4 miles
1,317 ft
-173 ft
Avg time
Trail Supporters, Builders & Maintainers of Nicols Creek - Switchback Track Trail
  • Hamish Seaton
    since 2005


  • Activities
    • Mountain Bike
    • E-Bike
    • Hike
    • Trail Running
  • Riding Area
    Leith Valley
  • AKA
    Switchback Track, Nicols Falls
  • Difficulty Rating
  • Hiking SAC Scale
    T2 Mountain Hiking
  • Trail Type
  • Bike Type
    AM, XC
  • Trail Usage
    Biking Primary
  • Direction
    Both Directions
  • Climb Difficulty
  • Physical Rating
  • Trail Visibility
    Always easy to follow
  • Season
    All year
  • Dogs Allowed
  • eBike Allowed
  • TTFs on Trail
    Berm, Bridge, Rock Face
  • Ride in Rain
  • Global Ranking
    #12208 in Mountain Biking
  • Local Popularity
    65 in Mountain Biking [+]
    • 80 in E-Biking
    • 5 in Trail Running
    • 5 in Hiking
  • 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.

More Stats for Nicols Creek - Switchback Track bike trail
  • Altitude change
    1,147 ft
  • Altitude min
    450 ft
  • Altitude max
    1,597 ft
  • Altitude start
    450 ft
  • Altitude end
    1,598 ft
  • Grade
  • Grade max
  • Grade min
  • Distance climb
    3 miles
  • Distance down
    3,373 ft
  • Distance flat
    2,733 ft
  • Avg time
  • Avg reverse time
  • view trail stats
on Jan 4, 2019
Avg: 4.7 (13 votes)

view (368)
Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Groomed
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
Trail Ridden Direction
Trailforks scans users ridelogs to determine the most popular direction each trail is ridden. A good flowing trail network will have most trails flowing in a single direction according to their intension.
The colour categories are based on what percentage of riders are riding a trail in its intended direction.
  • > 96%
  • > 90%
  • > 80%
  • > 70%
  • > 50%
  • < 50%
Trail Last Ridden
Trailforks scans ridelogs to determine the last time a trail was ridden.
  • < 2 days
  • < 1 week
  • < 2 weeks
  • < 1 month
  • < 6 months
  • > 6 months
Trail Ridden Direction
The intended direction a trail should be ridden.
  • Downhill Only
  • Downhill Primary
  • Both Directions
  • Uphill Primary
  • Uphill Only
  • One Direction
Colors indicate trail is missing specified detail.
  • Description
  • Photos
  • Description & Photos
  • Videos
Trail Popularity ?
Trailforks scans ridelogs to determine which trails are ridden the most in the last 9 months. Trails are compared with nearby trails in the same city region with a possible 25 colour shades. Think of this as a heatmap, more rides = more kinetic energy = warmer colors.
  • most popular
  • popular
  • less popular
  • not popular

Trail Difficulties
  • Access Road/Trail
  • White
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Black
  • Double Black Diamond

Trail Report Status
  • Clear / Green
  • Minor Issue / Yellow
  • Significant Issue / Amber
  • Closed

  • Land Owner Overlay
  • Wilderness (typically no bikes in USA)
  • BLM (public)
  • USFS (Wildlife sanctuaries darker than usfs)
  • State land
  • Indigenous
  • Military
Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Groomed
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
  • Map Markers
  • trail Trail Head
  • photo Photo
  • place Directory Listing
  • region Riding Area
  • Parking Parking
  • Viewpoint Viewpoint
  • Information Information
  • Warning Warning
  • Directions Directions
  • Water Fountain/Source Water Fountain/Source
  • Sight Sight
  • Restrooms Restrooms
  • Gate Gate
  • Camping Camping
  • Trail Sign Trail Sign
  • Table or Bench Table or Bench
  • Table or Bench eBike Charging Point
  • Other Other
      Directions to nicols-creek-switchback-track trailhead (-45.832580, 170.499850)
      update trails status or condition

      Nicols Creek -... Trail Reports

      Jan 4, 2019 @ 11:33pm
      Jan 4, 2019
      Any other first time riders smack their head on this branch at full speed? The bugger’s wearing camo... >_.
      Nov 30, 2018 @ 1:19pm
      Nov 30, 2018
      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
      view all reports »

      Recent Ridelog Activity on Trail

      Past Week
      • 4 rides
      • 8 miles avg distance
      6 Months
      • 66 rides
      • 9 miles avg distance
      • 235 rides


      more »
      20 |
      Mar 19, 2019 @ 8:30am
      Mar 19, 2019
      185 |
      Feb 16, 2018 @ 7:28pm
      Feb 16, 2018
      157 |
      Feb 16, 2018 @ 7:28pm
      Feb 16, 2018
      89 |
      Dec 8, 2017 @ 1:32pm
      Dec 8, 2017

      Routes with this trail

      Dunedin Enduro Series 2017 Pineapple race
      10 miles
      Emersons 3 Peaks Day 1 2017 race
      16 miles
      Emerson's 3 Peaks Enduro 2018 Day 1 Bullpen to Woodhaugh Gardens race
      10 miles

      5 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!
      • + 0
      flag smiffycrasher (Mar 30, 2019 at 20:49)
       A really great track. Will have to do this one again. Really enjoyable ride.

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