Wilderness Trail | Country Trail | Gravity Trail
Banhoek Conservancy Mountain Bike Trail in Franschhoek, Western Cape Boland, is one of the best mountain bike trails to experience in SA.
Beginner, Intermediate and Experienced riders.
It wasn’t too long ago that there were no established mountain bike trails in the Franschhoek area. But that’s changed entirely, and it’s now home to one of the country’s most exemplary mountain bike trail networks.
There’s a junction between Stellenbosch (our No. 5 trails network) via Bothmaskop, which brings you over into the Banhoek Valley via a piece of bushy singletrack. The descent into the Banhoek Valley is via the Skyfall descent. A switchback masterpiece that’s longer than you expect but, at the same time, over too soon. But, once you’re near the summit, it’s incredibly scenic as you gain elevation and take in the surrounding mountains. The trails form the Banhoek Conservancy network, which offers primarily purpose-built singletrack trails that deliver speed, flow and challenges, eventually dropping you out at the tar road near Pniel.
A few kilometres down that same tar road is the entrance to Boschendal, one of the oldest wine estates in the country and now a mountain biker’s haven. The trail network at Boschendal is expansive and incorporates the slopes of the Simonsberg. As a result, it caters to all rider levels and includes a fair dollop of gradient if you’re an intermediate or experienced rider.
Overall, the Banhoek Conservancy Trails Network includes the Banhoek Valley and Boschendal. You buy your trail permits for Banhoek’s trails at Boschendal or via the website as part of the Wine Lands Regional Permit.
Among the annual events held on the trails are the Savanna Origin of Trails and the Fedhealth MTB Challenge.
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The signage at Boschendal is good, but the directional signage on the Banhoek trails is relatively small, so you only really see it when you’re quite close to it.
As with many South African trails, the trails aren’t graded according to IMBA’s skill level grading system. You can, however, find the Boschendal trails on Trailforks https://www.trailforks.com/region/boschendal-wine-farm-21770/and the Banhoek trails on Tralforks https://www.trailforks.com/region/banhoek-conservancy-trails-26521/ where they are rated either Blue or Green.
At Boschendal, there are five marked mountain bike trails, all starting at the Rhodes Avenue gate:
Black 23km + (Black XL – extensions of Black)
The Banhoek Conservancy Trails are less structured in terms of a specific loop or distance, but there are a few rider-created loops worth tackling here (click on the ‘Routes’ tab): https://banhoekconservancy.org/trails-info/
In recent years, Boschendal has become a multi-function venue, which includes restaurants, picnics under the beautiful old trees, horse-riding, wine-tasting and farm tours. There’s also a pump track and play area which are very popular with kids. The accommodation there is impressive and worth booking for a couple of nights so that you can really experience the trails without rushing.
It’s hard to describe the beauty of riding mountain bikes here. You are surrounded by majestic mountains which alter the horizon to almost a work of art in any direction you ride. The ascents aren’t just a way of getting up, they’re thoughtfully built to make the climbs engaging, while the descents are longer than you expect, which is always a bonus. Always!
There’s a R60 day rate to ride the trails with both Banhoek and Boschendal offering annual permits too.
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