Hogs Back Track

We took advantage of some lovely autumn weather to walk the  Hogs Back Track in the Craigieburn Forest Park, about 90km west of Christchurch on the West Coast Road (SH73).  It is a multi-use track for walkers/bikers.  It is single track, rated intermediate for mountain bikers .
With the maximum temperature around 13°C and with our day packs containing some food and some warm clothes if needed, we set off at 9.30am for our 5.5 hour trip.  This included a lunch break and plenty of stops to admire the view.

Click on any image to enlarge.

GPS-tracked route

We began our 15km out-and-back trip near Castle Hill Village, but another entry point  is at  the other end of the walk at the Texas Flat car park on the Mt Cheeseman Skifield Road.  The walk from Castle Hill starts at around 760 metres and our highest point was 1069 metres. Instead of walking all the way down to Texas Flat, we  cut off the track a little early and climbed up onto the Hogs Back Ridge for a great view.  The undulating walk passes in and out of beech forest and includes open flats and views to surrounding mountain ranges.  We started via the Hogs Back Track (see map) and completed the last part of the return journey on the Easy Up Track, which is longer and less direct than the Hogs Back Track and essentially an easier way up for mountain bikers.

 

Castle Hill Village and Torlesse  Mountain Range

After the first 20 minutes uphill through beech forest the track opens out to a view back to Castle Hill Village.

 

Looking west into the Craigieburn Range

In autumn, the mountains are usually devoid of snow but still provide some spectacular scenery. The track was dry and in good condition.

 

 

Runner on the track, looking into the northern Craigieburns

 

Regenerating beech forest, and birdsong too

 

Usnea (Old Man’s Beard lichen) hosted by a beech tree

 

Looking east into the Torlesse Range

 

Down to  Waterfall Creek

The track crosses two streams,  Long Creek which is not bridged and may involve wet feet, and then Waterfall Creek which is bridged.

 

Waterfall Creek

 

Waterfall Creek Bridge

 

Through beech forest

 

Up to Picnic Rock Lookout

 

View east to Torlesse Range from Picnic Rock Lookout

 

Castle Hill Peak  (Torlesse Mountains) and limestone formations (lower centre right)

 

Mt Cheeseman Skifield Road from Hogs Back Ridge

 

Looking north towards Craigieburn Cutting and Flock Hill, Texas Flat carpark in foreground

 

On Hogs Back Ridge

It is possible to walk further along the ridge but there was a strong wind blowing at the top, although it was calm for the rest of our time on the track.

 

View from track on the return journey

The West Coast Highway can be seen lower centre, just near Cave Stream. The Puketeraki Range is in the background.  Further limestone formations can be seen on the hillside.

 

Fly Agaric mushrooms on the Easy Up Track

Click here to see an animated version of our walk, best viewed in large.

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