3.8 miles
2,387 ft
-1,230 ft
Avg time
Trail Supporters, Builders & Maintainers of Nicols Creek - Switchback Track Trail
  • Hamish Seaton
    since 2005


  • Riding area
  • AKA
    Switchback Track, Nicols Falls
  • Difficulty rating
  • Trail type
  • Bike type
    AM, XC
  • Trail Usage
    Biking Primary
  • Direction
    Both Directions
  • Climb Difficulty
  • Physical rating
  • Season
    All year
  • TTFs on trail
    Berm, Bridge, Rock Face, Skinny
  • Ride in rain
  • Global Ranking
  • Year Opened
  • Land Manager
    Dunedin City Council

The Switchback track at Nicols Creek links Swampy Summit to the Leith Valley. It's designed to be ridden both up and down. In 2013 the entire completed section of track was gravelled. There are several boardwalks and the track is a technically challenging descent. It has steep banks on its edges, so please take care. Always watch out for other riders / walkers when descending.

Built by Hamish Seaton (Track Guru) Mountain biking Otago, with assistance from the Corrections Department, it's designed to be ridden both up and down. In 2013 the entire completed section of track was gravelled. There are several boardwalks and the track is technical so please take care.
MBO have completed 7.5km of it's 8km length. You can now ride all the way up to the junction of the Nicols Creek walking track and the Moon Track, and we've started on the track to bypass the rutted track that connects to Swampy Ridge. Coming down from Swampy Ridge most of the walking track is rideable, bar a couple of short carry sections. It gets very muddy and riding will damage the rough walking track.

Track Features: Native bush, lots of rocks, heaps of switchbacks, and generally flowing track.
Class: Intermediate.
Grade: MTB track is graded an easy climb (3-6 degrees), the walking track is steeper.
Elevational Drop: 594m – 134m (460m range)
Under the wheel: Gravelled track, some rocky / rooty sections.
When to ride: Any time, best after a spell of dry weather.
When not to ride: After heavy rain.

Directions going up: To get to the bottom of the track, ride up the Leith Valley to Nicols Creek (about 300m up the valley from where Islay Street turns off). The Switchback track starts on the high side of Nicols Creek. About half way up there is a big stand of macrocarpas. Continue up the wide walking track then veer left onto the MTB track. At the top of the track you will come to a dug out section where we will build a cork screw, out to a clearing and a fabulous view of Dunedin City.

Directions for connecting from Swampy Summit - going down:

From the Bullring, ride up the Swampy Summit track (fairly steep). Continue along the ridge down the first descending section. At the top of the next rise, turn right onto the Nicols Creek track. This is marked with a small stake and sign. If you end up descending again, then you've gone too far. Ride down the Nicols Creek track until you come to a junction with some DCC signs (you'll need to carry your bike for a small distance). At the signs, turn LEFT onto the Moon track (sign posted as the Nicols Falls track). Ride down this until you come across the MTB track. The Moon track is well used by walkers and runners, so please take care, and DO NOT SKID.

Directions walking up: (if running or going up to help with work parties):

Go up the Leith Valley road from the start of the track for 100m
Turn left up the shingle dumper track (green dash on map)
At the first clearing turn right & go down the mtb track for 20m
Turn left and go up the PD line marked with white tape (white dash on map)
Follow the white tape up to the third clearing
Follow the MTB track to the walking track
Turn right and go up the walking track
This takes 15-20min to get up to the top of the Macrocarpas. We'll develop this into a downhill line at some stage.

Access Info

From George St, head up Malvern St to branch right onto Leith Valley Rd. The trail starts about 300m past Islay St, just over a small white road bridge.

Local Trail Association
trail association logo
Mountain Biking Otago (www.mountainbikingotago.co.nz)
Please consider joining or donating to the local riding association to support trail development & maintenance.
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More Stats for Nicols Creek - Switchback Track mountain bike trail
  • Altitude change
    1,157 ft
  • Altitude min
    445 ft
  • Altitude max
    1,602 ft
  • Altitude start
    445 ft
  • Altitude end
    1,602 ft
  • Grade
  • Grade max
  • Grade min
  • Distance climb
    2.0 miles
  • Distance down
    1.2 miles
  • Distance flat
    3,240 ft
  • Avg time
  • view trail stats
on Sep 2, 2016
Avg: 4.45 (12 votes)

view (11)
Layers winter
Map Style
Trail Style
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update trails status or condition

Nicols Creek -... Trail Reports

Sep 2, 2016 @ 10:39pm
Sep 2, 2016
reporter One or two puddles but otherwise super dry and running mint!
Aug 14, 2016 @ 3:00pm
Aug 14, 2016
As always, a great winter trail. A few muddy sections in the open corners, and VERY sticky in the new section about 1/2 way up-go around via the...
Mar 11, 2016 @ 8:54pm
Mar 11, 2016
view all reports »


more »
43 |
Aug 7, 2016 @ 1:21am
Aug 7, 2016
Nicols Creek - Switchback Track
71 |
Jul 19, 2016 @ 1:41am
Jul 19, 2016
Nicols Creek - Switchback Track
100 |
Mar 11, 2016 @ 8:55pm
Mar 11, 2016
Nicols Creek - Switchback Track
153 |
Nov 25, 2015 @ 11:09am
Nov 25, 2015
Nicols Creek - Switchback Track

1 Review & Comments

  • + 1
flag dutchct Plus (Oct 12, 2014 at 22:22)
 Best climbing trail I've ever ridden, decent is pretty good too!

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Nichols Creek, Dunedin - Night run
319 | Aug 13, 2014 Nicols Creek - Switchback Track
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