Guarded by the majestic Outeniqua mountain range and the Karatara river gorge, the Garden Route trail park is located about 5 hours of scenic driving from Cape Town, or just 40km from the ever popular town of Knysna. Owner and trail builder, Rob Dormehl, has put together a high quality MTB destination that should be on any avid mountain biker's bucket list.
The 3 main loops cater for riders of all levels of skill and fitness, and can be combined to form a 25km long trail of amazing views, tight and technical forest sections and more than a few river crossings. 20km of which is hand built, flowing singletrack with a total elevation gain of about 665m. A hundred bucks gets you access for the whole day, enough time to explore all the trails on offer (more than the 3 main loops) and what's soon to become the biggest pump track in the world.
Contrasting our luck with the previous outing to Piketberg, where miserable and overcast conditions turned into perfect weather for riding and shooting, the Garden Route's weather system threw us a curve ball and turned clear blue skies into instant gloom and rain. Within a period of 20 minutes, clouds moved in and quickly turned things cold and rainy, a typical occurrence along the Garden Route. It is thus recommended that you ride with an over layer of some sort in your hydration pack if you plan to be out there for a few hours. Another handy tip is to rock up with tyres suited to muddy conditions, specially during the wetter months of the year.
Garden Route Trail Park HQ. All the trails are accessed from here and be sure to pop into the Trail Cafe for something to eat afterwards.
Leaving the trail centre, you traverse through active commercial farmland, so keep an eye out for the locals crossing the road.
The greater area through which these trails wind has very little in the form of level surface. You're either going up or down, with some sections getting pretty steep. #intervals
Top of the initial climb and into some wide open, fast, flowing bermy goodness.
Rob has worked magic to fit such an awesome trail network into an unassuming hillside. The mix of fast flowing singletrack, both in open fields and under a canopy of indigenous forest, ensures there is never a dull moment. Regrouping after a section, every one has a war story of a narrow escape and it's impossible to hide the smiles that betray the thrill of the ride.
Descending down into the thick forest the singletrack gets fast and technical with some tight sections for those with wider bars.
Natural beauty with lush greenery and streams as you descend further towards the river.
Ferns, moss and tacky soil.
Our weekend was amazing. From the trails to the crowd that came here. Rob and his team did an incredible job, and I say to them a big thank you for that. They made the best advantage of the mountain to offer an incredible ratio of uphill and downhill. And the cherry on the cake is the coffee shop - good food and big smiles are here to end up a perfect time.
The iconic 'tree-across-the-trail-that-you-have-to-duck-under'. Even after a couple of loops on this trail, it can still catch you out if you don't respect it.
Mechanical issues are part of the game, specially if you put out as much torque as Tyrone and snap your chain. #alwayscarrysparelinks
These trails don't feature much in terms of natural rock gardens, with only a few patches along the way. Best way to ride them is not to ride them at all... just come in hot and skip over them.
Rob Dormehl has put thousands of man hours into the trails here on his farm and this becomes evident when you drop down in the countless single track sections. All the trails flow really well and still keep that natural feel as you wind your way down through the very special indigenous forest. You can't help but return with that silly grin on your face. The trails cater for all levels of rider, and still gives the more advanced riders some challenging terrain. There are also Strava segment boards up everywhere for those Strava junkies!
Tyrone van Rooyen
As the cloud cover got thicker and the rain more and more drenching, we were forced to retire from our ride and head back to base. But we're sure to be back again soon to shred the rest of these trails.
Riders: Matthieu Hamel | Tyrone van Rooyen | Pieter Henning | Romain Belaud
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