It then runs along trails gently down and then along to Te Potaka O Tawa, the trail entrance on Tarawera Road. There are toilets, showers, bike rentals and refreshment options. A shuttle operates from this area sometimes (check schedules here) which will take you to the top of the main climb from the Tarawera Road side of the forest, enabling various shortcuts back to Waipa.
The next segment takes riders to Lake Tikitapu, commonly called the Blue Lake. There is a spectacular run through some well-established native forest on a trail called The Feeder (the reasons for that name are lost in the mists of time!). It is beautiful, but care must be taken. It is two-way, can be used by walkers, and has a fairly steep and bumpy section halfway through with exposed roots to avoid. Please be careful on The Feeder! There are toilets at the Blue Lake reserve, it's a great place for a swim, and the Blue Lake campground is nearby. Food and drinks are available.
The segment around Lake Tikitapu follows the Tangaroamihi trail. The first part of this trail is also two-way - please expect oncoming traffic! There is a split after a few kilometres, you must take the signposted trail to the right which becomes one-way. This leads to Tikitapu Road, where there is a signposted route to the Te Kotukutuku trail above lake Rotokakahi, with stunning views of the lake and surrounds.
Te Kotukutuku and the newly added extension is a highlight of the Forest Loop, with several spectacular viewpoints over Lake Rotokakahi.
The Loop passes by a picnic area next to a redwood grove, and then follows the Baja Trail out to a section of Te Ara Ahi, a concrete path that runs gently downhill to Waipa and the finish.
There are numerous ways you can intersect or diverge from the Forest Loop to create your own versions. A few of our favorites are featured here.