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 8 in our TREAD Top Trails of 2020.
Giba Gorge MTB Park
Giba Gorge makes good use of its natural gradient and is a favourite for the local gravity/sender riders. | Photo: Visual Outdoor
Location: Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal
Best suited for: Beginner, Intermediate and Experienced riders.
What we love about it: It’s really close to a large number of residential suburbs in the Highway Area, from Westville through to Hillcrest. It’s not quite an Urban Bike Park, because of its size, but it’s not far to travel to for many and is less than 30-minutes drive from most Durban suburbs. Giba Gorge MTB Park caters for all kinds of riders, which works well with the current diversification of South African mountain biking. There’s a UCI-level BMX track which hosts events and offers kids a safe, fun riding zone. Although you’re so close to the residential and industrial sprawl, you mostly feel like you’re far away on a sub-tropical trail far from the chaos. Giba Gorge has become an important ‘home trail’ for many a mountain biker and we love how the club has become so focussed on growing the youth market, with loads of focus on trails and features that appeal to the growing ‘sender’ market.
Signage: The signage is good. There are some spots where you’re unsure if you should branch off or not, but by sticking to the main, signed trail, you always seem to complete your intended loop, even if you feel you might have missed a turn (it’s almost entirely a lush forest so your bearings are sometimes challenged). Giba Gorge uses colours to denote its main trails, but has also adopted the IMBA grading system, which has resulted in a lot of Blue, Green and Black signage in segments.
Grading: Although the trails are colour-named, they are also IMBA-graded in certain segments, mostly Blue with some Green and some Black and Double Black Diamond. Find the Giba Gorge Trails on Trailforks here.
There are three main mountain bike trails at Giba Gorge – Purple, which is aimed at Beginners, Green, which is aimed at Intermediate riders and Blue, which is aimed at stronger, more Experienced riders. These trails have a combined distance of 30km with another 10km of other trails that are built for the gravity-riding market. These segments of trail that Downhillers and Enduro riders use are helping grow the youth mountain bike segment, which is firmly more focussed on fun and skill over distance.
Don’t be fooled by the distances though. The 14km Blue Trail has 344 metres of vertical ascent which you gain much of via switchbacks up the southern slope. It also has 344m of vertical drop, which means your concentration levels need to be at their best. The 11.2km Green Trail has 244 metres of ascent and mostly sticks to the northern slope. What you never experience is any kind of boredom or feeling like it’s just a grind. Almost every metre of trail on the Green and Blue Trails are singletrack through dense indigenous vegetation. It’s intense riding. On Trailforks, there is also a marked 20km route with 635m of ascent that’s properly challenging. You can find it here.
Most of the Giba Gorge trails are in lush indigenous forest. You feel a million miles away from the urban chaos.
Purple: 5km, 118m ascent
Green: 11.2km, 244m ascent
Blue: 14.1km, 344m ascent
There are also steeper trails with jumps and drop-offs and a fun jump line and skills park near the trailhead.
Off the bike: Giba Gorge has a restaurant and picnic area for those keen to linger longer. There are also hot showers and a kiddies play area.
Summary: Giba Gorge is one of the original mountain bike trails parks in South Africa. What it lacks in distance, it makes up for in vertical riding, offering both challenging and rewarding riding experiences for all levels of rider, just a short drive from most of Durban’s western suburbs. It’s a progressive MTB trails park that’s moving with the times.
Cost: Adults R75, Kids R45
Security rating: 4/5
A jump line and skills area near the trailhead are a fantastic feature at Giba Gorge.
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: