Closest Town: Knysna
Grading: Intermediate | Duration: 90min-2hrs
Location (Area/Province): Garden Route
Configuration: Circular (anti-clockwise)
Start Point: Krisjan-se-Nek picnic site
Access: Permits obligatory! Purchase at the Thesen Island Office or the Goudveld Forest Station entrance. Annual and seasonal tags also available
Beware of: Bush pig poop; singletrack overdose on home run
Facilities: Ablution facilities at start; fairly secure parking
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Homtini does not quite boast the full range of mountain-biking experiences that the Harkerville trails do, but it nonetheless offers an awesome 19km circular ride through the tranquil Homtini Forest. The trail traverses the steep mountain slopes overlooking the town of Knysna, so you can be certain of panoramic views of both the forested slopes and dramatic river gorge.
On your bike
Kick off from the Krisjan-se-Nek picnic site to climb along Millwood Road before hitting a sharp right onto Pomp se Pad about 400m from the start. This bangs you off the gravel road and straight onto 3km of single-track traversing dense, indigenous woodland. Zigzag to your heart’s content while you bomb the tight berms and turns for a true taste of what mountain biking should be all about.
Once you’re back out into open space, head left along a network of forestry service roads and bottom out into the valley below and the Lawnwood River. Take time out to taste the Coca-Cola water and have a dip to cool off, because the long climb to Portland Hights is now waiting for you.
The time has come to kick up the work rate, so slip onto the small ring to labour your way up the steep and testing 3.5km climb. The terrain along the jeep-tracks may be a bit gnarly in places, but you should win the war against gravity to summit along Portland Heights and be rewarded by a stunning view of the area.
Continue on your anti-clockwise circuit along the juddery gravel road until it eventually levels out as you approach the Jubilee section. Pass both this and the Millwood turn-offs as you bang along this speedy contour road, then hit a hard left back into the forest and onto Boer se Pad at the 14km mark to huck into a final section of warp-speed single-track to blast the downhill into the finish, with the last km back on the Millwood Road.
All in all, this is an exceptional ride, but be aware of the brutal climb and a few tight, technical sections along the descent. If Harkerville is the King of Knysna rides, Homtini competes with Petrus-se-Brand in pretending to the throne.
Off your bike
Hike the forest trails, bring your binoculars and go for trogons and touracos, or pack a picnic basket to drink in the deep-forest surround sound. The Rheenendal Ramble takes you to the artists and crafters in the area, while the coastal town of Knysna will entice you with a range of action and leisure activities. Restaurants, farm stalls, art galleries, craft outlets, delis and cafés range from the quirky and quaint to drop-dead elegant.
Best Time of Year:
As for most trails within the Knysna Forest, you need to check whether the trail is closed due to wet conditions before you set off. Other than this, it is a trail for all seasons, with excellent riding experiences especially in spring and early summer.
How to Get There:
Travel west along the N2 from Knysna towards George before turning right about 7km out of town in the direction of Rheenendal. Drive along this tar road for about 13km before turning right towards the Goudveld / Millwood / Jubilee Creek Forest Station onto the Bibby’s Hoek Road. The road becomes gravel here. At a four-way crossing, after 2km, you’ll reach an entrance boom where you must sign in and can buy your permit. Out of season, this boom might be open, and you’ll have to purchase your permit form the Thesen Island office. From here, continue for a further 2km to the Krisjan-se-Nek picnic site (on your left) where the trail starts.
Telephone: +27 (0)44 389 0252 / Thesen Island: +27 (0)44 302 5600
Knysna Cycle Works
Telephone: +27 (0)44 382 5153
Website : www.knysnacycles.co.za
GPS: 33°55’00.54” South / 22°57’30.71” East