Closest Town: Stellenbosch
Grading: Intermediate to technical | Duration: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
Location (Area/Province): Peninsula and Winelands and Western Cape
Configuration: Options from 10–45km
Start Point: Jonkershoek Reserve Main Gate
Access: Day permit for MTB trail from gate
Beware of: Pine tree roots, heat and snakes in summer; poor signposting
Facilities: Self-catering cottage, tea garden, ablutions
Cell Reception: Good
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To understand Jonkershoek you really have to appreciate that it is a commercial forest, and that it is regularly harvested. This means trails are always changing, disappearing, rebuilt, morphing into different routes and generally keeping you on your toes. This means that almost any trail you ride in Jonkershoek today will be completely unrecognisable in two years’ time.
On this note, trail-scaping guru Hylton Bonazan Turvey recently relocated from his home base in Howick to put in some serious work in Jonkershoek for a few months. This has moved Jonkers from Level Kief to Level Epic, with enough sweetly bermed single-track and gnarly hoicks to keep even the most hard core trail freak smiling. That is, until fires razed much of the plantations, forcing trail closures throughout the nature reserve.
On your bike
Best you check with the locals re trail status before you saddle up to ride here … In short, let’s just say that the Jonkershoek MTB Trail is based around a 10km gravel road loop traversing the valley floor in an anti-clockwise direction. It is a good idea to stick to this flow because of the dangerous combo of speed and blind corners on some sections.
From the gate, follow the gravel road for 400m until you see a building on your left hand side, turn left toward this and almost immediately you will see the Lower Canary trail on the right. This is the start of your climb, but fortunately it is a rather fun ascent starting on smooth single-track before passing through a few rock garden sections.
Pedal higher and higher, crossing two jeep-tracks on the way; the third jeep-track signals the top. Turn right here and continue on the gravel road, fork right at 7.5km and continue around. Hang a left at 8.3km and ride till you can go no further, and turn around. After 400m, take the fork to the right and keep straight. Keep right at the junction you will find at 11km and continue the gentle ascent along the contour path.
At 17.5km, turn left onto the main jeep-track and continue until almost exactly 20km, where you’ll find yourself back at the top of the Canary trails. You don’t need us to tell you what to do from here, let alone what to expect. So, deep breaths, eyes open, attack!! See you back at the start.
Off the bike
Stellenbosch is South Africa’s second oldest town and, with its charming character, historic architecture and oak-lined avenues, it is a dream weekend destination. Wonderful wine farms, mountain hikes, exceptional trout fishing, stunning country stalls, delectable berry farms and quirky restaurants will keep you busy for days.
Route information: MTO Forestry at the entrance gate to the Reserve
Telephone: +27 21 866 1560
Website : www.capenature.org.za
GPS: 33°58’06.00” South / 18°56’4.8” East