Barnicoat Scout Track
Scout Track is a walking track that climbs from the head of Marsden Valley to connect with Involution near the top of Barnicoat Range. Known for being steep and a bit rough, Scout Track goes more or less straight to the top of range, meaning the uphill gradient is unforgiving. Consequently its physical difficulty is rated as hard, and the track is only suitable for walking. Nonetheless, it provides an enjoyable challenge through beautiful native bush surrounds, and can be combined with nearby trails to provide a good-length loop.
|Length: 2.4 km (from Marsden Valley Rd to top of range – includes some of Involution)||Time Required: 1 hr going up|
|Trail Type: Walking track||Physical Difficulty: Moderate-Hard|
|Uses: Walking and running||Primary Direction: Either|
|Start Elevation: 150 m||Finish Elevation: 715 m|
|Links to: Involution, Widdershins, Jenkins Hill Road|
The start of Scout Track is only a 5 minute drive from Stoke up Marsden Valley Road. At the end of Marsden Valley Road there is a small car park on the right, just before the quarry. Here you will find an information panel with a map and details on trail times and distances. There is also plenty of room to park alongside the road.
The easiest way to reach the start of Scout Track is by following the road to the weir; rather than turning right and following Glider Road over Poorman Stream Bridge, follow the road straight up the valley. You can also reach the start by following the road to the weir and turning right onto the Loop Track, which crosses Poorman Stream. The Loop Track turns to the right to head back down the valley; turn left instead to get onto the Scout Track.
At the weir you will find a steep slope with a rope to help you up onto the track. Scramble up this slope and follow the track as it climbs steeply up the range through a mix of native bush, including kānuka. The track is rough in places so good footwear is necessary. This section lasts nearly 800 m (taking into account the slope) until Involution is reached, at 595 m elevation. Involution has effectively replaced the upper portion of the Scout Track, though the latter does continue straight uphill, intersecting Involution as it winds back and forth down the hill slope. You can take either track for the remaining distance to the top of the range, though if you are taking Involution be very mindful of bikers coming down the track. Jenkins Hill Road is reached at the top of the range (715 m elevation).
To return to Marsden Valley, there are several options; you can head back down Barnicoat Walkway or Glider Road, via Widdershins. Alternatively, you can head back down the way you came, though instead of going back down the Scout Track, continue down Involution for a gentler downhill gradient.