Soon enough we had looped back to the main gravel road, and popped out at the intersection of Barlow and Trig Road. Heading left now to head back along Barlow and back to where we parked.
This walk took us around 45mins but in the warmer months when you're not navigating the mud and torrential rain, you could do it quicker. It was 3.5kms in length.
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 > Unmarked Forest Trail > Barlow Road