3 Rivers Trails, Eastern Cape
Gabriel’s Loop MTB Trail, Baviaanskloof, Eastern Cape

The Area

The ‘Cloud Mountains’ of the Limpopo Province rate as one of South Africa’s original mountain biking destinations. A robust fat track culture prevails, with contemporary trails suiting the full spectrum of riding styles and attitudes out there. Plus, there’s damn good beer! - Photographs & Copy: Jacques Marais

Local Buzz:

The name ‘Magoebaskloof’ has such a lekker, mythical ring to it that you can’t help but expect a solid dose of forest magic when you head out into the woods here. And you certainly won’t be disappointed if you saddle up and crank into these verdant surrounds, originally (and erroneously) named for Chief Makgoba, the erstwhile leader of the Tlou tribe.

Forested passes along the meandering R71 connects the towns of Polokwane and Tzaneen, with the tiny village of Haenertsburg set centrally to the mountain community who thrives in this rural space. Organic cheese dairies, SA’s northern-most craft beer brewery, avocado plantations, a 2000-year old cussonia kiepersol tree, the Cheerio Tea Garden, quirky ‘Mountain Foodie’ characters … welcome to the ultimate space in which to reconnect with nature.

It is therefore no wonder that Magoebaskloof is at the top of the tick-list for birders, trail runners and hikers, and firmly established as a mecca for mountain bikers. Often referred to as ‘The Land of Silver Mist’, as it is blessed with beautiful views, scenic drives and the cascading waterfalls … go check out www.lovelimpopo.co.za for an overview of this incredible eco-destination.

The Routes

Trail Low-Down:

The TMA Routes are set up and maintained by the ‘Tourism Magoebaskloof Association’ and have been designed to link the top tourism attractions, while offering an awesome MTB experience. Permits are available from Cheerio Trout Lodge and Magoebaskloof Adventures: the cost is R40 per day and kids under 12 are free, and the overall route covers nearly 60km in total.

The Yellow Route (Distance – 17km / Elevation – 375m)

The least technical route links Haenertsburg to the beautiful Cheerio valley along the scenic course of the Broederstroom River. It is a fairly flat and fast 17km ride, perfectly suited to beginners along a mix of mainly forestry roads and some singletrack.

Saddle up at the Cheerio Gardens Coffee shop and follows Cheerio Road (L Road) towards the R71 to wind down through some beautiful indigenous woodland at Glensheil Farm towards Haenertsburg. Just before town, make a sharp right at the old bridge and follow the Broederstroom River back to the Cheerio Valley. The climb out of the valley is fairly tough, but worth it as you traverse the beautiful Sequoia Gardens, Cheerio Trout Fishing and Holiday Resort before returning to Cheerio Gardens.

The Green Route (Distance – 22km / Elevation – 510m)

This is the most challenging of the three routes, with a solid mix of climbing and flowing downhill trail, with a fair serving of singletrack. Start from Cheerio Gardens again to bomb into the Wegraakbosch organic farm, with a technical downhill through their indigenous forest. (Please remember to close the cattle gates.)

Next is a section of the Magoebaskloof MTB XCO track before suffering up infamous Mount Merrick. The summit at Long Tom Monument beckons, with superb downhill switchbacks all the way to the river, which you then follow to Zwakala River Retreat and Brewery.

The last stretch back to Cheerio is uphill but worth it: you traverse the beautiful Sequoia Gardens, via Cheerio Trout Fishing and Holiday Resort and finally back to Cheerio Gardens. (You will want to make time to sample Zwakala’s award winning lagers)!

The Blue Route (Distance – 9km / Elevation – 181m)

This is a short 10Km Route consisting of a good mix of Farm Roads and singletrack, with spectacular across-the-bars scenery. Crank off from the picturesque Mountain Cafe at Blueberry Heights, and then traverse the blueberry and kiwifruit orchards and onto the pallet-bridge to cross the stream.

Turn sharp left (do not go under the bridge, as this is links to Green and Yellow) to negotiate a short uphill singletrack through the pine plantations. This is tough but pretty ridable, and leads onto an easy flat-and-fast pedal around Stanford Lake. Climb towards Stanford Lake Resort before descending on to Fish Eagle Dam, then bomb through the pine forest on some singletrack.

This blasts down past another pretty dam before you’re back into a climb up through the pines, with a long singletrack all the way to Ebenezer Dam. Follow the flat fast waterboard road around the edge of the dam back to the Waterfall Café at Blueberry Heights.

Magoebaskloof XCO (Distance – 6km / Elevation – 160m)

This purpose-built cross-country track is laid out just behind Stanford Lake College, and also serves as a link between the Blue, Green and Yellow Routes. It may be a mere 6km, but is technical and tough, as it consists mainly of singletrack. For those in the know: much of the trail has been designed and built by the renowned Karkloof Trail legend, Hilton Turvey, so you can expect a kickass ride.

Best Time of Year:

The rainy season is from November to January, with severe thunderstorms and harsh midsummer heat. Winter is generally cold and dry, with the mountains often shrouded in swirling mist.


GRADING Easy to intermediate
DURATION 45min – 4hrs (full circuit)
CONFIGURATION Various return routes
START POINT Cheerio Gardens’ Mountain Café; Standford Lake College
TERRAIN Forestry roads, singletrack, some district roads
POST-RIDE BEER Zwakala Brewery – www.zwakalabrewery.com
ACCESS Permit required
MUST-DO EVENT Magoeba Trek 2021 – www.magoebatrek.co.za
CELL RECEPTION Signal along most of the route
TRAILHEAD Various start options
CONTACT Marc at Magoebaskloof MTB – 083 453 1514

Getting There

(and Staying Over)

Haenertsburg is situated on the R71 an hour from Polokwane; turn left 3km after the village en route to Tzaneen on the Cheerio Road and follow the signs to Cheerio Gardens or Zwakala River Retreat.

Accommodation – for a range of accommodation options, visit www.magoebasklooftourism.co.za