Closest Town: Plettenberg Bay
Grading: Moderate | Duration: 2 to 3 hours
Location (Area/Province): Eastern Cape and Western Region
Configuration: 22–60km circular
Start Point: Start at Tsitsikamma State Forest office or at Tsitsikamma Forest Inn in Storms River Village
Access: Free self-issue permits available at gate for first section; permit for SAPPI section from Storms River Adventures
Beware of: Forestry vehicles, hikers. On the descent down the pass, beware of water humps across the road – they may not be high, but are steep enough to launch you off the bike
Facilities: Ablution facilities; parking at Tsitsikamma State Forest, Storms River office or Tsitsikamma Forest Inn
Cell Reception: Good
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Tsitsikamma, an ancient Khoi word for ‘place of abundant or sparkling water’, perfectly describes the lush and lovely region surrounding this tiny, eponymous village. It is a place of craggy peaks, secret beaches and temperate rainforest, where giant Podocarpus yellowwoods tower high above deep gorges and tranquil black-water pools.
On your bike
The Storms River MTB route follows the old national road through the Tsitsikamma National Park and along Storms River Pass. A good gravel road winds through spectacular indigenous forest, rich in Outeniqua yellowwood, stinkwood and candlewood, starting off fairly easily along a 2 km level stretch. A steep 5 km descent to the Storms River follows. The low-water bridge is a great place to have a swim, but watch out for strong currents when the river is high.
The climb from the river and onto the coastal bluff is a hard 2 km crank but then the gradient levels out onto the plateau. Take a sharp right and traverse the SAFCOL pine plantations following the MTB route markers for a few more kilometers of flat riding. Don’t miss the viewpoint overlooking Storms River Mouth and the Tsitsikamma National Park. The return trail cuts through a mature plantation before rejoining the original route and a long 5 km climb back to the trailhead.
If you’re keen to increase the distance of your ride, follow the SAFCOL jeep tracks in a clockwise direction to
generally follow the N2 back towards Storms River Village. You could shoot across the highway, or play it safe and cross along one of the flyover bridges to explore dozens of kilometres of jeep track networking through the plantations on the northern side of the N2. Misty Mountain Reserve, literally a stone’s throw away from Storms River Village, has four more trail options on its property for you to explore (www.mistymountainreserve.co.za).
Note: The first 7km of the trail traversing the Storms River pass is through National Parks land there is no charge and a self-issue permit and map is available at the gate at the beginning of the pass. The second section of the pass passes over MTO property to the lookout and you need a second permit for this section these permits are available from the office at Storms River.
Off the bike
Storms River Village is a charming hamlet surrounded by temperate, indigenous forest and pine plantations. The Tsitsikamma Forest Inn boasts comfortable, friendly accommodation in their various cottages. Storms River Adventures offer a whole host of activities, from tree-top canopy tours and day hikes to black-water tubing. A short drive will take you to the Tsitsikamma National Park at Storms River Mouth, the start of the legendary Otter Trail and a host of day hikes. Other options include swimming off a lovely beach, snorkeling, whale-watching (in season) or relaxing at the restaurant and shop. Face Adrenaline also offers the world’s highest bungee jump at Bloukrantz Bridge.
More info: www.stormsriver.com
Tel: +27 (0)42 281 1836
GPS: 33°58’26.6” South / 23°53’14.7” East