Closest Town: Fish Hoek
Grading: Moderate | Duration: 1 - 4 Hours
Location (Area/Province): Peninsula and Winelands and Western Cape
Configuration: Various circular options
Start Point: MTB parking area
Access: Entry fee payable at gate; SANParks Wild Card must be loaded with annual MTB permit
Beware of: Watch out for dogs and hikers. Tackle the downhills with caution!
Facilities: Secure parking; ablutions and picnic site
Cell Reception: Good
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Silvermine North offers a good workout ride of moderate difficulty mostly along jeep-tracks which you can beef up by adding the Ou Wapad to your crank after completing the 9km Silvermine circuit. There is some hefty climbing involved, but the views over the peninsula are magnificent.
On your bike
The mountain biking trail starts 1.9km from entrance Gate One – look out for a gravel parking area and sign to your right. This is not a purpose-built trail, so don’t expect fireworks to go off in your skull. Enter through metal boom at the trail head and turn left 50m later along a rutted road gently ascending towards the Elephants Eye cave (north). Pass the gravel turn-off to your left at 1.3km, cranking into the switchback ascending towards the Sentech radio mast visible in the distance.
Just on to 2km into the ride, the surface changes to dual concrete strips (which will help with traction along this steep section of the climb) before you eventually crest (2.2km). Pass the faint route to the fire lookout hut on the right and carry on straight up. Feel the burn as you look out over False Bay and the Atlantic, ascending in a westerly direction to top out at the ride’s highest point (775m at 4.5km). The panorama to the west encompasses the full expanse of Noordhoek Beach and beyond towards Kommetjie.
This is where the fun really starts; follow the front wheel as you blast into the spiral of s-bends carving the fynbos ridge but watch yourself on those berm take-offs though. It will take you minutes to zigg all the way back to below the dam wall, and here you need to look out for the sole stretch of single-track signposted to your right. There’s quite a bit of rock and sandy patches to negotiate as you follow the course of the Silvermine River before turning left after just on 2km. Climb towards the tar road and cross it back into the MTB parking lot (9.3km).
Beef up your ride by zooming right down the tar road to just before the park entrance gate, where you hit a sharp right onto the gravel track. Vavavoom through the dip before doglegging to your right, ignore any turnoffs until the 11.9km, where a gravel road slips off sharp left. Follow this and bang down onto the vertiginous Ou Wapad to link to Ou Kaapse Weg at 14.5km. Historically, this was the road used by ox-wagons before Ou Kaapse Weg existed, and the farmers of the Deep South used this route to get their fresh produce to Cape Town.
Work it, either back up the gruelling Ou Wapad, or otherwise along this infamous tarmac climb all the way back to the Silvermine turnoff left at 18.8km and through the gate (19.2km). A quick 2km climb will see you back at your car with a smile on your face.
Off the bike
Day hikes are popular, especially to Elephant’s Eye, a cave with a bird’s-eye view of the South Peninsula. Shady picnic sites and mountain streams offer cool respite in summer.
Best Time of Year:
Summer can be a bit sandy in places and take wet weather gear in winter – the weather here can change in the blink of an eye.
How to Get There:
Take the M3 (Blue Route) from Cape Town toward Muizenberg. Keep right at the end of the M3 and on to the M42. After about 1km take the M64 / Ou Kaapse Weg and drive up the pass until you’re almost at the top. Silvermine Reserve (North) is on your right just before you crest. The MTB Trailhead is on your RHS 2km into the reserve.
Contact: Table Mountain National Park
Telephone : +27 (0)21 712 7471
Website : www.sanparks.org
GPS: South 34º 04′ 34.48″ / East 18º 24′ 23.26″