Closest Town: Stellenbosch
Grading: Intermediate | Duration: 1-4hrs
Location (Area/Province): Peninsula and Winelands
Configuration: Various options
Start Point: Delheim or Muratie parking or Dirtopia Trail Centre
Access: Annual or day permits obligatory; available at the Dirtopia Trail Centre, the Muratie Tasting Room or online at www.dirtpass.co.za
Beware of: Various natural obstacles, potential of snakes and trail runners
Facilities: Ablutions and bike wash at the Trail Centre; restaurants and wine tastings at the estates; safe parking at all three
Cell Reception: Good
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This collection of trails in the Knorhoek Valley, combining loops on Uitkyk, Delheim, Simonsberg and Muratie, has world-class potential as an MTB destination and may rate as the high point of Meurant Botha’s illustrious trail-scaping career. If you don’t believe me, let your bike go do the talking … The 4 loops are rated moderate, with distances from 5.5km up to 40km, and there’s loads of single-track.
Think Whistler Bike Park in Canada, or some multiple trailhead in Colorado in the States, where a bunch of great trails come together for some serious MTB stoke, and you will get some kind of idea where the overall mountain biking vision of the Simonsberg Conservancy in Klapmuts (just outside Stellenbosch) is heading. The trails can be accessed from the Dirtopia Trail Centre at Delvera, but closer (and very safe) parking is available at Delheim and Muratie.
On your bike
Basically, you’ve got a 5.5km loop on Delheim, 6.5km on Muratie, 7.5km on Uitkyk and finally another 9.8km on Simonsberg, so in total making for just under 30km of hand-crafted trail from the Dirtopia crew, excluding the optional bits and link trails. This is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg though as hundreds of meters of single-track are being added every month, with links envisaged to at least a dozen wine estates within the immediate Stellenbosch area.
Mountain bikers will find the trails designed to suit all levels of riders, with well-planned contours making the ascents relatively easy. The Delheim Loop links to Muratie via the ‘Dozer’ switchback, and this takes you onto the superb Ho Chi Minh section. Continue via ‘The Elevator’ and ‘Jackson’s Jaunt’ onto Gillooly’s, a connecting point with a good site map to show you exactly where you are.
The “Smuggler’s Traverse’ trips you up to one of the highlights of your Simonsberg ride: get ready to pin back your ears as you bomb into the ‘Uitkyk Bush Tunnel’, arguably one of the most contested Strava segments in Cape mountain biking. At ‘Angus Junction’, loop right onto the ‘Uitkyk View Trail’ for breathtaking views across the whole of the conservancy.
Various configurations will bomb you down to the trailhead from here, and when you get to know the trails, you’ll be able to do more and longer loops. Or you can head onto the Simonsberg loop, where the ‘Never say Never Ending again’ has 10km of continuous single-track.
Make sure to stick to the directional signs to ensure not only your own safety, but also that of other riders and trail runners. Check out www.facebook.com/simonsbergtrails/ for events, night rides and to find out the latest news on the trails.
Off the bike
The Stellenbosch Wine Region is world-famous for its restaurants, farm stalls, hiking trails and a whole host of other attractions. Enjoy excellent wines at both Delheim and Muratie, either at a wine tasting or together with a delicious meal at one or their estate restaurants. There is also a picnic area at Delheim and Muratie boasts The MOK art galary as well as lovely accommodation.
Best Time of Year
You could say this is a ride for all seasons; summers are hot though, while there is a good chance of mud and rain in mid-winter.
How to Get There
Follow the R44 from Stellenbosch towards Klapmuts for about 8km and look out for the Delheim signage where you will turn right into Knorhoek Road. (If you carry on straight on the R44 you’ll reach Delvera and the Dirtopia Trail Centre on your left, where you can also get information and a permit.) After 1km on the Knorhoek Road, head left towards Muratie / Delheim. Muratie will be on your left after nearly 2km and Delheim will be about 1km further.