The St James Cycle Trail is one of a network of special cycle trails throughout the country.
The 64km cycle trail starts and finishes at the Maling Pass and St James Homestead entrances which are 25km apart along Tophouse Road. It is recommended to start at the Maling Pass entrance as there is more downhill this way and the predominant wind comes down the valley behind you.
The trail takes 1–2 days depending on your level of fitness and you will need to be reasonably fit and experienced to undertake the full trail. The first section from Maling Pass to Lake Guyon is intermediate grade, with steep slopes and rough terrain. After that the track become increasingly difficult and remote – requiring river crossings and bike carrying in places and is suitable for experienced cyclists only.
Peters and Edwards valley tracks as far as Scotties Hut are also intermediate grade, although there are a number of river crossings along the Edwards Valley 4WD track.
Download the St James Cycle Trail Brochure.
Recent Articles: Cruising the St James crease by Pat Barrett
The track climbs to Maling Pass (1308m) then descends down to meet the Waiau River. Follow the river for 6km to the turn-off to Lake Guyon. It's 2.5km up to Lake Guyon Hut – a nice detour for lunch. All major streams along this section are bridged.
After the Lake Guyon junction the cycleway becomes more advanced and challenging with steep inclines. The track is very rocky and uneven in places. There are two bridges over the Waiau River but a number of smaller streams are not bridged.
After leaving the Waiau River, the grade steepens to eventually reach Charlies Saddle. After a short descent into Edwards Valley, the track climbs towards Edwards Saddle. From here the cycle trail branches off onto old farm tracks through Peters Valley to St James Homestead.
Alternatively, you can continue along Edwards Valley a further 4.2km to reach Tophouse Road.
From St James Homestead, follow Peters Valley Track to the junction with Edwards Valley Track. Follow Edwards Track to Tophouse Road and then along to St James Homestead for an easy 15-km loop.
St James Cycle Trail
C1. Maling Pass entrance car park to 4WD track end - 4hr / 12km
C2. 4WD track end to Lake Guyon junction - 1hr 30min / 4.5km
C3. Lake Guyon junction to Lake Guyon Hut - 45min / 2.5km
C4. Lake Guyon junction to Saddle Spur Bridge - 3hr / 11km
C5. Saddle Spur Bridge to Pool Hut - 2hr 30min / 7km
C6. Pool Hut to Charlies Saddle - 1hr 45min / 5.3km
C7. Charlies Saddle to Scotties Hut - 45min / 2.2km
C8. Scotties Hut to Peters Pass junction - 3hr 30min / 10km
C9. Peters Pass junction to St James Homestead - 2hr 30min / 7km
C10. Peters Pass junction to Tophouse Road - 1hr 30min / 4.2km
Tophouse Rd to St James Homestead - 1hr / 3.4km
Easier Half-Day Option: Homestead Run (15km)
For young families or riders with insufficient time or experience to attempt the full trail, the Homestead Run will give you a taste of St James.
From the St James Homestead, ride up valley on Section D–E to Peters Pass where a great picnic spot overlooks Waterfall Stream. Follow the trail until it intersects with the Edwards valley 4WD track. Head east (right) down the 4WD track to connect with Tophouse Road, then ride 3 km down valley to the Homestead.
Other Mountain Biking
Mountain bikes are permitted on all tracks on the eastern side of the Waiau River. Fowlers Pass Track and the route from Stanley Vale Hut along the Stanley River are advanced mountain-biking grade – suitable for expert riders (grade 5).
St James – west of Waiau River
Mountain bikers can cross the Waiau River at either of the two bridges or ford the river further up. There are two recommended crossing points; marked at the end of Maling Pass and opposite Lake Guyon track.
Mountain bikers can reach Anne and Christopher huts by following the orange shared-use track markers (for mountain bike, horses and trampers).
Note you will need to cross Ada River to reach Christopher Hut and this may not be crossable in high flows. Likewise, Henry Track crosses the Henry River and this also may not be crossable in high flows.
Waiau Pass Track is suitable for mountain biking as far as the river crossing near Maling Pass. After that it follows the Waiau riverbed and is difficult for mountain bikes.
Code of conduct
All mountain-biking tracks are shared-use tracks. This means other recreational users may also be using these tracks, including horse-riders, motorised vehicles, walkers/trampers.
The basic rules for shared-use tracks are:
- Respect that other users have different and valid reasons for being there.
- Anticipate other users around corners or in blind spots.
- Expect the unexpected; drive/cycle at a speed you can stop at if a hazard arises.
- Do not startle other users – greet them when approaching.
- The basic give-way rule for shared-use tracks is: 4WD and other motorised vehicles give way to walkers, cyclists and horses; cyclists give way to walkers and horses; and walkers give way to horses.
- Common sense and courtesy prevail at all times.