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Somerset West – Let’s go mountain biking!

January 20, 2011

Somerset West is a great mountain biking destination.  There are lovely day cycle tours and good places for bike packing expeditions.  If you bring your own bike, or rent one, there are loads of great self-guided MTB trails.  Most MTB trails are on farms, in forestry land or national parks.  You’ll find good places to cycle almost anywhere but what follows are a few suggestions locally:

Helderberg Farm
Here a 9km circular trail negotiates various terrain and surface options.  It’s an easy route which takes about an hour to complete and costs R20 entry to the farm.  Helderberg Farm is located on the Helderberg Road 1 km from the R44 just past Main Road in Somerset West.


Sir Lowry’s Pass Village – Gantow Pass
The route starts at Blue Rock a magnificent fresh water lake, home of the Blue Rock Cable Water ski resort, where there is parking and use of facilities.  

This route takes approx 2 hours and follows the service road for the railway line, passing through farms to the top of Sir Lowry’s Pass.  The service road ends 3km from the top, but you can cycle the next 1km alongside the railway line, by turning left on a single track which is part of the historical Gantouw Pass.  Here the tracks of the 4000 wagons that went over the pass over a period of 200 years are embedded into the rock.  It was and is not for the faint hearted.  Be aware that cycles must be carried over the last 200 metres as cycling here is not permitted and in any case, it would be too difficult.  If you want to cycle on the other side of the mountain, you need a day permit.

From Somerset West take the N2 towards Sir Lowry’s Pass.  At the last turnoff to Gordons Bay, turn left towards Sir Lowry’s Pass Village.  Turn left again 50 meters from turnoff into Blue Rock.

Hottentots Nature Reserve
The reserve has an easy 6 km circular route, ideal for the whole family.  It starts and ends at the parking area near the reserve office, traversing sections of plantation and fynbos areas along the way.  The road surface is generally good although it might be sandy in places and with a river crossing or two thrown in as part of the adventure. The trail affords picturesque views of the farmlands surrounding the towns of Villiersdorp and Vyeboom.

To get to the Hottentots Holland Reserve, take the N2 heading out of Somerset West towards George and turn left at the Orchard Farm Stall.  The entrance to the reserve is 11km from Grabouw on the R321 to Villiersdorp.

Jonkershoek Nature Reserve

This is one of the best mountain biking areas in South Africa.  It is safe and surrounded by mountains which provide spectacular views.  There is something for all levels of riders including a gravel road, jeep track, single track and some built jumps for the extremists.  There are various circular gravel road routes that are great for beginners and, and a 10Km circular route which is suitable for the whole family to ride.  Permits are obtained at the MTO Forestry gate for R20 and there is a tea garden for a snack after the ride.  Maps are also available for purchase.

To get there follow the R44 into Stellenbosch, head southeast on Adam Tas St/R44 toward Hendrikse.  Turn left at Helshoogte Rd/R310 then turn right at Simonsberg.  Turn left at Martinson and continue straight onto Jonkershoek.
GPS Coordinates are 33°58’6.78″S 18°56’4.27″E

Wiesenhof Wildpark
The Wiesenhof Wildpark has a 7km single track route which passes through stands of eucalyptus along a series of short climbs into the game reserve, which has abundant wild life and stunning scenery.  An alternative is to take a ride on the 8 km circular mountain road taking in the spectacular views along the way.

To get there follow the R44 out of Stellenbosch for 12 km; turn right into Wiesenhof 200m after Lievland wineroute farm.

Delvera mountain bike trails

The Dirtopia Trail Centre at the Delvera Farm offers several mountain bike trails.  The Porcupine mountain bike trail is 15km long.  This marked trail is geared for advanced riders with over 5km of technical constructed single track.  There is also a 3km black route for advanced riders.   The Farm Mountain bike trail is a more sedate 8km Farm Trail on farm roads between the vineyards, which is suitable for the whole family.  Bike hire is available from the trail centre.

The Delvera Farm is located on the R44 on the left between Stellenbosch and Klapmuts.

 …and if you just want to watch:

Lourensford Wine Estate, Somerset West
The 8th edition of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas will take place from 27 March to 3 April 2011, and will once again see riders battle the natural elements of South Africa’s harsh mountain biking terrain for the coveted championship title and prize purse of R500 000 – the largest prize purse in the world of endurance mountain biking.

Lourensford Wine Estate will once again host the finish of the race and The Grand Finale celebrations on 3 April 2011.  The Grand Finale will kick off with live entertainment by well-known South African bands, a Farmer’s Market, delectable food and wine as well as glorious scenery.  Vantage points will be accessible to the general public, so that all may have a piece of the mountain biking action. There will also be a Kiddies Adventure Zone offering fun activities such as a cycling race, jumping castles, games, face painting and more.  Entrance is free.


Mountain Biking in South Africa – a really useful site for mountain biking in South Africa
Mountain Biking Routes – more than 250 mountain biking routes in South Africa
Mountain Bike South Africa – trails, news, events, riding tips and more stuff.
Racing Events – for mountain bikers, roadies, triathletes and adventure racers. – the official website for the Giro del Capo, Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour, Junior Cycle Tour & Tricycle Tour!
Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Mountain Bike Challenge – is an increasingly popular event which takes place on the Sunday preceding the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour in the Franschhoek Winelands.
Bicycling Magazine – the South African edition.

  1. Didn’t know you are a blogger as well ! Thanks for the above info Diane . 🙂

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