The most popular entry to the forest is from the Waipa Mill access road, signposted off SH5 a few kilometres south of town.
It is easy riding distance, especially if you are staying at the very cool Alpin Motel on Sala St.
• There's bike hire and good advice at the Mountain Bike Rotorua (MBR) HQ and good coffee and muffins at the Waipa branch of the Okere Falls cafe in the car park.
• Through the car park, past the free bike wash stand (with drinkable water) over the little bridge, and you are on the trail. If you go hard right you have a nice flat trail to warm up on, and you can work your way around the whole thing from here. Remember that to get back to your car (don't laugh, people get hopelessly lost five minutes from the exit) go downhill on Pohaturoa Rd, off Nursery Rd at the big intersection. There is a sign which helps but not if you are too rooted to read.
• There are over 30km of named, signposted trails in this section of the forest, which is amazing because the area we are talking about is only a couple of kilometres square. The whole thing is mapped, and you can get maps from the visitor centre on Long Mile Rd.
• You can easily access pick up points for the South Star Shuttle from here (or drive past the car park and the Red Stag Mill to the Hill Road gate entrance to the forest).
Unfortunately, there are some selfish dickheads for whom the trail system doesn't provide what they seek. Instead of going somewhere else in the other 90% of the forest and building what they want, they shortcut, or otherwise modify the established system. Their activities could make it difficult for you to navigate if you are not a local.
Please don't be shy, ask anybody who looks like they know where they are going if you are in doubt about where you are headed. Also - no skids on Old Chevy.