Distance: 13.6 km
Time: 2.5 – 3.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 675 m
Elevation Loss: 664 m

Technical Rating: Int. – Expert
Physical Rating: Hard
Season: Year round
Permit Required: No

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This advanced loop is not for the light hearted. The climb from Brook Street, up Dun Mt Railway trail is pleasant and an intermediate ride. However, once you hit the 4WD Road “Classic”, this is where the trail turns. 2 km of steep up makes things interesting and very challenging when wet – expect to push your bike. Once you hit the carpark look for the start of the advanced (expert when wet) Fringe Downhill (FDH) trail on your left hand side. The loop consists of 86% singletrack and 14% 4WD road.

TRAILHEAD | S41 17.403 E173 17.553

The trailhead is located on Brook Street (Nelson). Look for the entrance to the trail just past the house numbered 135 – it will be a left onto a gravel road. Marked signs point you in the direction of the Tantragee Saddle, follow these to begin your climb up Dun Mt. Railway Trail.

bikepirate rating: 4 Skulls

Trail information

The Dun Mt Railway trail – first railway in New Zealand and an old tramway to Coppermine Saddle – can be taken all the way to Third House, originally a change over point for the Tramway horses, and is a must do Nelson x-country ride. The trail is an intermediate singletrack climb, winding its way up the valley. Adding the Fringe Downhill (FDH) is what makes this an advanced to expert ride, especially when wet. In February 2010, the FDH was used to to host the New Zealand Mountain Bike Cup.

If you prefer to keep things light, I would suggest staying on the Dun Mt Trail all the way to the Third House. From there you will have a few options to loop or double back the way you came. You can also choose to carry on up the Dun Mtn track past the Third House to Coppermine Saddle then down the South Branch of the Maitai Valley to the Maitai Dam. This has been rebuilt with a digger, but a few good rain storms have improved the trail somewhat.

I would advise bringing a map when venturing out, the trails in this area are not easily identified and I would hate to see you get lost. Maps can be purchased at the local shops.

Step by step directions (Dun down Fringe Downhill Loop)

  • Start on Brook Street following the sign to Tantragee Saddle.
  • Keep left on the singltrack all the way up, past the wastewater centre on right.
  • Once you hit the T-Intersection, follow the signs to Third House (staying right).
  • Continuing on the singletrack, you will cross a pedestrian bridge, do a short steep climb and come out at a viewpoint. Keep straight on the singletrack, do not go right (descent) or left (climb).
  • At about 6.8 km you’ll hit a fork in the road, with a sign pointing left to Fringed Hill. Take this road (a steep double track climb). If you’re heading to the Third House, continue right on the singletrack as marked.
  • 2.2 km later, you will have reached the carpark, just passed the gate. The start of Fringe Downhill will be on your left hand side. Look for the wooden ramp start, left behind after the 2010 NZ MTB Cup.
  • Take the Fringe Downhill descent all the way back down to Brook Street. It’s a short pedal back to your starting point from there.