Having hosted countless mountain biking events, ranging from XC to Enduro to DH (some of them at National level), the Helderberg Trail Network certainly does not need any formal introduction.
With around 40 km of marked trails, all starting from the family friendly coffee shop, the terrain caters for all skill levels from the very beginner to the very experienced. In addition to coffees, the kiosk sells light meals and drinks, and with a petting zoo and braai facilities on the premises, one can easily make a day of it. With input from professional mountain biker Andrew Neethling, land owner Jan van Schalkwyk and resident trail builder Duran van Eeden have come up with a selection of red and black route options, which can be configured and combined to suit your ride. And with views from Stellenbosch to Gordon's Bay, and across the entire False Bay towards Cape Point, it should be on any mountain biker's bucket list to shred these trails until the sun sets behind Table Mountain.
Do not cycle alone. You can't form a train by yourself. 4 is better.
Helderberg trails HQ. Coffees, breakfast, cakes, cold drinks, fresh produce and other mouthwatering eats. Check.
Quick caffeine spike before we head up. With an elevation gain of about 600m, the climb is long and relentless, but the trails have been built to contour up gradually where possible.
Granny's Forest - the only part of the trail network under tree canopy. From here things open up as you ascend the exposed Helderberg face.
Countouring up with our destination in sight at the foot of the Helderberg mountain.
Views for days across False Bay, and all the way to Table Mountain.
As high up as we can go. Dropping in from here, it's downhill all the way to the bottom, with various line options to get you there.
The steep, upper rocky sections are what make the Helderberg trails one of the top DH and Enduro destinations in the country. Proper technical, loose trails that can catch you out at any moment if you don't show the required respect.
Helderberg Trails hold a special place in my heart for good reason. I grew up in Somerset West, just down the road from the mountain range. I have been riding this mountain ever since I can remember. It has been my training ground. I actually did my first Downhill race on this very hill back when I was 13. I could not pass up the opportunity to help redevelop and build Helderberg Trails with my partner Jan Van Schalkwyk. We pride ourselves on providing trails for every type or rider and skill level.
Singletrack from the mountains to the ocean. #winning
I might sound biased but I have seen trails centres all over the world and love the variety we have and know we have worlds class trails. The higher you climb the better the views get. You got to earn it here but its more than worth it. You get some serious panoramic views of False Bay and the Winelands. Once at the top, you have a variety of trails to choose from to get you down. We want the rider to come out and form their own loops and combinations.
After growing up riding the Helderberg mountain for at least 15 years, it's amazing to have Helderberg trails 5 minutes ride from home. I've done my fair share of riding around the world and I can honestly say we have some amazing riding right on the doorstep. Not many places you can be five minutes from the beach or five minutes the trails.
I would say that the Helderberg trails are the closest playground we have to a 'Euro' style bike park. Not only do they have shuttle access (Yay for multiple gravity runs!) but many of the trails are machine built through beautiful clay based soil meaning wide trails, sturdy berms, and jumps of all sizes. The builders have not shied away from trails that make use of the steep terrain and natural rocks toward the top of the mountain but cleverly, have also built some easy, flowy trails for all levels of rider at the base of the the mountain. Riding with these three super-skilled riders on their local trails was great but the highlight of the day was having a Springbok bolting alongside me as I plummeted down the 'S4P' berms as the light faded to night.
Daniel Dobinson | iRideAfrica
Three's a party. Four's a train.
Helderberg trails will always be a special place to me. I grew up on the neighboring farm, and as a lightie just starting to ride bikes, my dad and I would always ride the original trails. Recently the new trails have become a training ground for enduro and XC riders. The technical trails and amazing scenery overlooking the Helderberg basin just creates a world class riding atmosphere. Whether it's an after-work-burn or a long shuttle day, Helderberg trails has everything you need from big bike park style berms and jumps, to raw rocky sections. True bike riding.
Another average sunset as seen from the Helderberg trails. Put this on your bucket list - you won't regret it.
Helderberg Trails GPS: 34°01'56.3"S 18°50'02.5"E
Riders : Daniel Dobinson | Matt Lombardi | Andrew Neethling | Jonty Neethling
Permit : R50 at the Helderberg Trails Kiosk
All images by Ewald Sadie