Closest Town: Thornhill
Grading: Various - refer to fact blocks | Duration: Various - refer to fact blocks
Configuration: Various - refer to fact blocks
Start Point: Various - refer to fact blocks
Access: Various - refer to fact blocks
Beware of: Various - refer to fact blocks
Facilities: Various - refer to fact blocks
Cell Reception: Mostly good
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The idea to link three existing trail hubs in order to offer more than 200km of marked routes, including at least 70km of single-track sections to the local MTB community seemed like an impossible dream, but three local enthusiasts made this a reality. Brett and Grant Puttergill and Didier Duc got permission and agreement from over 15 land owners as well as an agreement with MTO to develop single-tracks in the forestry and sell a permit which grants riders access to the Longmore Forest and can now provide riders of every level with a variety of unlimited world-class trails.
What can be better than being able to ride freely across the whole area between the Gamtoos River, Van Stadens River and the Elands River, without any boundaries, on one permit? The individual courses combine to guarantee an excellent day of play on your bike. Most of the routes are purpose-built with single-track to bliss you out for hours on end.
On your bike
CROSSWAYS caters to both rookie riders and the more hardcore XC racing snakes. Across the bars, you will see peaceful scenes of pastoral beauty unfold as you crank into the forested hills and amidst lazily grazing Holstein cattle. There’s certainly nothing lazy about the trails though …
Local mountain biker Grant Puttergill has put together a killer 6km Black Mamba route on which you will be bombing into a veritable single-track paradise. Immediately crank onto the single-track in the direction of the N2. Zigzag through a bamboo forest and along a tight few bends through indigenous Albany thicket, before bombing through blue gum stands on a clockwise circuit back to the start. There are bridges, drop-offs, log jumps, roots and a full gamut of natural obstacles to keep you focused along this super-fun ride.
Here’s a quick overview of the individual trails at Crossways:
Yellow Monkey: Easy, gravel road, jeep track & single-track, including a few technical parts, but with Chicken Runs, so well suited to beginner riders. 14km / 1hr
You’re Gorgeous : This is a new 800m loop added to the Yellow Monkey. It drops down into the gorge which lies to the left of the lower section of the Yellow Monkey and then climbs out of the gorge along a non-perennial stream and joins the long Drop climb, leading back to the Yellow Monkey. This loop is best suited for riders who are comfortable with moderately technical and steeper terrain. There are some beautiful pools at the bottom of the descent – well worth a stop.
Green Apple: The link between Woodridge Trails, Crossways Trails and the Jbay Bike Park. Moderate route, tar and gravel road, jeep track plus single-track, with minimal technical or natural obstacles. Suitable for intermediate riders. 25km / 2-3hrs
Black Mamba: Difficult route, 99% single-track, with technical sections, steep downhills and killer climbs. Rocks, sand and roots will test your skills, so more suited to advanced riders. 6km / 1hr
Red Holstein: Difficult route, with some tarmac and gravel, as well as jeep track and superb sections of single-track. Expect some proper technical parts to the ride, with steep drops and climbs. Advanced and intermediate riders will have an excellent time out on this one – no cell phone reception. 29km / 2-3hrs
Baby Monkey: Easy route, suitable for kids and beginners. Route goes through Crossways Farm village and the blue gum forest along jeep track. 5km / 30-60min
Grand Holstein: An extension of the Red Holstein route with 80m extra climbing on contour jeep track. Steep up-and downhills with sand, rocks and roots in some areas. Suitable for advanced riders. Certain areas do not have cell phone reception. 34km
The J-BAY BIKE PARK also boasts with a number of 100% single-track trails accessible to all levels, as well as the feared Black Route and its Wall of Fear where most riders opt for the Chicken Run! Their Blue Route is perfect for beginners, with sections of 1km to 4.5km to build your confidence and skills. Access to the infamous 65km Black Porcupine Route with almost 2.000m of climbing is also at the J-Bay Bike Park. The views on this one is absolutely incredible, and it is perfect training for races such as the Epic or PE to Plett. Recently the Black Porcupine has received a non-technical gravel road extension of 25km, bumping your ride up to 85km with over 2 500m of climbing – welcome to the Grand Porcupine!
Here’s a quick overview of the individual trails that make up Jbay Bike Park:
Yellow Cat: Moderate route, some tarmac, gravel road, jeep tracks, but mostly single-track, with a few technical sections. Switch backs, bridges and steep uphill – suitable for intermediate riders. 20km / 2hrs
Red/Blue: These routes crisscross the Zebra Lodge property, with around 8km of riding in total. The technical level is fine for beginners, while intermediate riders can really push the speed to build your confidence and skills on this.
