Trail Daze | Like a Bat Outta Hell



Wrapping up our trip to KZN, the Trail Daze crew headed for Karkloof - an amazing trail network with immense flow and maximum fun factor, sculpted by master trail builder Hylton Turvey.

A short drive North from Howick, my usual base when visiting KZN, you find yourself in the centre of a 60km odd trail network, with a big variety of trails to choose from. Rene's Rumble, Jewitt's Jive and Bat Outta Hell, to name a few, will all leave you with that silly grin on your face and the feeling that you could also one day maybe definitely race as a pro. Such is the speed and flow of these trails.


As to be expected, a trail network over such a vast area will feature a wide array of terrain. From the tight, loamy forests of Rene's Rumble, to the exposed, golden grasslands of Bat Outta Hell, there is something for everyone. And with a total descend of around 1275 meters, you'll find yourself going back up for one more lap, more often than you'd think.


Bikes washed, and ready to leave cassa Millar en route to Karkloof.


With scenery like this, the 15km drive from Howick flies by, and you almost wish it was further away.




Ah man, I don't really know if I can ever express what I feel when I ride here. Maybe a bewildered happiness that it's on my back door? The Renes Rumble descent has to be one of the most sensational sets of continuous single track in the country. It's got the perfect gradient to make you feel like a super-hero, and it's packed with delicious little treats like popper jumps, fat berms, moon shaped bridges, rock features and high speed motorways of pine needles threaded between green trees. Kath Fourie




Still one of my favourite trail networks that I've had the pleasure of riding, and its right in my backyard! Long flowing trails with berms that make you feel like you're in a super tube. What a great day out with friends riding until the sunset over the midlands. Tim Bentley


Countless bobsled-like berms, super grippy loam and endless flow.


While the rocky sections of these trail are short and not too burly, its enough to keep you on your toes, and will catch you out if you to don't respect them.




The trails here hold a special place in my heart and have always been brilliant thanks to Hylton Turvey whose vision of MTB translates into flowy technical trails. The OutBack trails are located a bit further away from the Karkloof Country Club than the rest of the trail network and give those willing to make the journey some brilliant varied single track, with some phenomenal descending. The three main trails include the legendary Bat Outta Hell, Rene's Rumble & Jewitt's Jive. Mark Millar


Perfect late afternoon golden light. #lightbro


Heading down the last stretch of Rene's Rumble, we had to be quick as the light was fading fast and we still had to make it to the top of Bat Outta Hell for the last rays of the day.


*Special permission was granted for this story to bring our vehicle on to Sappi land. This is not the status quo, private vehicles are not allowed on Sappi land. The access road up to Bat Outta Hell will be open to riders shortly, please visit the Karkloof MTB Club Facebook page for up dates on trail closures and openings.


Surreal golden fields, literally as far as the eye can see, waited for us at the trail head. With the sun seemingly setting down below in the forest, the exposed elevation rendered the perfect golden hour setting for us to wrap up the day.


Black-jacks doing their thing.


3 tiny riders in a sea of rolling hills and golden light to end off an epic weekend of riding.




Bat Outta Hell has to be on every riders bucket list, and I have to hand it to our friend Hylton Turvey for crafting his vision from this hillside. Nowhere else have I ever felt like I'm riding full pace through a field of golden butter with such a view in front of me. The only problem with Bat Outta Hell, is that as soon as it's finished, you want to ride it again...and again. Kath Fourie


Tim embracing his inner phone-tographer and paying tribute to man's finest invention as the last rays disappear.


Thanks for awesome times Karkloof. Now let's get some pizza.


GPS: 29°22'58.1"S 30°15'49.7"E

Permit: R40 at the Karkloof Country Club



All images by Ewald Sadie

instagram: @ewaldsadie



This project is made possible by:




Riders : Kath Fourie | Mark Millar | Tim Bentley



Stay tuned to Bike Hub for more Trail Daze coming soon...





NicoBoshoff, Aug 29 2016 09:35

Awesome pictures.  Have to get out there one day.


Question:  When does it stop being loam?  I always thought loam is this magical soil that one can only enjoy for a short stint on fresh cut trails, but eventually it's down to dirt (not sure that makes sense).  Or is it just mtb nomenclature like "Enduro" and "Climbs like a XC bike but descends like a DH sled" or "it's the USD-ZAR's fault"?

NPJ, Aug 29 2016 09:58

Those images are incredible! Totally gives me a sense of an awesome afternoon riding! Great work Ewald!!!

Sidewinder., Aug 29 2016 10:04

Go ride it and see for yourself.

chris_meowzit, Aug 29 2016 10:14

really interested and would like to plan a trip down there but would love to find out a little more on the trail and type of riding before we trek down there from JHB to find its more DH type of riding?

KathF, Aug 29 2016 10:22

Hi Chris, all the trails that you see in this article are all used as part of the 60km Karkloof Classic Marathon route - it's not suited for DH bikes, there is a lot of trail pedalling in between everything. And the majority of the trails in Karkloof and Howick trail networks are not at all suited to DH bikes - except the actual DH trail, and even that is doable on a trail bike.


Depending on when you plan on coming, a new 30km and 37km trail have been plotted and are "in progress" which will lead you straight from the Karkloof Club out onto the Rene's Rumble section of trails (the forested pictures here) as well as many other classic trails. We also have a 15km Falls Loop trail which is just...perfect...and a Supa20 (20km) trail orientated loop.


If you want more information on the trails, accommodation, guides (if you want them), trail fees - anything - just drop me a message.


Oh and I have seen people on hard tails having a ball here - but my preference would be a 140mm - 150mm travel bike for the maximum fun if you like a bit of jumping and pinning it through rocks etc - otherwise the standard 100 - 130mm travel bike will be totally happy here, and much better if you want to do long distances. We sort of have it all :)


really interested and would like to plan a trip down there but would love to find out a little more on the trail and type of riding before we trek down there from JHB to find its more DH type of riding?

Andrew Steer, Aug 29 2016 10:57

Awesome pics... and some seriously special trails!

chris_meowzit, Aug 29 2016 11:06

thanks for the info Kath, much appreciated and very helpful. We are in the process of planning a trip down :)

Lighthouse, Aug 29 2016 11:13

thanks for the info Kath, much appreciated and very helpful. We are in the process of planning a trip down :)

I travel a lot from Jhb to Howick to ride the trails in Karkloof and Howick. Done the classic on a hardtail, no problems.

chris_meowzit, Aug 29 2016 11:39

can anyone recommend close and cheap accommodation to the bike park, even camping. I am looking for accommodation in the area but if anyone has some recommendations that would be much appreciated!

KathF, Aug 29 2016 02:04

can anyone recommend close and cheap accommodation to the bike park, even camping. I am looking for accommodation in the area but if anyone has some recommendations that would be much appreciated! - R350 per night for self catering per person (4 sleeper cottage) - right opposite an Entrance into the Howick trail network, and about 5km from the Karkloof Trails parking lot. Bike Friendly establishment with bike wash facilities, very close to town too so easy to duck back into Howick for things. - Backpacker Style accommodation - from about R120 per person per night. Further from town (about 25km from Howick, and about 11km from Karkloof Country Club). Basic but comfortable and good if you have a big group who are on a budget. Nice braai facilities, fire place in communal kitchen/dining hall.


Or you can actually camp at the Karkloof Country Club - I think that's about R60 per person but I would need to confirm. They have hot showers and make the club kitchen available on request, otherwise there are some electricity points around.

chris_meowzit, Aug 29 2016 02:07

Many thanks to all for the info supplied! really looking forward to this trip!