Recreational use of the area has been important for many years, but has grown significantly in recent times with the development of additional facilities. The Back Track was used for motorised recreation prior to its closure to vehicles due to an unsafe bridge. Gates were installed at each end of the track in 2001 to premanently exclude vehicles.
Mountain bike tracks have been developed in the Arapuke Forest Park over the last decade. These tracks are ridden down hill and provide a loop from the top of the Back Track. This allows riders to ride up the easy grade of the Back Track, then return down the forest track to Kahuterawa Road end.
From around 2000, development of the Sledge Track begun by a group of volunteers led by Ian Argyle. The aim was to construct a track along the route of the legal road beside the Kahuterawa Stream that would eventually give access to Hardings Park. In 2002 classification of the Turitea Reserve was undertaken. This classified Hardings Park is a scenic reserve with open public access. A management plan for Turitea Reserve was subsequently completed and approved in January 2004.
Car parking and toilet facilities were provided at the end of Kahuterawa Road by Council in 2002, and the Sledge Track was officially opened by Prime Minister Helen Clarke in April 2003.
Thanks to Manawatu Mountain Bike Club, Arapuke Forest Park is Manawatū's premier mountain bike park. Club members have developed 15km of cross country and downhill tracks in a growing network of Grade 2 to Grade 6 mountain bike trails and forestry roads.
Before development of the Sledge Track, walkers used the Back Track. This track is still popular with walkers. Walkers sometimes return to the Kahuterawa Road end via the mountain bike tracks through Arapuke Forest Park.
Since the opening of the Sledge Track and links to open public access in Hardings Park, opportunities for walkers have increased. This has been further enhanced by the opening of the Te Araroa Trail which traverses Turitea Road - Greens Road - Kahuterawa Road - Back Track - Scotts Road - Gordon Kear - then south through Tararua Forest Park.
On leash throughout. See map.
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