Cape Town is a mountain biker’s heaven. There are incredible trails that suit most skill and fitness levels. Some are on the outskirts of the city, while others will take a bit of driving to get to. Whether you’re looking for a tranquil, scenic ride in nature, or an exhilarating blast down a narrow single track, one of these options should have you covered:
The lower slopes of Table Mountain, particularly above Deer Park, offer some of the best and most accessible mountain biking in the city. For the most part, there is no fee to ride on these trails either. There are several access points and dozens of loops that can keep you busy for hours on end. Though the terrain is often steep and unforgiving, there’s a choice of jeep and single tracks suitable for all skill levels. If the thought of a relentless offload ascent has you questioning your fitness levels, you can also approach via the tarred Tafelberg Road, and save all your off-roading for the downhills back towards the city. Table Mountain Bikers has done an excellent job at mapping out the accessible routes.
Signal Hill and Lion’s Head
Signal Hill, which technically falls under Table Mountain National Park, has recently opened up to mountain bikes. Previously only the domain of hikers and runners, you can now share the trail with other outdoor enthusiasts. There are several single and jeep track trails leading to either side of Signal Hill, though the main trails are often congested with hikers making for some slow riding and difficult passes. Legal routes are clearly signposted, and riders who stray from these are liable for a fine. Be sure to familiarise yourself with the legal routes prior to departure.
Jonkershoek, in the nearby town of Stellenbosch, is a mountain biking haven. There are several trails in and around the town, but most head straight for Jonkershoek to take on the well maintained and constantly changing trails through the commercial plantation. For more information on trails and entrance costs, visit the Cape Nature website.
Most dedicated mountain bikers spend at least a few days each month tearing it up through Cape Town’s Tokai forest. There are several trails through dense forest and along exposed jeep tracks that offer something for all skill levels. It’s a beautiful place to ride that can test your fitness on the way up and skills on the way down — it was even featured on the 2011 edition of Cape Epic.
Delvera Wine Estate
You’ll find another popular mountain biking destination in Stellenbosch on the picturesque Delvra Wine Estate. Trail building legend Meurant Botha has constructed a variety of mountain biking trails here that suit all skill levels. You can also rent a bike and pick up last minute supplies at the Dirtopia headquarters.
On the outskirts of Cape Town is the tranquil suburb of Durbanville, which also happens to be home to some of the region’s best mountain biking. If you’re looking for well maintained trails and great views, head to Contermanskloof Farm, where Meurant Botha has again had a hand in constructing an exciting course that will test even hardened riders.
If you’ve taken up mountain biking because of the views, you won’t be disappointed with what’s waiting for you out on the trails at Helderberg. Helderberg mountain biking trails are located just outside Somerset West, and they expose you to some of the most spectacular sights over False Bay. On a clear day you’ll also have clear views of the eastern reaches of Table Mountain. There are trails and routes to suit all skill levels, and even the most aggressive riders will find something to keep them entertained.
The town of Paarl, less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town, is famous for more than just beautiful wine farms. There are also some fantastic mountain biking options in the region, the most celebrated of which is Rhebokskloof, which offers a variety of routes that cater to most riders. However, the real visual treat awaits the fittest who make it to the top of the infamous hill.
There are four different route options and seven different starting points through the wine farms in the Bottelary hills area that make this one of the most celebrated mountain biking regions for those in the know. The routes, which range from easy to highly technical, offer incredible views of False Bay, the wine lands and Table Mountain.
If you’re looking to get out of town for an incredible weekend of mountain biking, head towards the Grabouw region, approximately an hour’s drive from Cape Town. Here you’ll find a variety of trails, some of which have been used in previous editions of the Cape Epic. The epicentre of all the mountain biking and outdoor activities is the Trail’s End Lodge, South Africa’s first bike hotel, which offers trail advice, bike rentals, and a range of facilities to help complement any mountain biking trip to the region.