“A must-do, fast, undulating, Lake Circuit with tree-framed views of the Blue Lake.
— Dafydd Malcolm
The Upper Track along the Western Shore is Mountain Bike Only, so you'll want to choose the path that remains closest to the water.
This circuit features a lot of lovely singletrack which gets buffed out in places over summer. There are a few steps and two climbing options, allowing runners to vary the difficulty of the route. The trail that heads back along the eastern shore just past the southern beach is quite suddenly rocky for a hundred metres or so, and you'll need to watch the ankles. Tikitapu Road is used by Mountain Bikers and less frequently by forestry vehicles, so you'll want to use caution if you're traversing parts of the road.
The trail begins at the northern end of Tikitapu/Blue Lake. One of the more popular places to pick up the trail is from the beach there. Your route will be signed from the west end of the beach, and continues counter-clockwise.
A singletrack follows the lake edge, winding through native bush and rolling hills. This type of gentle terrain continues for a mile before the track splits with the southern branch climbing at a steady pitch for a few hundred metres to join Tikitapu road above the southern edge of the Lake. Meanwhile, the northern branch of the trail, the Blue Lake Track: Northern Alternate continues to the east and then climbs more steeply with switchbacks up to the road further along in the route.
Tikitapu road is a dirt four wheel drive track which drops gradually for 3/4 of a mile to a gate. Continue through the gate and follow the track on to the carpark at the Lookout off Tarawera Road. The track ducks down to the left past another gate, where you'll be greeted with switchbacks and steps down to the secluded southern beach. Enjoy running along the beach for a short distance before moving back into the bush.
From the southern beach, the track follows the lake edge around the eastern shore. There will be a couple of exits if you'd like to move onto the road instead of taking the trail. While you'll be journeying next to the road for this portion, there is a gravel continuation of the trail, which preventst runners from navigating the tarseal. This portion of the circuit is gently rolling, and the steepest climb will be behind you, making for an easy finish to a counter-clockwise loop.
You'll finish your run by popping up onto Tarawera road a few hundred metres from the other end of the main beach you started on.
You'll pass native bush on the eastern and western shores of the lake, with stands of large pines dominating the southern shore.