“An incredible run that takes you high above the river plain to some impressive views of the mountains of Arthur's Pass.”
— Kristen McGlynn
A nice option for a longer day run that climbs from a beech forest past subalpine tarns to the grassy tussocks of a ridge that gives you some outstanding views of the Waimakariri River Valley.
Need to Know
The ridge past Bealey Hut can be windy and cold. Bring warm clothes and be prepared for inclement weather.
The portion of this run past Bealey Hut is a bit of a lung and leg-burning challenge.
Pick up the start of this track at the end of Cloudesley Road. The parking area for this track is located off the main highway; turn right on Cloudesley Road to get to the large dirt lot. To get to the start of the track, you'll have to run up the road, past several small cabins and cottages until the road dead-ends at the start of the trail. There is a pit toilet here.
The track starts as a gentle climb on a wide path that meanders through a young beech forest. The track is wide, well-used, and well-marked with DOC orange triangle blazes. This shaded section through the beech forest makes for a nice, easy start.
As the trail climbs, it emerges from the woods to a more scrubby landscape with a large canyon and a steep drop to Bruce Stream on the left-hand side. On the right, the wide plain of the braided Waimakariri River spreads out behind you. Be sure to take a moment to look over your shoulder as you continue the climb.
Further up, the track passes through tussock grasslands and subalpine scrub, and a boardwalk will take you past several tarns. From this vantage point, Waimakariri River Valley opens up in both directions, and the 360-degrees views are impressive.
The track ends at Bealey Hut, a historic hut that was once used by musterers. The hut is a bit rough around the edges, and if you are spending the night, you would be well advised to secure your belongings from the mice that, according to the guest log, have also made themselves at home.
Past Bealey Hut, the track is no longer marked or maintained. Initially, you'll be bushwhacking across a boggy meadow immediately to the west of the hut. Keep heading to the far side of the clearing where you can pick up a more noticeable track that continues to climb the ridgeline.
After passing through a beautiful section of gnarled beech trees covered in hanging moss, the route begins to climb up the ridge in earnest, with switchbacks marked by cairns guiding your way. That ridge on your left drops abruptly in a sheer and rocky cliff while the hillside rolls away in a more gradual slope of tussocky grasslands on your right. The views just get more and more spectacular as you climb.
Once atop the ridge, the trail levels out slightly and makes an easier climb to the high point of this ridge which is marked by a large pile of stones. You'll have to do some rock hopping to get to this high point, from which you can enjoy the 360-degree views. You may just want to sit up here for a while and soak it all in.
From this point, ambitious backpackers can choose to continue on the Jordan Saddle to loop around to the Jordan Stream Valley for a hard 16.8 mi (27 km) backcountry loop. For those interested in a nice day run, after taking in the views up top, simply head back the way you came.
Flora & Fauna
A young beech forest and alpine tussock at the higher elevation. Birds such as fantails, wood pigeons, and maybe the mischievous Kea at the higher altitudes.