This dual walking and cycling trail is suitable for the whole family. The trail takes you along the true right bank of the powerful Clutha Mata-au River between Alexandra and Clyde.
Distance: 12 km one way
Fitness / Experience: Beginner – Intermediate
The trail is generally flat with a good surface but it can become a little loose or dusty in summer, especially on the narrower, single-track sections. Be prepared for some short, slightly rocky sections and a few exposed tree roots. The trail can also be prone to flooding after heavy rain.
This is a two-way track and can be busy at times, so expect to encounter other cyclists, walkers, joggers and even horse riders coming the other way. Cyclists please slow down and be aware of blind corners, ring your bell to alert others to your approach, and please give way to walkers.
The trail is only suitable for wheelchair and pushchair access for a short distance from the car parks at each end, until the trail narrows.
At the Alexandra end of the trail there are a number of bridges and elevated boardwalks, where it’s recommended young children or less experienced cyclists dismount and push their bikes.
The trail can be ridden year-round, but is especially pleasant in the height of summer when the dappled shade from the willow trees is appreciated.
From the Alexandra end, start at the car park on Poplar Crescent, signposted 300 metres along Earnscleugh Road from SH8. Alternatively, you can start from the Alexandra Bridge if that is more convenient.
The trail follows the river upstream through the historic Earnscleugh Tailings. This area was extensively dredged in the early 1900’s and yielded tons of gold. It was hard, noisy work compared to the peaceful place it is today. You might notice the marked changes in the gravel heaps reflecting the improvements in dredge technology and you also might notice scattered through this wilderness some remaining artefacts. This area is special and regarded as an ‘outside museum’ so please admire but do not touch. The Tailings are protected and are on conservation land.
Linger for a while in the delightful historic township of Clyde – it is well worth a visit. Take time to browse the local shops, stop for an ice cream or a coffee from a local cafe before commencing your journey back to Alexandra, either back along the river track, or you can link to the Otago Central Rail Trail.
The rail trail is a shorter, more direct route (only 9km) taking you past orchards, vineyards and farmland. Orchard Gardens and Hintons Estate Cellar Door offer a leisurely break enroute or just take time to admire the stunning views of the Old Man Range.