Closest Town: Sedgefield
Grading: Intermediate | Duration: 90min-2hrs
Configuration: 3 interlinking loops
Start Point: Garden Route Trail Park reception near Barington
Access: Day or annual pemit needed. No cash! Pay via the mySoS App or EFT with your name and cell number as reference
Beware of: Trails are technical (and sometimes closed) when wet
Facilities: Trail Café / Coffee shop, ablutions, picnic area, parking, pumptrack and BMX track
Cell Reception: Reasonalbe reception along the routes
You may think you know the Garden Route, but I’ll take side bets not many of you have been up the Karatara / Ruigtevlei / Barrington Road. Here’s the thing though – the new Garden Route Trail Park is gonna change this pretty quickly. Boasting with 3 trails, 10km, 13.6km and 16.4km, along jeep-tracks and at least 20km of stunning purpose built single-track, this is a must ride.
On your bike
This rural corner immediately to the north of the N2 highway consists mainly of farmland and forestry plantations. Good news for mountain bikers heading this way, as more and more private landowners are creating trails to drive outdoor tourism. Even better if, as in the case of GRTP, the single-track links onto the nearby Farleigh Forest Trail Network, which allows you an additional 50km of riding, including some lung-buster climbs. (A Sanparks permit is required for these trails. For more info go to /www.sanparks.org/parks/garden_route/tourism/activities/mountain_bikes.php#green)
It’ll be difficult to spot the rumoured elephant as you give it gas along fast and flowing trails designed by a mountain biker, and for mountain bikers. Start off from Reception (near the kick-ass Pump Track – a never-ending loop system with the outer loop designed as a BMX track for those who want to test their talent with a bit of air), immediately heading to the mountains along a gravel road by-passing the milking sheds.
Say goodbye to the cows and look out for a sign to your left onto the Yellow (Forest Frenzy) Trail just before the 2km mark. A few berms and jumps zip you into a thick, wooded area along a small stream, with a gentle ascent out into open terrain where you join the Blue (Crazy Creek) Trail at around 4km.
An ess-bendy chute bangs you down towards the river, with some superb track built here within the shade of ancient trees. (I think this proved to be my favourite part of the ride, with that ‘Lord of the Rings’ deep-forest feel you sort of expect when you visit this part of the Garden Route.) There’s a lot of criss-crossing and looping and dipping and diving as you switch from the Blue onto the Red (Jungle Fever) Trail, but fortunately you get a map as part of your permit when you pay at Reception.
Although all the routes are rated as ‘Moderate’, there are moments on Jungle Fever when you’re at warp speed that you’re bound to be tested. Once you run out of Red, joll back home on the Crazy Creek Blue Trail; berms, bridges, kickers, it is all there, but the beauty of the GRTP is that you can ride within your capabilities all the time, irrespective of whether you’re a Rookie or a Pro.
Off your bike
Sedgefield and Knysna is an easy drive away if you want to experience the beach thing, with exceptional sea kayaking, surf-skiing and snorkelling on offer. And the restaurants, pubs and delis rock if you need to feed that post ride hunger.
Best Time of Year:
Year round, but rainy weather often sees the trail park closed for a few days, so check before you set off.
How to Get There:
Drive 20km from Knysna towards George on the N2, turning right at the Ruigtevlei/Karatara sign. Cross the railway line and drive for 18km, following the signs to Barrington. At the T-junction turn right and look out for the GRTP nearly immediately on your left.