Mountain Biking in the Free State
Mountain Biking in South Africa
Mountain biking is an exceptionally popular sport in South Africa and each province has an exciting array of well-established trails. An increasing number are marked, but the profusion of rural gravel roads and footpaths traversing the country allows you to make up your own off-road journey.
A relatively new phenomenon is the development of mountain bike parks such as the MTN Toyota Cycle Park in Gauteng and Giba Gorge MTB Park in KwaZulu-Natal. These provide dedicated MTB trails that are safe and accessible.
Gauteng has a large number of single-track trails to cater to for its large mountain biking community. Although by no means the most scenic, these provide an escape for stressed urbanites. There are some superb trails a little further afield, particularly in the scenic Magaliesberg Mountains, less than an hour from Johannesburg and Pretoria.
The Free State has some outstanding trails, particularly in the golden sandstone mountains in the south-east of the province. The forests and river valleys of Mpumalanga, especially around Sabie, are heaven for dirt-hounds.
The rolling hills of KwaZulu-Natal make for exciting riding. There are numerous wilderness trails in the Drakensberg for adventurous riders. Areas like Karkloof in the Midlands and Clearwater Trails on the South Coast offer beautifully crafted single-track routes.
The beaches and maze of footpaths along the Wild Coast make this a very popular destination for mountain bikers wanting to enjoy sublime scenery and testing tracks. There are also plenty of challenges in the Baviaanskloof, the Tsitsikamma and elsewhere in the Eastern Cape.
Some of the best and most scenic riding is in the Western Cape, particularly in the Harkerville Forest near Knysna. Cape Town has some excellent single-track routes on Table Mountain and in Tokai Forest. There’s plenty more in the Jonkershoek Reserve in the Cape Winelands.
If you have a competitive nature you are spoilt for choice. Mountain bike racing has grown at a phenomenal rate and several of the multi-stage races - like the ABSA Cape Epic - attract large numbers of international riders. Some of these routes can be ridden year-round. If you prefer to make a holiday of it, there are numerous operators that will organise guided trips through spectacular or inaccessible regions. You can cycle through game reserves, on birding routes or on other special interest tours. Logistics are taken care of, including bike hire, allowing you to just enjoy the ride.