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The best Wine Farms for Mountain Biking in the Cape


1 October 2020  -  Capaia Wines

Mountain-biking has always been big in the Cape and, for whatever reason, lockdown has seen a huge spike in the sport, with more and more locals saddling up in search of cool off-road adventures.

These wine-farm trails are sure to get you rolling, especially when followed by a wine-drenched lunch in the vineyards!

The great thing about riding is that you don’t need to be a die-hard outdoorsy type to hit the dirt. Everyone from foodies and families to pro cyclists and nature lovers can explore the countryside on two wheels.

Which brings us to the Winelands… The Cape is dotted with over 300 working wine farms, many of which – in addition to superb wine and spellbinding views – have mountain-biking trails running through them – with the added incentive of enjoying a wine-drenched lunch after!

Of course, riding and hiking naturally allow for physical-distancing, so they tick the Covid-safety boxes, plus they’re pretty safe from a security point of view.

We went in search of the best vineyard trails – from scenic family meanders to strenuous lung-busting rides – to suit just about anyone, even walkers. Here are some ideas to get you rolling.

Which are your favourites? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Please note: The trails are weather-dependent, and might be closed due to heavy rain and/or waterlogging. Please enquire prior to visiting.

Find a Winelands trail:
Franschhoek
Stellenbosch
Northern suburbs
Elgin
Paarl


FRANSCHHOEK


Boschendal
Boasting some of the most spectacular mountain and vineyard views in the Cape Winelands, Boschendal is a haven for nature lovers and hedonists alike. While wine wine-tasting, lunch or a picnic on the lawns come highly recommended, there’s no better way to really experience the beauty of the surrounds than on a bike. If running is more your thing, choose between a 5km or 10km route. Visit the Trail Centre and one of the friendly staff will tailor-make your farm adventure.

Once you’re done with your ride or run, be sure to swing by the brand-new farm shop and deli for a beautiful array of take-home treats, gifts, frozen meals and more. Better still, book a table at The Werf and enjoy a laidback lunch overlooking the gardens.

Route The estate is home to five marked trails that begin just before the Rhodes Avenue security gate – Yellow Route (4km), Green Route (9km), Blue Route (11km), Red Route (15km) and Black Route (23km) – and snake their way through a well-maintained single track, a Jeep track and a section of farm road.

Duration Varies
Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? Yes, but on a leash on the walking and running trails only.
Cost R50 riding permits (available for purchase from the Trail Centre). Permit fees go towards building and maintaining trails.

E-bike rental: R800 per day
Single-suspension rental: R200 (half day); R350 (full day)
Full-suspension rental: R350 (half day); R500 (full day)
Kids’ bike rental: R150 (half day); R300 (full day)
Times Monday  – Saturday, 8am – 4pm
Sunday, 8am – 4pm

Contact 074 502 0997 (Frankie), trailcentre@bmtsa.co.za
Where to find it Boschendal Wine Estate, R310 Pniel Road, Franschhoek

Mont Rochelle
Overlooking the sweeping Franschhoek Valley, where meadows and vineyards stretch out towards distant mountains, Mont Rochelle’s illustrious 40-hectare estate is steeped in majesty. Visitors wishing to explore the estate on two wheels can hire bikes from Franschhoek Cycles and enjoy a tailor-made guided tour that includes personalised wine tastings and even a picnic in the mountains!

Fell like a hike? Explore the estate on one of the hiking trails – being careful to stay on the walkways, and keep out of the vineyards. Collect the required permits and maps from the Tourism Office in the centre of Franschhoek.

Route Varies
Duration Varies, depending on route.
Child-friendly? Confirm with provider, as cost includes wine tastings.
Dog-friendly? No

Cost R1 350 per person (guided half-day tour, includes tastings at three wine farms)
R1 550 per person (guided full-day tour, includes tastings along the way)
R1 750 (guided half-day e-bike tour, includes tastings along the way)
Good to know Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve on the opposite side of the valley is part of the UNESCO Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve, and offers spectacular views of Table Mountain and the ocean on a clear day! The new Winelands Trail, which starts at the nature reserve’s car park and connects with the Lower Cats se Pad Trail, is a 3.5km circular route. Permits for the nature reserve (R50 for adults and free for children under 16 years) should be collected at the gate, using SnapScan, Zapper or Mastercard to pay. 

