If you’re a mountain bike enthusiast and live in South Africa, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to exciting trails. To narrow down your selection, here are five of the country’s top trails.
Central Park Trails, Johannesburg
East of Johannesburg in Modderfontein, Central Park Trails offers four routes between 10km and 40km, catering for different skill levels. Routes are mostly single track, starting at the Modderfontein Sports Club, from which riders can choose their distance and the loop they would like to follow. The route holds a climb of approximately 480m across wet and dry terrain, with hydration stations along the way.
The 24-hour patrols along the route add to the safety and security, and refreshments are available at the coffee shop after the ride. Of the three routes available at Central park Trails, the Red Route is the most advanced, taking riders on a steep climb, with more technical riding across bridges and another 2km of single-track through reeds.
The Euphoria ‘Vasbyt’ Trail, Cape Town city centre
Tokai’s proximity to the Cape Town city centre makes this trail a convenient choice for Cape Town residents and visitors. The course is easy to navigate, with trail markers down and it has recently received extensive upgrades. Vasbyt is suited to both beginners and technical riders at around 1,5km long, with a 100m elevation drop and a gradient of approximately 6,5%.
The trail dates back over 20 years. It was maintained by volunteers until 2015, when a fire devastated the area, making the trail unrideable. It has since been restored and is a must ride.
Sani Pass MTB Route, Lesotho
For the serious mountain biker, the continuous climb from Sani Pass into Lesotho and the journey along surrounding roads is a difficult but satisfying ride. It has several tight curves and steep drops into the valley below, and a tough climb at the top.
While the final 2km are the steepest part of the climb, refreshments at the Sani Mountain Lodge pub – the highest pub in Africa – are not far off. Getting to the pub is one of the most challenging rides in the country, with 3200m elevation, gradients of 25% and climbs of 1465m over 24km.
Magoebaskloof in Limpopo has a selection of trails suited to various skill levels. The Stanford Lake/Ebenezer Dam route is a family-friendly 5,3km (with an option to extend by 3km) that stretches alongside Stanford Lake and Ebenezer Dam and along a few relatively flat roads. The Cheerio/Sequoia is another 5km ride suitable for families that offer scenic views of pine plantations, avocado orchards and the gardens of Cheerio and Sequoia.
For more experienced riders, the Magoebaskloof Adventures trail is a 10km route with 5km of technical single-track along the steep Letaba Gorge. And riders who want to put their stamina to the test can take on the Cheerio/Sequoia/Bramasole/Stanford Lake College and Ebenezer/Broederstroom routes, which are more advanced at 25 and 20km respectively.
Table Mountain, Cape Town
Table Mountain offers easily accessible and largely free MTB routes. Table Mountain Bikers has helpfully mapped many of them. The terrain is challenging in many places but offers a variety of jeep and single track to suit most skill levels. There are multiple access points so you can start your ride wherever is most convenient, as well as lots of loops to play in.