Black: This varies from Easy to Difficult, with 100 % single-track and some pretty technical bits. Steep descents and ascents, plus numerous bridges – suitable for all level of riders, but rookies can expect to walk some sections. 12km / 1hr
Black Porcupine: This is not to be confused with the BLACK ROUTE, as you are in for 60km-plus of hardcore pedalling. There are long uphills, steep downhills, technical single track and narrow bridges with sand, rocks and roots in some areas. Access starts from Jbay Bike Park, with nearly 2 000m of solid ascent on the ride. The views are superb though – 60km / 4-6hrs
Grand Porcupine: This route has a 25km, non-technical gravel road extension of the Black Porcupine route which makes it the longest and toughest route at 3Rivers Trails. Your climbing will be bumped up to 2 500m and do note that once you’ve split from the Black Porcupine onto the Grand porcupine there is no option for a short cut… 85km
The best thing about 3 Rivers Trails is that you can link all of these amazing routes off road, including access to the Woodridge School Route. A sneaky Green Apple Route (30km) actually allows you to crank from one venue to the next, even traversing the Van Stadens River Gorge!
At WOODRIDGE SCHOOL you’ll find some more lovely technical riding, ranging from easy to very technical, with the purpose-built route that more or less follows the perimeter of the 240ha estate, offering some exhilarating and challenging single-track riding. No less than 95% of the 7km course is groomed single-track, dipping and diving through beautiful tunnels of indigenous bush, plantations and some open grassland. Some steep downhills and uphills, rocks, sand and roots in some areas will keep you on your toes.
In the end, it’s your call as to what you’d like to ride, really: is it going to be a hard core day combining gravel-grinding and enduro riding along the Black Porcupine Route; maybe some technical and tight single-track at Jbay Bike Park, plus some air-time on the pump track; or do you want to surrender to the superb flow of the ‘Holstein Routes’ traversing the tranquil farm lands around Crossways?
Whatever option you go for, I guarantee you maximum fun!
CROSSWAYS: Fast Facts Block
GRADING: Easy to Difficult
CONFIGURATION: Circular Options, 6-34km
START POINT: Crossways Country Kitchen
COORDINATES: S33°53’51.98” / E25°10’31.64”
TERRAIN: Gravel road, jeep-track and superb single-track
MAP: Available at www.3riverstrails.co.za
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Annual permits online and pay via EFT; Day permits cash at the Crossways Country Kitchen honesty box
FACILITIES: Restaurant and ablutions – www.facebook.com/crosswayscountrykitchen
CELL RECEPTION: Reasonable reception along the routes
BEWARE OF: Rocks, sand and roots in some areas and drop-offs
J-BAY BIKE PARK: Fast Facts Block
GRADING: Easy to Extreme
CONFIGURATION: Circular Options, 5-85km
START POINT: J-Bay Bike Park
COORDINATES: S33°54’09.51” / E25°05’37.14”
TERRAIN: Gravel road, jeep-track and superb single-track
MAP: Available at www.3riverstrails.co.za
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Annual permits online and pay via EFT; Day permits cash at the J-Bay Bike Park honesty box.
FACILITIES: Braai facilities, accommodation – www.jbayzebralodge.co.za
CELL RECEPTION: Reasonable reception along route
BEWARE OF: Switchbacks, lots of bridges
WOODRIDGE SCHOOL: Fast Facts Block
GRADING: Easy to Very Technical
CONFIGURATION: Circular options, 3.5-6.6km
START POINT: Woodridge School
COORDINATES: S33°54’55.87”/ E25°12’18.66”
TERRAIN: Single-track, rocky sections
MAP: Available on www.3riverstrails.co.za
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Annual permits online and pay via EFT
FACILITIES: Ablutions & water at Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve
CELL RECEPTION: Good
BEWARE OF: Some challenging rock gardens, slippery when wet
Off The Bike:
Port Elizabeth has it all. Golden beaches for surfing, slouching or real excitement as the Sardine Run comes past in June/July accompanied by whales, dolphins and sharks. Exceptional hiking trails (Alexandria or Sacramento), horseback outrides, Big 7 viewing, amazing 4×4 venues, and even elephant-back safaris in Addo … come do it all!
Best Time of Year:
The weather here is as friendly as the city. Come all year round; the Friendly City is rated as having one of the most temperate climates in Africa!
How to Get 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 (look for the Hankey sign). Turn onto the R102 towards Humansdorp and continue on this route for 2.6km where you’ll find the Park entrance on your left.
Web site – www.3riverstrails.co.za / Tel +27-83-778-9487