Times need to be arranged with Franschhoek Cycles.
Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm (hiking at Mont Rochelle Estate and Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve)
Contact Mont Rochelle Estate: 021 876 2770, enquiries@virginlimitededition.co.za
Franschhoek Cycles: 021 876 4956, info@franschhoekcycles.co.za
Franschhoek Tourism Office: 021 876 3603
Where to find it Mont Rochelle Estate: Dassenberg Road, Franschhoek
Franschhoek Cycles: Shop 6, Le Rue des Roses, 2 Main Street, Franschhoek
Franschhoek Tourism Office: 62 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek


STELLENBOSCH

Muratie Wine Estate

In Knorhoek Valley north of Stellenbosch, Muratie Wine Estate is one of the oldest in the country, dating back to 1685. Delicious wine aside, there is a challenging but rewarding single mountain-biking track that traverses part of the Simonsberg Mountain. Built by experienced track-builder Meurant Botha and his Dirtopia team, it’s a technical trail, ideal for experienced bikers. After your ride, pop by the Farm Kitchen for some sustenance.

More comfortable on foot? Opt for a scenic singletrack trail run or hike, with various routes and durations taking you through the forest just above the cellar.

Route Rides begin on the estate and take you through the Simonsberg Trail system: a maze of single tracks easy enough for beginners and challenging enough for intermediate and experienced riders.
Duration 35km, but you can tailor-make your own distance depending on which loops you choose.
Need to know Indemnity forms must be completed prior to riding. Trail permits and details can be obtained from the Dirtopia outdoor office at Muratie. The tracks are not suitable for children or inexperienced cyclists.

Child-friendly? No
Dog-friendly? No
Cost R60 per person
Times Monday – Sunday, 8am – 3pm (winter)
Monday – Sunday, 7.30am – 4pm (summer)
Contact 021 865 2330, info@dirtopia.co.za or info@muratie.co.za
Where to find it Muratie Wine Estate, Knorhoek Road, Koelenhof, Stellenbosch

Jordan Wine Estate + Bottelary Hills Mountain Bike Trail
Rolling hills dotted with vineyards and farmlands, the Bottelary Conservancy is host to a slew of farm road trails, Jeep tracks and singletracks suited to all fitness levels, one of which begins at Jordan Wine Estate.

Route Head out from The Bakery at Jordan and snake your way up into the vineyards for epic views of the Winelands, Cape Town and Table Mountain, while taking in the indigenous flora and fauna of the region. You’ll encounter some challenging hills, but you’ll be rewarded with an awesome downhill ride. Loopback to The Bakery for a well-deserved cup of Black Magic coffee and a freshly baked pastry.

Duration 9km round loop
Need to know Day passes available from The Bakery.
Child-friendly? No, unless they are skilled on their mountain bike.
Dog-friendly? No
Cost R60 per day
Times Monday – Friday, 8am – 4.30pm
Saturday & Sunday, 8am – 4.30pm
Contact 021 881 3004, thebakery@jordanwines.com
Where to find it Jordan Wine Estate, Stellenbosch Kloof Road, Vlottenburg

Helderberg Farm
This Stellenbosch gem is suitable for easy strolls with the family, harder hikes, trail runs and mountain-biking. The MTB trails – that were built by farm owner Jan van Schalkwyk and pro rider Andrew Neethling – are ideal for the downhill addicts among us.

Good to know Helderberg Farm is known for its delicious and pesticide-free strawberries. Although it’s not self-picking season yet, limited stocks of strawberries are available at the kiosk. Pop by the outdoor restaurant for coffee and a bite after your ride or run.

Route Start at Helderberg Farm Café, or The Hangar Bike Co (next to the R44).

Duration 12km with a 600m climb (intermediate to difficult).
Need to know Phone before you leave to check if the 4×4 dirt trails are open. And please do not drive through the planting fields, as a way of side-stepping the locked gate.
Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? Yes, but should be on a leash at all times. No aggressive pooches allowed.
Cost Hiking: R35 (adults)
R25 (children 5 – 18 years)
R25 (seniors)
Trail running: R30 (adults)
MTB: R60 (adults)
R30 (children 5 – 18 years)
R30 (seniors from 65 years)
4×4 dirt trail permit: R150 + R200 refundable deposit (per vehicle for route 1)
R250 + R200 refundable deposit (per vehicle for route 2)

Times Monday – Saturday, 8am – 5pm
Contact 021 855 4308, helderbergfarm@mweb.co.za
Where to find it Helderberg Farm: Klein Helderbergpad Road, Stellenbosch

Dornier
At the foot of Stellenbosch Mountain, Dornier’s trails are suitable for intermediate and expert riders alike, with over 6km of singletrack. After your expedition, pick up a few cases of wine (this family-owned, sustainably farmed winery specialises in Bordeaux varieties).

Route With the purchase of a day permit, you will gain access to the Dornier route, as well as the popular Wannabees Cycling Club routes that boast a vast network of over 150kms of trails in the Winelands.

