The New Zealand Cycle Trail grading system aligns with the approach taken by both the Department of Conservation and Mountain Biking New Zealand.
Trails are all graded on a scale of 1-5, with Grade 1 being the easiest and Grade 5 being for expert cyclists.
The West Coast Wilderness Trail is a Grade 2 (easy) ride with some Grade 3 on road (intermediate) sections.
Easy Trails are described as being "predictable". They deliver no surprises and are mostly flat with some gentle climbs. The surface is firm gravel and the trail is wider enough for two people to cycle side-by-side at times. Grade 2 trails that utilise existing roads generally follow quiet roads with little traffic. Easy Trails are suitable for beginners, occasional cyclists and families with limited cycling experience. A multi-geared bike with medium to wide tyres is recommended, such as a comfort bike, touring bike or mountain bike.
Intermediate trails can be more narrow and may include hill climbs and small river crossings. The trail surface is mostly firm, but may include muddy or loose sections. On–road trails have moderate traffic levels of up to 1,000 vehicles per day. Grade 3 trails are most suitable for regular cyclists with a good level of fitness and for children over the age of 12. Younger children should be accompanied by an adult. A mountain bike is recommended.
The section between Kumara and Milltown is more challenging than the rest of the ride because of the incline between these locations. The climb is easily managed by people with a reasonable level of fitness. Don't forget that a short walk is an alternative to riding and also offers a great chance to enjoy the views!
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