4 miles
2,213 ft
-1,060 ft
Avg time
Trail Supporters, Builders & Maintainers of Nicols Creek - Switchback Track Trail
  • Hamish Seaton
    since 2005


  • Riding area
    Leith Valley
  • 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
More Stats for Nicols Creek - Switchback Track mountain bike trail
  • Altitude change
    1,156 ft
  • Altitude min
    445 ft
  • Altitude max
    1,601 ft
  • Altitude start
    445 ft
  • Altitude end
    1,601 ft
  • Grade
  • Grade max
  • Grade min
  • Distance climb
    2 miles
  • Distance down
    1 miles
  • Distance flat
    937 ft
  • Avg time
  • Avg reverse time
  • view trail stats
on Aug 20, 2018
Avg: 4.65 (12 votes)

view (189)
Layers winter
Trail Style
  • ?
Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
Directions to nicols-creek-switchback-track trailhead (-45.832580, 170.499850)
update trails status or condition

Nicols Creek -... Trail Reports

Aug 20, 2018 @ 7:30pm
Aug 20, 2018
Running well, greasy patches near the top
Jun 20, 2018 @ 3:23pm
Jun 20, 2018
Mostly dry....gets a bit muddy at the top
Jun 20, 2018 @ 3:22pm
Jun 20, 2018
Mostly dry...gets a bit muddy at the top
Jun 20, 2018 @ 3:22pm
Jun 20, 2018
Mostly dry. At the top it gets a bit muddy.
Apr 24, 2018 @ 8:26pm
Apr 24, 2018
Dry most of the way up, only muddy right at the top.
view all reports »


more »
135 |
Feb 16, 2018 @ 7:28pm
Feb 16, 2018
Nicols Creek - Switchback Track
116 |
Feb 16, 2018 @ 7:28pm
Feb 16, 2018
Nicols Creek - Switchback Track
73 |
Dec 8, 2017 @ 1:32pm
Dec 8, 2017
Nicols Creek - Switchback Track
87 |
Dec 2, 2017 @ 2:18am
Dec 2, 2017
Nicols Creek - Switchback Track

Routes with this trail

Emersons 3 Peaks Day 1 2017 race
16 miles
Dunedin Enduro Series 2017 Pineapple race
10 miles

4 Reviews & Comments

  • + 1
flag BCpov Plus (Oct 12, 2014 at 22:22)
 Best climbing trail I've ever ridden, decent is pretty good too!
  • + 1
flag punkture (Dec 30, 2017 at 0:31)
 A genius piece of artwork and engineering....if only it went for 85km....hmmmmm
  • + 1
flag saffaclint (Apr 24, 2018 at 20:28)
 Great climbing trail! Hard work for Ann unfit fat guy but I made it to the top and then had a blast coming back down.
  • + 2
flag bikehq MCMTBC (Jun 4, 2018 at 0:55)
 Great climbing trail, one of the best in the country!

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Nichols Creek, Dunedin - Night run
778 | Aug 13, 2014 , Dunedin
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