Duration Around 7.5 km (6km of which is singletrack).
Need to know Purchase your permit at the Wine Lounge. No hiking or walking is permitted on the bicycling trails. And, walking is allowed on the farm with prior arrangement only.
Child-friendly? Yes, but intermediate to expert level is recommended.
Dog-friendly? No
Cost R60
Times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Contact 021 880 0557, info@dornier.co.za
Where to find it Dornier Wines, Upper Blaauwklippen Road, Stellenbosch


NORTHERN SUBURBS


Meerendal Wine Estate
What started in 1714 as a farm of 60 000 vines has flourished into a booming winery that produces popular flagship wines. Overlooking spectacular views of the Boland Mountains and surrounding vineyards, the estate’s trails are open for running and mountain-biking. And, having hosted the Cape Epic, this family-run farm is fit for an active outing.

If you’re after a lazy afternoon stroll around the dam, follow the path below to refuel with a coffee and a baked treat from Meerendal Farm Stall or lunch at Carlucci’s.

Route The start and finish points of all the trails are at the security gate, but some of the routes are under repair. New signs have been posted and will help you navigate the way.

Need to know Registration forms for new membership permits and day passes are available at the security gate.

Please note Bikes are not permitted on the estate’s main roads. There is a designated bike park in view of security cameras, but locks are still recommended.

Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? No
Cost Mountain-biking day entry: R50 (adults); R350 (half-year membership 2020)
R20 (pensioners over 60 years; students 18 – 24 years); R200 (half-year membership 2020)
R20 (children 1 – 17 years); R120 (half-year membership 2020)
Walking and running day entry: R30 (adults); R230 (half-year membership 2020)
R10 (pensioners over 60 years; students 18 – 24 years); (R160 for 2020 half-year membership)
R10 (children 1 – 17 years); R80 (half-year membership 2020)

Times Tuesday – Sunday, sunrise – 5pm
Contact 021 975 1655, info@meerendal.co.za
Where to find it Meerendal Wine Estate, Vissershok Road, Durbanville

Bloemendal Wine Estate
Established in 1702, Bloemendal Wine Estate is one of the largest wine farms in the Durbanville area. The expansive Biosport Cycle Track caters to all ages with trails suitable for professionals, and young children alike.

The Kids Zone and Biosport Café are open for coffee, cold drinks, smoothies, toasted sandwiches, burgers and chips. Bike hire and fitments are also offered.

Route Various, depending on which skill level you would like to ride. The Bloemendal South Trail begins with a drop into the popular B- Spot singletrack, an easy warm-up for your legs. The Bloemendal North is for the fitter and more technical riders.

Duration 36km total distance of trails. Depending on which Bloemendal trail and fitness level, it’s around 1 – 1.5 hours to complete.

Please note Follow social-distancing rules and don’t ride in groups of more than four people. Sanitise your hands before and after rides, and wear your mask when in crowded places, such as the café.

Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? No
Cost R50 (adults)
R30 (children under 18)
Free (Tygerberg Mountain Bike members)
Permits and bike rentals can be obtained at Biosport in the bike park
Times Monday – Sunday, 8am – 5pm (closed on public holidays)
Contact 060 657 6344, shop@biosport.co.za
Where to find it Bloemendal Wine Estate, Tygerberg Valley Road, Oude Westhof, Durbanville

Capaia Wine Estate
Established in 1997 by the Von Essen family, this beautiful 140-hectare estate is located in Philadelphia, a mere 30-minute drive outside Cape Town. The trail network, handcrafted by Adrian Winsor of Trail Blazers South Africa, boasts magnificent views of the Swartland hills and Table Mountain in the distance.

After your ride, pop into the bike-friendly Olivia Deli at the Trail Centre; Mariella’s Restaurant serves lunch, with views fit for a king.

Route Ride along the Jeep track between the vineyard blocks or on Adrian’s hand-built singletrack. All the listed trails are well-marked.

Duration Varies, 15km in total.
Need to know Contact Capaia to confirm availability, as they accommodate 25 people at any given time due during Covid-19 social-distancing protocols.
Good to know The barn also has full ablution facilities with showers.

Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? No
Cost R40 (MTB)
R20 (running and walking)
Times Wednesday – Friday, 7.30am – 3pm
Saturday & Sunday, 7.30am – 3pm
Contact 072 770 9695, trails@capaia.co.za
Where to find it Capaia Wine Estate, Botterberg Road, Philadelphia


ELGIN

Oak Valley
Along the Groenlandberg Mountain Range, in one of the coolest wine-growing regions in South Africa, lies Oak Valley Estate in the picturesque Elgin Valley. Apple and pear orchards, rolling vineyards and ancient oaks create a postcard-perfect scene – the ideal setting for a glass or two of chardonnay or pinot noir…)

Those looking for some adventure relish this terrain, rated as one of the top mountain-biking destinations in the country, which includes a well-maintained single track, with bridges over farm fences and streams. It’s no wonder the Absa Cape Epic and FNB Wines2Whales have taken place here.

