Closest Town: Tokai
Grading: Moderate to Extreme | Duration: Up to 2–5 hours
Location (Area/Province): Peninsula and Winelands and Western Cape
Configuration: Various circular or return options, up to 40km
Start Point: Arboretum, Tokai Forest
Access: Fee payable at picnic area; a Wild Card from SANParks must be loaded with an annual MTB permit
Beware of: Slippery during/after rains; baboons, snakes and hikers
Facilities: Parking, information and toilet facilities
Cell Reception: Signal along most of the ride
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All Cape fat tyre fundis eventually trek south in search of the single-track paradise that is Tokai Forest. Blood, sweat and granny gears is the order of the day as you wind your way up towards the Sentech mast, with a range of trail configurations awaiting you on the way down via working plantations and indigenous forest. You’ll find two green route sections, but otherwise it’s blue and black all the way.
On your bike
The trailhead starts at the Arboretum and from here a gruelling stretch of gravel snakes up into the rugged Table Mountain range. The MTB signage along the gravel road indicates access points to single-track sections, but most riders stick to the gravel road all the way up to at least the Level 4 or 5 contour roads (6km from Arboretum). Please respect the signage as a whole lot of the lower level gravel roads are a no-go zone as these are reserved for horse-riding. Also, all the trails are one direction, please don’t enter at an exit point. The only bi-directional trails are Your Roots, Boulders and Puff Adder.
Turn left when you hit contour level 4 if you want to climb further to the Silvermine gate; and look out for a drop to the left and onto the Boulders single-track through stands of pine, probably the sweetest 2kay section in the whole of Tokai. If you instead hang right to Vlakkenberg, a gritty ride will eventually link via Level 4 through to the tar road ascending up to the radio mast.
Head right just before the tarmac to the Mast starts, dog-legging right through a dip and then dropping down onto a wicked set of switchbacks (Switchback Trail). Beware the rainy season here, as it will be rooty and rutted with enough hairpin bends and manic drops to demarcate this as the domain of the technically skilled. Head right again to climb back up, this time to Level 5, before bombing onto the Snake Trails! The Cobra that starts on Level 5 is Black, so if you’re not sure, turn right when you hit Level 4 and then look out for the Blue Mamba single-track dipping steeply down to your right.
Hang on tight, because this is where the fun starts. Basically, you’re railing a super-tube banging across the dirt roads you just cranked up. Twenty minutes of white-knuckle single-track later and with Boomslang, Snake eyes and Rinkhals also conquered, I bet you’ll be smiling, and you’re not done yet… At the bottom of Rinkhals, head right onto the contour road – you have one last decision to make: Are you going to bomb down via the blue Vasbyt or the black DH trail onto Your Roots / My Roots before T-boning onto the gravel road? Now unclench your teeth and whoop it up on an easy home run to the Arboretum.
The guys from Tokai MTB are doing amazing work on the trails with no financial input form Sanparks, so please support them by becoming a member or by donatin
Off the bike
The Peninsula wine routes are a must-do, with no fewer than 24 estates producing world-famous wines. Surfing Muizenberg and Kommetjie, penguins at Boulders, vibey Kalk Bay and historic Simonstown are all within easy driving distance.
Best Time of Year:
Tokai goes off the whole year; in summer, the forest cools down day-time temperatures, while the trees offer ample protection from blasting winds. Expect trails to be snotty in winter, and sections may be closed to avoid damage.
How to Get There:
From Cape Town, follow the M3 for 25km towards Muizenberg, then turn left onto the off-ramp to Tokai (Exit 21), turning right to pass under the highway. Continue on the M40 for 2km past a traffic circle and turn left at Tokai Manor towards the Arboretum.
Table Mountain National Park
Telephone : +27 (0)712 7471
Website : www.sanparks.org
GPS: South 34º 03′ 35.17″ / East 18º 25′ 25.20″