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Karkloof Country Club

Howick - KwaZulu-Natal

Ridden this Trail? Review it now
Ridden this Trail? Review it now
Trails: 416
Total Distance: 507Km
eBikes: Yes
Shuttle-friendly: Yes
Cost: R80 - Adults | R30 - 6 to 18 Years & Pensioner | Free - Under 6 Years
Security Rating: 4/5
Nearest City/Town: Howick
Trail type: Wilderness Trail | Country Trail

Trail Park Summary

Wilderness Trail | Gravity Trail

More information:

https://www.karkloofclub.co.za/

Trailforks Information:

https://www.trailforks.com/region/karkloof-country-club/

Security rating:

4/5

Websites:

https://www.karkloofclub.co.za/day-visitors-application/

Karkloof Mountain Bike Trail – rated number one in SA.

Best suited for:

Beginner, Intermediate and Experienced riders.

What we love about it:

The flow. We have encountered passionate mountain bikers throughout South Africa (mainly in the Western Cape, to be honest) who think their local trails are the ultimate flow. While this is great in terms of local support, it’s not true. Only those who have ridden these trails will understand trail flow’s real meaning – and feeling. And unless you have travelled to Karkloof and ridden those trails properly, you cannot make any claims like this without expecting to be corrected by anyone whose biking life the Karkloof trails have enhanced. Truly, Karkloof is SA’s best mountain biking trail.

What you can expect:

Karkloof is confirmation that you don’t need mountains for excellent mountain biking; you just need hills. And a trail-builder that knows how to stitch the ascents and descents together in a way that makes you feel like you’re eating your favourite ice cream and can’t wait to go back for more.

Hylton Turvey, a mountain biker that grew up in Karkloof, is the reason for the legendary flow on these trails. He understands the area better than anyone. While expanding his trail-building services to build courses in other parts of the country, his finest work remains at Karkloof, where he still lives.

Until recently, the Karkloof and Howick trails were run separately but next to each other. It’s all under one management now, which is good because Howick’s tracks also have character. There’s flow, but not Karkloof flow. There are more challenging sections, where rocks and roots force you to make quick decisions and offer more skilled riders stimulation.

The Karkloof trails comprise of two sections; the southern section, the most extensive section on Sappi-owned land, and a smaller northern area on Mondi-owned ground. Overall though, the Karkloof trails fall under Sappi as the responsible landowner. And this is great because Sappi is a big supporter of mountain biking in general and mountain biking on its land in particular.

There are no apparent fences between the Sappi and Mondi land at Karkloof. The trails on the Sappi land begin in glorious earnest almost from the trailhead itself at Karkloof Country Club. In contrast, the best of the courses on Mondi land requires a good bit of time and energy. Climbing to the highest ground towards the west before basically surfing your way back down some of the most fantastic singletracks you will ever experience – known as the Outback Trails because they head out and come back. Much of the land is for forestry, so many routes weave through forest singletrack or on forest roads. There are some open sections of grassland and some farmland too.

A new section of trails called the Milk Trails is on a local dairy farm in Denleigh. These trails are only open when the forest fire hazard is high, and the regular trails are closed.

The Karkloof Trails:

Although you can ride all day and not cover all the trails, there are seven marked routes at Karkloof Country Club catering for the majority of mountain bikers as follows:

3km – Beginner with 19m of ascent

15km – Intermediate with a high percentage of singletrack and 332m of ascent

20km – Beginner/Intermediate with a high percentage of forest roads and jeep track and 336m of ascent

23km – Intermediate with a high percentage of singletrack and 449m of ascent

37km – Intermediate/Experience with a high percentage of singletrack and 690m of ascent

55km – Experienced with a high percentage of singletrack and over 1000m of ascent.

The only events/races held at Karkloof each year are some KZN MTB Enduro Series rounds and the Sappi Karkloof Festival, which incorporates a variety of mountain biking disciplines over three days. It acts as a fundraiser for the Karkloof trails network.

Have you experienced Karkloof?

Please tell us what you think by leaving a review of your ride.

