We’re fortunate to have such a variety of mountain bike trails in South Africa. From inner-city mountain bike parks to remote wilderness trails, from free-to-ride trails on public land to privately owned mountain biking gems. Since we launched TREAD in 2009, our crew has ridden most of South Africa’s mountain bike trails. Here’s a look at our top 15.
The Spruit – No. 14
Location: Johannesburg, Randburg, Sandton
Best suited for: Beginner, Intermediate and Experienced riders
What we love about it: The Braamfontein Spruit is a river that runs northwards through Johannesburg’s northern suburbs. Over the past two decades, the green belt it occupies has become a source of great enjoyment for various outdoor activities, including mountain biking. Initially, trail-building and maintenance were done unofficially, but about two years ago it got more formal, with the establishment of non-profit organisation, Jozi Trails, and there is now around 40km of urban singletrack that’s consistently maintained and security patrolled.
Many complete beginners do their first few rides on the Spruit because it’s so accessible and unintimidating. If you’re a marathon racer, you can get in a decent 2-3 hour ride by incorporating ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ directions – or vice versa, depends where you join the trail. It also incorporates some large City of Joburg parks, including Delta Park, Emmarentia Dam/Botanical Gardens and Alberts Farm.
Signage: Since Hollard began to support Jozi Trails, the company responsible for the Spruit trails, signage has been added in places. But it’s not classic trail signage, but rather to indicate which sections are for mountain biking and which are for walking/running to eliminate any potential collisions. It’s best to initially do some rides with a local or Spruit regular to find out where the different trails go.
Grading: The trails aren’t graded. It’s a common sense system. If the trail segment looks challenging and risky, avoid it…
Trails: The distance you ride is up to you. There’s no formal trailhead although many use the car park at the intersection of Conrad and Hillcrest roads as their start and finish point (outside Sprocket & Jack bike shop). For the younger or more skilled riders, there are some segments that offer world-class jumps and berms, including the Scout Hall jumps in Bryanston, Hurlingham Jump Line in Hurlingham and the Top Line and Tree Line at Delta Park, among others.
Off the bike: Because the trail passes through many suburbs, there are plenty of coffee-stop options. In most of the area south of Conrad Drive, it’s a very child- and beginner-friendly place to ride, with other park-like activities and play areas to be found.
Summary: Possibly South Africa’s most popular mountain bike trail, The Spruit offers a stimulating ride for all levels of rider – you just need some local knowledge (or a Spruit regular) to find exactly which sections have your ideal fix.
Cost: Nothing – it’s all on public land/city greenbelt.
Security rating: South of Conrad Drive 3/5, north of Conrad Drive 2/5.
Note: The TREAD TOP TRAILS 2020 is subjective. If you feel we are missing great trails from our top 15, please email Joanne on firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.
Look out for the remainder of our top 15 picks over the next few days…