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The Dun Mountain Trail follows the route of New Zealand´s first railway, used to transport minerals from the eastern slopes of the Wooded Peak over 150 years ago. The 38 km trail loops between Brook Valley and the Maitai Valley and is an intermediate, Grade 3 mountain bike ride. Dun Mountain peak rises to 1,129m and is one of the most distinctive mountains around Nelson. But don't worry, the trail doesn't head that high, topping out at 'only' 878m.
The Climb to Coppermine Saddle (17 km)
The trail follows the original railway alignment through the Codgers Mountainbike Park and takes in pine forst and recently harvested land to reach native forest before reaching Bullock Spur. The alignment continues through regenerating forest to Cummings Spur Crossing and from here the trail climbs gradually through mature beech forest, eventually reaching the site of Third House at 660m.
The trail continues to Junction Saddle when the old railway alignment joins the main ridge. Continuing past Junction Saddle, the trail climbs steadily through stunning beech forest all the way to the site of Fourth House. After Coads Creek is crossed a you'll see a change in vegetation. It changes from mature forest to the stunted manuka and shrubland of the 'mineral belt.' This infertile, distinctly-coloured landform is also found in Otago and in several places between St Arnaud and D'urville Island. The single track takes you all the way from here to Coppermine Saddle (at 878m) for some great views of the Richmond Range and down to the Maitai Valley. Pat yourself on the back - the hard part is done.
The Descent to Nelson (21 km)
It´s mostly downhill from here! The first five kilometers are the most technical, but the flowing, gravel single track will put a big smile on your face and the landscape is amazing too. The lower section gets a little steeper as your descend into Scianders Creek but then levels out into some nice smooth single track on the approach to Maitai Dam. Along the track you'll find several well researched and beautifully presented interpretive panels that capture the human and natural history of the area.
Continue following the track down river alongside the Nelson water pipeline, and then join onto Maitai Valley Road. This will take you all the way back into Nelson, ending on some urban cycleways into the city.
There is an optional (but recommended) alternative route back into town, which completes the circuit back to Brook St. For this option, cross the river just past the Maitai Motorcamp and take the Groom Creek trail back to Trantragee Saddle and back to Brook St just up from town. You can then follow the start of the trail back into town.
The Dun Mountain trail is one of the most accessible alpine, back-country trails in the country, and can be finished off with the urban comforts of Nelson at the day's end.