The village of Tulbagh, nestled in an unspoilt valley set in a bowl formed by the stunning Groot Winter Wilderness Area, has excellent mountain biking trails thanks to the local mountain bikers’ hard work. The Bone or Schalkenbosch Trail (26 km) is a difficult ride that cuts along the mountainside above Tulbagh.
If you’re not so fit, stick to the 1st 10.5 km Fairy Loop, because lots of mostly single-track climbing (almost 800 m) and switchbacks await as you head past Steinthal onto the mountain slopes – watch out for technical sections around the river/ravine crossings. On the other side of town, the Saronsberg or 6 Farms Trail (16 km) crosses six farms, mostly along farm trails with light climbs and descends and not a lot of single-track.
This is a great trail for social and intermediate riders. The Welbedacht Nature Reserve section adds an additional loop of about 7 km which includes a steep up and down; only recommended for experienced riders looking for a good workout and a stunning view over the whole valley.
This trail is situated on Silwerfontein Farm and ends in Voëlvlei Dam Nature Conservancy. It is a straightforward ride on flat jeep tracks traversing pristine forests and fields of fynbos along the edge of the Voëlvlei Dam. Most of the surface is good hard-pack, although you might have to cope with erosion ruts and loose gravel after heavy rain.
To ride around the dam, climb up the path into the gum trees before taking a sharp right to the bottom gravel road. Turn left at the MTB sign and follow the twin single tracks. Cross a few small streams and rocky sections before the road becomes smooth with a really fast section around the south side of the dam up to a closed gate at 9.4 km.
Turn back or continue around the dam following the gravel road which returns to the farm. Off the bike, there is lovely hiking, fishing and non-motorised water sports on Voëlvlei Dam.
The old wagon trail must be one of the best technical downhill mountain biking rides in the country, about 7 km in all. Anyone who can ride the entire thing is seriously on track for a downhill championship medal.
That it was ever passable by horse carts is amazing: story is that there was a fracas at nagmaal (communion) in the Witzenberg valley way back when, so a farmer there decided he would build his own track so he could attend church on the Tulbagh side. Whatever his name might have been, you can bet they called him crazy. We thank him.
At the bottom of the wagon track you come to a farm gate, ride past a place with big dogs to the left, then bomb down through Steinthal residential area, and on to Tulbagh. From the crest of the Witzenberg to where you reach private land is about 5.5 km, so make sure your breaks are in good working order. From there it's a fast 7 km to Van der Stell Street in the historic town – just take care at all the stop streets.