Glider Road offers straight-forward access to the top of Barnicoat Range and MTB single tracks Widdershins and Involution. The road is a good uphill challenge and the 605 m elevation summit offers expansive views over Tasman Bay and the ranges of Mt Richmond Forest Park. The grassy summit is used as a take-off point for paragliders (hence the road’s name).
|Length: 4.2 km one way||Time Required: 45 min – 1 hr going up (walking)|
|Trail Type: 4WD road||Physical Difficulty: Moderate-Hard|
|Uses: Walking, running and MTB||Primary Direction: Either|
|Start Elevation: 150 m||Finish Elevation: 605 m|
|Links to: Involution, Widdershins, Barnicoat Walkway, Jenkins Hill Road, Barnicoat Range Road|
The start of Glider Road is 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 road is closed to all public vehicles except those who have an access key, so you are unlikely to encounter any vehicles, but be cautious nonetheless.
Glider Road sidles up the western slopes of Barnicoat Range, following its curvature in and out of gullies and passing through plantation blocks of radiata pine, eucalyptus and Douglas fir (Ngawhatu Forest). The average gradient is 11%. To begin the trail, cross the bridge immediately to the right of the quarry entrance and pass the barrier gate. Follow the road to the right as it crosses Poorman Stream. From this point it is almost entirely uphill, with a reasonably consistent gradient all the way to the top. After 750 m Barnicoat Walkway branches off steeply to the left.
After another 500 m a tiny creek is crossed as the road rounds the head of a gully and reaches a skid site. A further 1 km on the road rounds the head of another gully, before climbing for 600 m to a second skid site. A little beyond here the road cuts back to the north and emerges alongside the open grassed top. You can follow the road as it loops around to the summit, or take one of the well-worn shortcuts that goes straight up the grass (though it is best not to do this when paragliders are in action). There is a longdrop toilet and picnic table at the top, but no water.
On the return leg, you can continue north along Glider Road as it heads north to meet the uphill end of Barnicoat Walkway and Jenkins Hill Road. This is also where Widdershins single track begins; for many mountain bikers Glider Road is just the painful grind necessary to reach Widdershins and Involution MTB tracks, the latter two being where the real enjoyment is had. You can also continue south along Barnicoat Range to Richmond, or drop down into the Roding Valley to the east.
|Return to Marsden Valley via||Distance and Time (Walking)|
|Widdershins and Involution||11.5 km, 2 hr|
|Barnicoat Walkway||7 km, 1 hr 30 min hr|