This trail is hand built by 4th generation landowner Tom O’Brian. It’s a 27Km cross country loop around the top of the Slate mountain range. The trail winds it’s through Welcome Rock itself (a cool rocky outcrop) and along the historic Roaring Lion Water Races (features left behind from the Gold Mining era). The trail is generally quite narrow with a good collection of berms, with exposed sections and a really fun downhill. Plus fantastic views ALL the way!
After a few kms on a gradual gradient you get to the high point of the trail at 1152m and Welcome Rock. A wicked rocky outcrop, a perfect vantage point for the view down to Mataura Valley and great photo opportunities!
From here it’s a seriously fun flowing downhill with berms towards Mud Hut. At the bottom of the downhill, the first of many information boards explain about the historical water races. How they were built and why. It’s an amazing tale of seriously hard graft and back country hardship.
At approximately the 9km mark Mud Hut appears at the side of the trail. At first glance of Mud Hut you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Wales 200 odd years ago, it is the cutest little hut! Made of the mud from the nearby land. It was built by the Chinese workmen during the construction of the water races and was restored to provide charming accommodation along the trail.
The highlight of a stay in the Mud Hut would have to be the gas heated bath outside. It’s in prime position for a fabulous view over the valley whilst you soak your muscles.
The trail then follows the water race along the side of the valley. It’s not particularly technical however it is narrow and sometimes hidden by the tussock grass. Every now and then remnants of the gold mining era are encountered along the trail. Tom has recently added interpretation boards at each of these points, explaining the historical relevance. At 13Km you’ll need to duck for the Flumings….
At around 20Km, near the head of the valley, the trail joins up with a gravel road for about 30 mins of riding to head back to the ski hut and the car park. The epic views continue along this section, but this time into the Mataura valley to the West. Then a cool downhill section brings you back to the ski hut.
Welcome Rock Overview
Although it’s not the longest or most technical of rides Welcome Rock is one of our favourite rides in this area. Done on a clear and calm day it is truly beautiful!! (it’s an exposed ride, wind would make it significantly less fun!). It boasts outstanding views of two surrounding valleys, great track, fun downhills, interesting historical aspects. If you fancy spending a bit more time here you could stay in Mud Hut and enjoy a beer or a wine soaking in the gas heated bath with a view!
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