Ben Lomond via Access Road
ElevationAscent: 4,410' 1,344 m
Descent: -4,410' -1,344 m
High: 5,625' 1,715 m
Low: 1,215' 370 m
GradeAvg Grade: 19% (11°)
Max Grade: 43% (23°)
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“This is the killer full version of the Ben Lomond Track run. You'll feel awesome by the end!”— André Chalmers
Only drawbacks: watch out for cyclists, walkers and occasionally vehicles. Also, a minor issue is that the main Douglas Fir forest is an introduced species and it's not till you get halfway up that it morphs into the lovely local flora. Watch out for feral goats which are often seen but always smelt!
The trail then contours along the side of a major ridge, briefly crossing a patch of native forest, but otherwise sticking to open country with Ben Lomond getting gradually nearer with each step. The trail eventually joins the top of the ridgeline, where expansive views open up of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables beyond. Depending on your pace up until this point, you may be feeling it here. You get welcome relief once you approach Ben Lomond Saddle and the gradient flattens out.
Near the saddle is the intersection with the Moonlight Track, and a bench that provides a convenient resting point and chance to assess conditions. Above the saddle, the climb to the peak becomes increasingly committing as the trail steepens and exposure increases. In clear weather, the views are wildly impressive and just keep getting better as you go higher. Keep heading up, with occasional small switchbacks and a few steps that may require hands for balance. Eventually, you'll top out on the summit and can enjoy commanding views of the Queenstown area and surrounding mountains. A mounted sight-map on the summit will help you make sense of the peaks in every direction. When you've soaked in the epic views long enough, retrace your steps the way you came.
Keep in mind the downhill which, while pleasant, is also extended from the easier Skyline version of this run. Be careful with your footing around stones and roots.
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