What does it take to ensure that the joy of hundreds of kilometres of world-class trails amongst the beautiful hills and valleys of iconic destinations such as the Karkloof, Tranquilitas, Piggly Wiggly and the Champagne Valley can be brought to thousands of riders, and why does it matter to Sappi?

Paid partnership with Sappi

With World Bicycle Day taking place on 3 June, with the aim of appreciating the uniqueness, longevity and diversity of the bicycle, we thought it a good time to kick off a series of articles which shines the spotlight on Sappi’s Trails Programme – an initiative which started back in 2011. Like the bicycle, many of these trails started in a simple fashion and have grown into what some might call artworks, with sculpted berms, flowing switchbacks and carefully revealed views as you pop out of a forest or over the next horizon in a sun-kissed grassland.

When Sappi first embarked on its Trails Programme, our first concern was focused on risk management and ensuring that the safety of riders, walkers, runners and Sappi’s contractors was addressed. With our plantations being part of an operational environment, this was essential. We also knew that for the programme to succeed, we needed to align with strong partners in the cycling sphere, so we collaborated with Amarider as a key partner and aligned to international standards such as those developed by IMBA (the International Mountain Bicycling Association). Through extensive engagement with Sappi’s trail custodians these standards were developed and made applicable for local conditions.

Mountain biking, hiking, trail running, gravel passes, birding and exploring the #SappiTrails set on Tranquilitas Adventure Farm, Mpumalanga escarpment, Karkloof and Piggly Wiggly (both KZN Midlands); and Champagne Valley (Central Drakensberg).

Over the years the programme has grown and taken shape, becoming a flagship programme for us, that truly delivers shared value and social impact which benefits our neighbouring communities and lives up to Sappi’s purpose, which is to build a thriving world by unlocking the power of renewable resources to benefit people, communities, and the planet. With many of Sappi’s own staff being passionate riders, runners and conservationists, the vision of these trails is taking shape to dovetail with Sappi’s prioritised 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets, in this instance, SDG15: Life on Land.

We look forward to bringing you this series of articles which will provide insights into some of the Top MTB Trails managed by Sappi’s trail custodians and helps you understand how you – as an ardent trail user – helps to creates important positive socio-economic impacts in rural areas where tourism and agriculture are the pillars of such economies.

Paid partnership with Sappi