A Wagon Road and a Hill … Western Cape

The Cape Peninsula is a pretty place, with fishing harbours and secret beaches and lots of pointy mountain peaks. The only downside for mountain bikers is that every ride starts with a climb …

The Routes

On The Bike:

Here’s how to get onto Ou Wapad: your two best park-and-ride options are either Silvermine Sunbird Environmental Centre (just off Ou Kaapse Weg, via the east-bound entrance opposite the turn-off to Noordhoek).

Noordhoek Farm Village needs no introduction, and if you park here, sneak around the east of the farm village and straight onto the tarmac climb up to Ou Kaapse Weg. Around 3km of gradual ascent later you turn left, keeping to the dirt shoulder until you see the Ou Wapad boom to your left (3.5k).

Round about now is a good time to say Howzit! to your small blade. The initial zigzags are steep, but it really is the gritty surface and erosion ruts that may be an issue to any Ou Wapad noobs. It is best to minimize the torque while constantly seeking out firmer lines as you settle into the climb.

The only tricky section is a steep and gravelly rise jut over 2km into the ascent, but this is completely rideable as long as you stick to your line and keep your weight on the back wheel. The road levels out after this as you navigate the gradual dog-legs to the apex (8km), with excellent views back over the Fish Hoek valley and False Bay.

Once you summit, you have the the whole of Silvermine North Nature Reserve unfolding all round in its fynbos glory.  A magnificent network of paths spider-web into the verdant ridges, but unfortunately these are off-limits to us bike people, so instead stick to the jeep-track as you descend onwards to the main entrance gate.

Wooden poles serve as erosion control along the downhill, but judicious bunny-hops will clear them as you bomb across Silvermine River and onto the tarmac reserve road (10km) climbing up to Silvermine Dam. An easy 2km tarmac climb will get you to the MTB Trailhead; turn right via the parking lot here and then keep left along the gravel track duelling in the direction of Elephant’s Eye.

Suck up the steep switchbacks onto the plateau; fortunately the surface is solid, with dual concrete strips along the final grunt-of-a-climb (14km). The ascent becomes easier here, with a half dozen ess-bends meandering past Noordhoek Peak route (17km). The panorama to the west encompasses the full expanse of Noordhoek Beach and beyond towards Kommetjie.

Best you start focusing on your front wheel though, as a warp-speed drop awaits back down towards Silvermine Dam. The dam will pop into view just on 20kays, and on weekends it is all abuzz with kids and dogs and hikers and accidental outdoor tourists. It’s a pretty good stop if you want to take in the vibe, or even indulge in a refreshing dip.

Up next is a quickie single-track excuse: swing right just below the dam wall, following the MTB Trail signage to your right. Again, the track zigs left onto a gravel road all too soon, blasting you back onto the tarmac road (22km) down towards the main Silvermine North gate, and with Ou Wapad bombing you back to Noordhoek Farm Village (33km).

Those with attitude left in the tank could add a lekker 20km loop by banging onto the ‘Red Hill / Black Hill’ Loop. Zoom along the tarmac route, linking Ou Kaapse Weg to the Black Hill Express Way, turning right at Glencairn towards Simonstown.

Just on 3km from here, turn right again onto the winding Red Hill climb towards Pine Haven Village (a 4km ascent). This forgotten tar road descends gently past an old farm house, then turns left (2.5km) past Lewis Gay Dam.

Pass through a metal boom at the dam wall, climbing a steep, sandy jeep track. At 3.3km, turn right and crank along a gnarly downhill section, across a stream and over Elsies River along a wooden boardwalk bridge. Continue up the valley to a T-junction at the top (6.5km) where you turn right.

Follow the eroded track in via a few outcrops back to the Glencairn Expressway, where you klap a left back to NFV (where the best coffee awaits). Look out single-track to the west side of the tar road; a combo bermed downhill track with butt-clenching table-tops, jumps and huge drops await.

NOTE: There have been bike jackings along this route, so ride in a group and take all the necessary precautions. The Black Hill flow track is not consistently maintained, so scout it first, too.

Off The Bike:

Coffee options – Village Roast, undoubtedly a top-class take-away choice (in my opinion 9/10 on the Caffeinometer). Should you prefer to sit down and grab a bite as well, you will not be disappointed by the eateries on offer. This is a kid- and dog-friendly spot of note, so if you’re not into a wholesome farm-style family vibe, stick to Camps Bay –

Go get stuffed at any of the following spots –

Café Roux:
Unwind at this family-run and laid-back, café-style restaurant, open daily for breakfast, lunch and cakes. The coffee kicks in at 7/10, and my top-choice meal is the ‘Earl’s All Day Breakfast Croissant’ – www.caferoux.co.za

Food Barn Restaurant:
With a name like Franck Dangereux, you’d expect a guy to be a world-famous chef, and you know what? You’d be damn right. This is more of a lunch and dinner venue, but still a place where gourmet goodness blends with that Noordhoekian, barefoot country feeling. Their night-time food-and-wine pairings are out of this world – www.thefoodbarn.co.za

Food Barn Deli & Tapas:
More Dangereux delights, albeit focussed on a brilliant bakery, sumptuous take-aways and delectable finger food during their evening tapas settings. The flat whites offer your best coffee fix, again around 7/10 – www.thefoodbarn.co.za

Toad in the Village:
Known to affectionate locals as ‘The Toad’, this is very much a ‘stories, sports and pints kind of country club’, created by Bobby Skinstadt and some mates. Their pizzas are top-class and they also have a brilliant selection of craft beer (in bottle and on-tap). Because of the beer, I’ve never had a coffee here, sorry about that – www.thetoad.co.za

Village Sushi:
Low-key but special, this little restaurant makes out part of the De Noordhoek Boutique Hotel and fresh fish is sourced daily to ensure the best quality sushi, while the menu also offers a wide selection of other Asian delicacies. – www.noordhoekhotel.co.za/sushi

Best time of year:
Trails sandy in summer; waterproof gear a must in winter.

A Look Around

Route Maps

22/06/2023 07:59

Ou Wapad / Silvermine Loop

Copy the following HTML iframe code to your website:

  • Distance Instructions
  • Distance 18 km
  • Time 0 s
  • Speed 0.0 km/h
  • Min altitude 0 m
  • Peak 0 m
  • Climb 837 m
  • Descent 837 m
 Secure parking, ablutions and restaurants

Ou Wapad & Silvermine
GRADING: Intermediate
DURATION: 2-3.5 hours
 Circular / Return
 Noordhoek Farm village
34°05’50.6″S 18°22’39.8″E
Gravel road and jeep-track; some dual- and single-track
 Download electronic map at www.sanparks.org
 Wild Card & Activity card; or fee payable at gate
 Limited to a couple of main trail junctions
 Secure parking, ablutions and restaurants
Good – about 80% coverage
Watch out for hikers; loose surface and ruts on downhill
Check out www.mtbroutes.co.za


Getting There

Follow the M3 from Cape Town towards Muizenberg, then keep right along the M42 onto the M64 (Ou Kaapse Weg). Silvermine Nature Reserve (North) is on your right just as you reach the top. Continue for another 3km and turn right to get to Noordhoek farm Village.

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