The Wharfedale is one of my favourite rides in Canterbury, having many great memories of over the years. Just 45 minutes from Christchurch, set in the Canterbury foothills you'll be riding through beech forests on some of the best singletrack offered in Canterbury!
Travel to Oxford (30 minutes north from Christchurch). Head west through the town turning right onto Woodstock road after approximately 2km. Continue to Ingrams, Lime Works Road, Perhams Road and then onto Whardafle Road through to the car park at the end of this road. There are a couple of fords which most cars can handle.
You have a multitude of ways to ride the Wharfedale, starting from the View Hill Carpark to the saddle return, or through to the Wharfedale, Hut return, and riding right through to the into the beautiful Lees Valley and out. The full loop through the Lees Valley can also be completed in both directions.
Some basic stats
- Saddle Return - 3 hours
- Wharfedale Hut Return - 5 hours
- Loop - 7 hours
- Difficulty: Blue
On my most recent ride, we started in Oxford, headed to the Mountain View car park, along Coopers Creek Link Track to the Wharfedale car park, through to Wharfedale Hut, riding out through the Lees Valley and back to Oxford, just on 6 hours of riding.
The Wharfedale can promise you one thing, damp conditions! I've never encountered a dry ride on this trail in the many years of riding, which is one of the attractions. Riding along the Coopers Creek Link Track through to the Warfdale carpark was the more challenging part of the trail, if you're not handy on the skills front, prepared for a bit of off-bike walking and mud then its best to miss this part out and start from the Wharfedale carpark.
Having not ventured through the ride for a few years I was impressed by the amount of maintenance that has been done on the track. Big shout out the Ground Effect and the North Canterbury Mountain Bike Club for this!
The track is littered with tree roots, water bars, bridges and rocks - good fun in the dry but slippery in the wet and more so after winter snow! It's important like any adventure to ensure you've packed your spare kit, I personally fell victim to cutting my back tyre on a rock, having to repair it with a tubeless plug, thanks, Mike King!
The climb through to the saddle is relatively gradual with the odd short steeper pinch, giving yourself a break at the saddle will ensure your legs have recovered. From here its mostly all downhill through to the Wharfedale Hut, wahoo!
The hut or shelter is basic but comfortable enough for a night if you want to make the ride more of an adventure. From the hut we continued through to the Lees Valley, there are a few river crossing to tackle and the old Bull too!
The signage when leaving the Hut is not great as some of the markers are hidden behind trees, so take care. Climbing out of Lees Valley makes for some spectacular scenery, and 2 very decent climbs. This part of the ride is on a public road, so take care. A good day in the saddle, 66.4km, 1420m of climbing just over 6 hours.
Check out more information on Trail Forks. https://www.trailforks.com/trails/wharfedale-track/