3 Rivers Trails, Eastern Cape

Dude, there is rollicking riding to be had in the good old EC, a largely unexplored province where you can crank till your legs go blunt. Anything goes, from those rough-shod trails tripping through the Frontier Province’s interior, to a whole bunch of brand new coastal routes.

The Area

‘Three for the price of one’ sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Well, that’s what you get at the 3 RIVERS TRAIL Hub near Jeffreys Bay, with a resulting 200km-plus of marked routes and a whopping 70km of single-track. This nigh impossible dream was realised by three local MTB enthusiasts (Brett and Grant Puttergill, and Didier Duc).

Together, they managed to get permission from over 15 land owners – as well as Cape Pine – to develop single-tracks and provide a permit granting rider access to Longmore Forests and the surrounding farms. This constitutes the whole area between the Gamtoos-, Van Stadens- and the Elands Rivers, all on one permit. All individual routes combine to guarantee an excellent day of play on your bike along purpose-built single-track and forestry roads.

The Routes

The original trail started first at Woodridge School, and this trail enthusiasm soon spilled over to Crossways Village. Local mountain biker Grant Puttergill put together a killer 6km Black Mamba route on which you will bomb a veritable single-track paradise, suited to both rookie riders (think chicken runs) and those hard core XC racing snakes.

Blast off immediately onto some slayer single-track heading in the direction of the N2, zigzagging through a bamboo forest. A tight few ess-bends through indigenous Albany thicket will deliver you into a stand of ancient eucalyptus trees, from where you can follow a clockwise circuit back to the start.

Everything goes, from fence stiles, wooden bridges, drop-offs, log jumps and snaking tree roots to the full gamut of natural obstacles, all the while keeping you focused. It is a super-quick and fun ride, and chances are you would want to do another circuit, but remember that this now links onto the rest of the amazing 3 Rivers Trail, including J-Bay Bike Park.

This where you will discover the Continental kiffness brought to the region by Frenchman Didier Duc, who I was lucky enough to bump into on his home trail. Initially I kakked myself, because here was a man with a panga and a Doberman on a short lease blocking my descent, but it turned out he was busy clearing trail.

The route is fantastically marked and designed to maximize the natural contours of the steep valley rising alongside the N2 highway. Zippy descents, sharp climbs, tight turns, bush tunnel blasts, wooden boardwalk sections and dippy water-containment jumps all combine to pack an incredible amount of fun into this 10km or so trail.

Around 99% of your riding is on single-track trails, mostly accessible to all levels, but the gnarly Black Route does feature the ‘Wall of Fear’. If you’re a noob, definitely opt for the Chicken Run here! The 4.5km Blue Route is great for beginners, though, so head out and build your confidence and skills.

Good news is that access to the infamous 65km Black Porcupine Route starts here, with 2 000m of solid climbing lying in wait. The views are the ultimate payoff though, and it makes for superb training rides for events such as TransCape, Epic or PE-to-Plett.

The fantastic thing about ‘ 3 Rivers Trails’ is that you can link Longmore, Crossways, Woodridge and J-Bay Bike Park from a single trail hub, and all along  gravel roads or trail. This is done mostly on the sneaky Green Apple Route (30km), along which you can crank from one venue to the next, even traversing the Van Stadens River Gorge en route!

The weather here is as friendly as the locals so come any time of year, as this part of the Eastern Cape is rated as one of Africa’s most temperate climates. PE is just down the drag, and here you can have it all. Golden beaches for surfing and swimming; the excitement of the Sardine Run in June//July, with whales, dolphins and sharks; exceptional hiking in Alexandria and Sacramento; plus horseback outrides, Big 7 viewing, amazing 4×4 routes and even elephant-back safaris!



GRADING: Easy to Difficult
DURATION: 30min – 5hrs
CONFIGURATION: Circular options, 6-28km
START POINT: Crossways Country Kitchen
GPS COORDS:  S33°53’31.9” / E25°10’51.5”
TERRAIN: Gravel road, jeep-track and superb single-track
CELL RECEPTION: Reasonable reception along the routes
BEWARE OF Rocks, sand and roots in some areas; drop offs


GRADING: Easy to extreme
DURATION: 45min – 5hrs
CONFIGURATION: Circular options, 1-65km
START POINT: J-Bay Bike Park
GPS COORDS:  S33°54’16.1” / E25°05’30.2”
TERRAIN: Gravel road, jeep-track and superb single-track
CELL RECEPTION: Reasonable reception along route
BEWARE OF Switchbacks,Lots of Bridges

Getting There

Follow the N2 from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, exiting onto the Crossways off-ramp, not long after crossing the Van Stadens Bridge. Turn right at the top of the off-ramp towards the Crossways Country Kitchen. The exit for the J-Bay Bike Park is the next one (Hankey). Turn onto the R102 towards Humansdorp and continue on this route for 2.6km where you’ll find the Park entrance on your left. More info at www.3riverstrails.co.za / Tel +27-83-778-9487

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