Altitude: 679m to 1002m. Gain: 129m. Loss: 387m . Gradient: 10 deg (Moderate)
At the roadend, the shelter housing the information board has been sites to form an archway over the start of the track. A doorway from the barren, light, post-forestry desolation to the west into the dimly lit, verdant Whirinaki forest beyond.
The first 200m beyond are common between the Upper Whirinaki track and Central Whirinaki cycleway, and so are flat, broad, well cut and well marked. The track junction features not just a signpost, but an intentions book - though this was saturated and unusable when I visited. The right fork leads to Upper Whirinaki Hut.
The track is rough but well cut and well marked. It climbs to a low ridgeline, which it then follows through tall podocarp: totora and rimu with bases broader than my arm's reach. Despite the giant trees, the ridgeline is narrow, climbing ad falling its way over a series of peaks and saddles. After almost 2km of ups and downs, the ridge ends and the track descends a well defined spur to the river - a steep decent of almost 300m.
A signpost on the river bank marks the junction with a rough route downriver to the cave, where it rejoins the Central Whirinaki cycleway.