The 650ha Segwati Game Ranch, offers an extensive network of dirt roads that will delight any cyclist. The Game Ranch is in close proximity to Skeerpoort and Hartebeespoort Dam and only 45 min from Pretoria or Johannesburg.
Choose between flat and gently meandering roads ideal for beginners, or gear up and crank the more adventurous mountain trails ascending to 1,544 m above sea level.
Most of the riding is along 4x4 jeep-tracks up and down the Witwatersrand range, with a variety of marked routes. The entire ranch is open to exploration along any combination of routes, so it is up to you.
The Franklin Trail is an easy 2 km trail along a flat road, while the Reebok Trail is for more advanced riders, following the ridges of the farm to the more hilly areas to join the 4x4 trail, with some great technical stretches. It is a good destination year round, although summer temperatures can be extreme. For those wanting to explore the game farm off the bike, you can hike, swim, view some game of follow the scenic 4x4 route.
The Van Gaalen route is sometimes referred to as the ‘Big Cheese’ of mountain biking in Gauteng, because the route is situated on a historic cheese farm. The farm lies on the edge of the rural community of Skeerpoort and has become a bit of a go-to destination for mountain bikers from Johannesburg and surrounds. Their constantly evolving MTB trails traverse much of the Magaliesberg region, combining top-quality single-track with an endless network of gravel roads.
The rural landscape, rugged koppies and spread-out grasslands makes it difficult to believe that you are only 30 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg and Pretoria. There is a real sense of place at Van Gaalen, with old Dutch-style architecture set within a picturesque valley, plus of course the abundant natural grandeur and history one finds here at the foot of the Magaliesberg and in the Cradle of Humankind.
The trails are predominantly along purpose-built single-track, and the riding does not get much better than this as you bomb through reed beds, arid bush veldt, open grassland and across rivers. The extensive network of trails, all on private land and stretching across 10 farms, offers cranking options of up to 100 km. The core riding loops are mainly on single-track, jeep track and some horse trails, with additional options along servitude and gravel roads. Everything is linked together so you can create as many alternative routes and loops as you want.
Thus the variety is mind-boggling, allowing everybody to discover their own little piece of cranking heaven. Start from reception on any of the well-marked routes – colour-coded for various skills levels – to explore the river trail with wooden and even floating bridges under a canopy of trees. Play through reed tunnels and then tackle the technical climbs - with ups and downs through dongas and kloofs - with differing gradients as you head into the rocky koppies.
Most of the trails cut by Eric (the owner of Van Gaalen) use the natural contours along the rugged ridge lines, creating technical, rocky single-track descents, lung busting ascents and spectacular views. The single-track along the Skeerpoort River cuts through thick reeds and bushes forming a ‘bush tunnel’ corridor, with a flat profile and very little climbing … think pure cranking bliss!
‘Pofadder’ is possibly the steepest climb on the Van Gaalen trail network; the ascent lasts for a full 3.5 km and ascends in the region of 250 m over this distance. The old ‘Dagga Pad’, carved out by smugglers during the days of yore, this craggy ride is sure to get your adrenaline pumping as you snake along a sheer cliff plummeting a good 10m to your side.
Beware that some of the riding at Van Gaalen is not suited for beginners, especially the rocky climbs and huge drop-offs. Rookies should rather opt for the flat river trails, where you can play to your heart’s content. A great deal of mountain biking takes place in the area, and some routes are shared by runners, mountain bikers and horse riders, and safety is therefore not an issue.