Additional Trail Facts

Signage

The signage is generally very good, as long as you’re vigilant. Out-of-towners can ride quite confidently without fear of getting lost, but make sure before you start your ride exactly which route you’re tackling. During normal opening hours, there’s a big screen at the trailhead with all the routes and maps for you to examine.

Grading

The Karkloof Country Club trails use the IMBA Grading System with appropriate trail signage. The trails and marked routes are also all uploaded to Trailforks, where the trails are mostly Blue, with some Green and a few Black. You can access the Karkloof trails here:https://www.trailforks.com/region/karkloof-country-club/routes/ According to Trailforks, there are a total of 416 recognised mountain bike trail segments covering a total distance of 507km.

Off The Bike

You’re in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, which is packed with touristy things to do. However, once you’ve spent a morning or an afternoon riding the Karkloof trails, it’s unlikely you’ll want to leave. If you do need a break from riding through, you can find a lot of cool off-the-bike stuff here: https://midlandsmeander.co.za

Summary

Riding the Karkloof Trails changes you as a mountain biker. Every other trail you ride thereafter gets compared to Karkloof, either subconsciously or loudly and enthusiastically, over a cold beer with your mates. No matter how many times you go and ride the Karkloof trails, when you leave, a small part of you stays behind, but it’s a fair trade because when you leave, you take part of Karkloof trails away with you. In your soul.

Cost

A day pass is R80 for adults or R30 for pensioners (over 65) and youngsters (6-18 years). Kids under 6 ride free.

Trail and Facilities Rating
Trail Ratings
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Trail Head
Trail Description
Trail Signage
Trail Maintenance
Trail Quality
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Post Ride
Trail Reviews
Terence Vrugtman
17 May 2022
I love the Karkloof valley, but I guess the trails never lived up to the hype. I hoped to do the 50km odd trail and was lost in the first 15km... The signage was poor and confusing and the trail wasn't as flowy as I have heard from word of mouth. The sections we managed to do, weren't maintained at all. We cut the ride short and enjoyed a delicious slice of cake.
BRYAN MINCHER
03 May 2022
Signage was terrible very difficult to find your way around, I understand with harvesting and changing the trails it gets difficult but frustrating if it’s your first time riding here. We were disappointed with the 30km trail was 80 % Forest rd - again could be because of the harvesting etc. the single track that we did find was average. I think next time we will ride with a local to get us onto the better trails. Used trail forks today and managed to find some pretty decent single track. Worth a visit but check which trails are open and closed.
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Mahen Naicker
29 March 2022
excellent trails very well maintained being a newbie with MTB fell in love with it after riding Karkloof well done to the team at karkloof for this beautiful trails watching the Cape Epic thought that Cape town has the best trails but was wrong Karkloof is the Best cant wait to get back on the trails
Hamish
10 March 2022
These have to be the best trails in the country. Beautifully built, flowy and tech. Everything you could want for every skill level. Very clever trail building.
Jim Ramage
10 March 2022
Some of the best trails in ZA Great challenges Fun Riding Locals are really friendly and you can tag along and benefit from local knowledge.
Alison Dallas
07 February 2022
The best network of trails I have ever ridden with beautiful flow lines and something for everyone. The upgrades to the the country club have made the post ride vibe amazing as well. My happy place!
Jamie Maccallum
04 February 2022
amazing trails, well kept brilliant that it is in the forest and as the trees are cut and replanted the trails change
Karl-Tyko Albäck
03 February 2022
Absolutely outstanding riding, had an absolute blast. The climb to the top is not too bad and the descent is worth every second. The trail IsiKhova is a must ride.
Jacques Dreyer
26 November 2021
Consistently rated top trails in SA with good reason
Team Tread
30 June 2020

Only those that have ridden these trails will understand the real meaning – and feeling – of trail flow. Unless you have travelled to Karkloof and ridden those trails properly, you cannot make any claims about great flow anywhere else without expecting to be corrected by anyone whose mountain biking life has been enhanced by the Karkloof trails.

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