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 Number 10 in our TREAD Top Trails of 2020.
Northern Farm – No. 10
Location: Diepsloot Nature Reserve
Best suited for: Beginner, Intermediate and Experienced riders
What we love about it:
Everyone that rides a mountain bike at Northern Farm can have a stimulating experience. While it’s probably the best trails park in Gauteng for beginners, it’s definitely not lacking in trails that challenge both intermediate and experienced riders.
There are a few dams on the reserve and the Juksei River flows along its western boundary, which make it not only highly photogenic, but also a haven for a variety of birds, boasting more than 270 species.
The generally gentle gradient makes it very manageable for even the most nervous newcomers and the large car park and friendly restaurant and bike wash staff make everything seem uncomplicated, which is surprisingly important.
There is more than 120km of marked and maintained mountain bike trail on the 25000ha piece of land, which is just a 20 minute-drive from Fourways in the north of Johannesburg.
There’s a blend of gravel roads, jeep track and singletrack, which deliver significant variety of riding experiences. The high volume of singletrack has been well thought out and takes riders on long segments of twisting journeys through a range of gradients and terrain, which are equal part challenge and reward.
Signage: The signage is generally good and well-placed colour arrows are used to denote trail name (colour) and direction.
Grading: As with many South African trails parks, the trails aren’t graded according to IMBA’s skill level grading system. Northern Farm is listed on Trailforks though, where it’s trails are all either marked Green or Blue.
Trails: There are a total of five trails as follows:
Pink Route: 8km
Blue Route: 22km
Red Route: 34km
Black Route: 68km
Off the bike: There’s a small kitchen that makes great breakfast/brunch snacks, coffee and sells other cooldrinks – always welcome after a long ride there. The bike wash is excellent and costs R30. Northern Farm as a whole is well managed to cater for the hiking, trail running, birding, equestrian and moto-x communities, none of which seem to encroach on each other.
Summary: Northern Farm is a breath of fresh air, offering a vast trail network for all levels of mountain biker less than half an hour from the city hustle of Johannesburg. There are very few trails parks that can genuinely claim to offer great riding for all levels of mountain biker, but Northern Farm is one of them. It’s just a pity it’s only open on weekends and public holidays.
Cost: R60 per adult; R500 for a 10-entry card and R700 for a 20-entry card.
Security rating: 4/5
Note: The TREAD TOP TRAILS 2020 feature is subjective. If you feel we are missing great trails from our top 15, please email Sean Badenhorst on firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.
Here’s our TREAD Top 15 Trails countdown so far:
Number 14 The Spruit, Randburg/Sandton, Gauteng http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-2/
Number 13: Tokai, Cape Town, Western Cape http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-3/
Number 12: Cradle Moon, Johannesburg, Gauteng http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-number-12/
Number 11: Buffelsdrift, Pretoria, Gauteng http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-number-11/