Altitude: 379m to 1257m. Gain: 1387m. Loss: 2240m . Gradient: 9 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Occasional rivers (3/6)
A marked / cut track runs up the Albert Burn diminishing to a route in the upper valley.
From the top flats below the Albert Saddle river gravels / tussock flats provide reasonable travel downstream until the valley narrows and the burn drops to the forks in a series of falls. A small cairn on the true left (west) bank marks the spot 200m above the falls where it is time to climb away from the river on the true left and climb to a saddle between an outlying knob (pt1269) and a spur descending from the range to the west. Beyond this point a line of bluffs drop 100m to the main valley below. Cut right from the saddle and descend the dry gully NW of pt1269, cutting to your left to avoid dropping into the gorge. Intermittent cairns help identify the route through rampant speargrass to the forks below.
Stick to the true left and sidle above and initial gorge. Either descend the steep scrubby spur to the next flats below or climb 80m and sidle above scrub and bluffs, dropping as soon as possible to clear faces above the river. About 1km below the forks a poled route starts on the true left, 40m-or-so above the river. I missed the start of this and did a lot of scrub-bashing as a result, so nose around for it.
The poled route sidles high before dropping to the next flats and entering true bush, where the cut track commences. The track was well maintained through bush (2019) but uncut through toetoe clearings and slips - and hard to pick up again on the far side of each. The river descends into a spectacular gorge with a series of waterfalls. The track finally drops to large open grassy flats below the last of these 5km from the top forks.
A good sidle track follows the true left of the valley from here, climbing initially to a spur and descending to the forks 1km below the flats. Due to erosion it is currently necessary to cross and recross the main river (knee deep in normal flows) as well as the side creek (ankle deep in normal flows) at these forks - the double crossing of the main river can only be avoided by a steep loose scramble.
A further 4km of good bush sidle track leads through open bush above a river of deep pools and gentle rapids. At the next main flats another two (knee deep in normal flows) side creeks are crossed below an impressive slip-face. From the start of clearings here it is an easy 3km stroll through alternating bush and clearings down river flats to Albert Burn Hut. The hut is high on a terrace on the north bank - well off the track and easy to miss.