Route Avid mountain-biker and local winemaker Pieter Visser designed the routes to accommodate all skill levels. From the Racing Snake and Strava Hunter to TrailBlazer and Weekend Warrior, there is something for all riders.

Duration Varies. The blue route is shorter than the red route, which has several interlinked black loops and is more suited to advanced riders.

Need to know Only groups of 10 people will be permitted. No trail-running allowed.
Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? No
Cost R50 (adults, day permit)
R30 (children, day permit)
R70 (Paul Cluver & Oak Valley combined trail)
R500 (annual membership)
Times Monday – Sunday, 6am – 6pm
Contact 021 859 2510, mail@oak-valley.co.za
Where to find it Oak Valley Wine Estate, 127 Oak Avenue, Grabouw

Paul Cluver Estate
This fourth-generation family business, more than 120 years in the making, was instrumental in putting the Elgin Valley on the map as a premium wine-producing region. Mindful of the environment as well as the community, the owners have placed more than half of the estate under conservation.

The mountain-biking trails offer a well-rounded adventure of the valley as a whole, combining one of its trails with neighbouring Oak Valley Estate.

Bike rentals are available through Elgin Adventure Centre (071 509 1747).

Route Just beyond the delivery gate, there’s a play park nestled among fig trees. Or venture out on a selection of trails: the blue routes are Jeep tracks and the red routes single tracks that include bridges such as Poffadder and Witklippieskloof and the rolling switchbacks in Mamba, Cobra, Jakkals, Pine singles and the berms.

Duration Depends on route.
Need to know Please don’t pet the livestock or litter. By booking online, you agree to the indemnity policy.

Please note Stick to the designated trails, and strictly no hiking or trail-running allowed on the MTB trails.

Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? No
Cost R50 (adults, day permit)
R30 (children, day permit)
R70 (Paul Cluver & Oak Valley combined trail)
Times Monday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Contact 021 844 0605, info@cluver.com
Where to find it Paul Cluver Estate, De Rust Estate, N2, Grabouw
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PAARL

Spice Route
A mere 45-minute drive from the city, Spice Route’s delightful village setup is the perfect daytrip destination for the whole family. One of its attractions is Paarl Adventure Trails, a network of tracks suitable for the whole family’s enjoyment, with over 50km of trails that span vineyards, olive orchards, livestock paddocks and citrus plantations, as well as parts of the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve.

Not in the mood for a ride, hike or run? Take a relaxed stroll around the property and stop by De Villiers Chocolate and The Trading Company.

Route The mountain trails range from a basic 2.5km to the more complex 40km tracks. A 100-meter Choc-O-Trail track is also available for the little ones.
Duration Varies

Need to know Day passes should be purchased at Brenda’s Deli (where you can also stock up on jams, preserves and other pantry goodies).

Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? Yes, on a leash.
Cost R80 – R100
Times Trails: Monday – Sunday, 6am – 6pm
Brenda’s Deli: Monday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Contact 083 384 2976 or 076 022 5141, info@hero-adventure.co.za
Where to find it Spice Route, Suid Agter Paarl Road, Suider Paarl

Rhebokskloof Wine Estate
Amid rolling lawns and hundred-year-old oaks, Rhebokskloof lies between the granite hills of the Paarl Rock mountains. Part of a 200km trail that’s managed by Paarl Adventure Trails, it’s an ideal place for outdoor adventure enthusiasts to embark on a number of exciting mountain-biking trails.

Biking not your thing? Bring the little ones and walk the paths, or do a trail run with your dogs.

Route There are five custom-built trails in the form of single tracks, Jeep tracks and hiking trails that lead from the estate through the diverse Paarl mountainside and back again, showcasing spectacular scenery along the way.

Duration 3km to 35km.

Need to know You will need to register for and purchase your day permit at the Trail Centre or the restaurant at Rhebokskloof Wine Estate before setting off. You may use SnapScan or the honesty box if either office is closed.

Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? Yes, on a leash.
Cost R80 – R100
Times Monday – Sunday, 6am – 6pm
Contact 076 022 5141, info@hero-adventure.co.za or info@rhebokskloof.co.za
Where to find it Rhebokskloof Wine Estate, Wine Route no8, Rhebokskloof Wine Estate, Paarl