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 Number 7 in our TREAD Top Trails of 2020.
Paul Cluver & Oak Valley – No. 7
Photo: FNB Wines2Whales/Tobias Ginsberg
Location: Elgin, Western Cape
Best suited for: Beginner, Intermediate and Experienced riders. Western Cape Beginner, not Gauteng Beginner. The former are accustomed to steeper gradients and singletrack. One challenge for Beginners though are the A-Frames over the fences on Oak Valley’s trails.
What we love about it: The scenery. It’s probably the most scenic riding you can find in South Africa. But in addition to incredible scenery, the trails are stimulating and varied and the environment is peaceful. These are two separate trails parks, but because they are neighbours, they have an arrangement for trail-sharing.
The trails are situated at the foot of the Groenlandberg Nature Reserve, which is a protected 34 000ha area rich in fauna and flora, including some sections of highly endangered Renostervoeld vegetation, leopard and a wide variety of antelope, small mammals and birds.
This a highly productive fruit and wine producing area with both trails parks sharing the name of the wines produced on their respective properties.
Signage: The signage is very good on both farms. You may need to ask the gatekeeper at Oak Valley where the board with the large map of the trails is as it’s a bit obscured. The Paul Cluver parking and trails starting point isn’t obvious, so just ask someone if you’re unsure.
Photo: FNB Wines2Whales/Nick Muzik
Grading: As with many South African trails parks, the trails aren’t graded according to IMBA’s skill level grading system. You can, however, find the Oak Valley Trails on Trailforks, here: https://www.trailforks.com/region/grabouw-forestry/and the Paul Cluver Trails on Trailforks here: https://www.trailforks.com/region/paul-cluver/, where most trails are rated Blue.
Most prefer to start and finish at Oak Valley and ride trails on both farms. You need to ensure you buy the permit to ride both when you arrive (at either farm). Being able to ride both farms adds more distance and diversity to your ride.
Both farms have their own coloured trails. These colours denote the trail name and not skill level required. Both trails venues offer showers and safe parking.
Blue: 12.5km, 230m ascent
Red: 24.5km, 530m ascent
Black: 36.5km, 890m ascent
Blue Short: 8km, 220m ascent
Blue Long: 11km, 275m ascent
Red: 34km, 740m ascent
Black: 43km, 1000m ascent
Off the bike: The Elgin Railway Station, which hosts a market on weekends, coffee every day and food and drinks on Wednesday and Friday evenings is very popular with visitors to the region. The Peregrine Farm Stall is a famous stop-off point for travellers passing through, with its restaurant, bakery and farm stall offering high quality food and local produce. And then there’s the Trail’s End Hotel, geared to offer accommodation specifically to mountain bikers and trail runners.
Summary: The Oak Valley and Paul Cluver mountain bike trails parks offer more than just scenic riding. They have high quality, purpose-built well-marked singletrack trails that are highly engaging and well maintained and which are used annually for the prestigious FNB Wines2Whales mountain bike stage race. Well worth a drive from Cape Town for a day or a weekend.
Photo: FNB Wines2Whales/Nick Muzik
Paul Cluver: R50 (kids are free); R70 combo to cross to Oak Valley
Oak Valley: R50; R30 for kids; R70 combo to cross to Paul Cluver
Security rating: 4/5
Oak Valley: https://oakvalley.co.za/mtb/
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 email@example.com 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/
Number 10: Northern Farm, Johannesburg, Gauteng http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-number-10/
Number 9: Holla Trails, Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-number-9/
Number 8: Giba Gorge MTB Park, Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-number-8/