Here goes if you’re keen on some proper, off-the-beaten track Garden Route RnR … Book in at the 7 Passes Tented Camp and get ready to explore the vast Bergplaas plantations near Hoekwil.
The 7 Passes Tented Camp on the Mandalay Road makes for a perfect base if you’re keen to ride some of the Garden Route’s lesser-known routes. Although most of the fat-trackers in the region gravitate towards the well-known Knysna trails, the recently laid-out trails in Farleigh Forest, the Garden Route Trail Park and the endless forestry roads of Bergplaas make for a superb endurance session on the bike.
With all the riding options along the 7 Passes Road, the best is probably to concentrate on just one option, so let’s make it Bergplaas. This section of the Cape Pine plantation stretches along the Outeniqua ranges to the north of Karatara, Woodville and Hoekwil.
Access to the plantations and the Bergplaas State Forest is blissfully easy from 7 Passes Camp. Saddle up and turn left out of the parking lot for a quick 1.3 km crank to the main tarmac track, and nudge right along the shoulder from here for 500 m. On your left you will notice the Woodville General Dealer and a gravel road heading into the hills through farmland … this is where you’re going.
You’ll reach the Cape Pine signs after a further 1.5 km; keep left into the indigenous forest and ignore the road to Woodville to your right. A few dips and climbs later you’ll be able to check out a kick-ass panorama over the farmlands below the forest as you ess-bend to the summit of your first big climb (6 km). Forestry gates to the left and right allow you to explore off the main drag, but keep an eye out for access control signs warning you of areas where tree-felling may be happening.
The second gate to your right takes you past the fire lookout point, with a nice little bomb along a dippy forest track which loops anti-clockwise to take you back to the main gravel stretch (10 km). If you keep right, you’ll drop down towards the river past the original Bergplaas homestead, with literally hours of riding pleasure awaiting you across the valley … you go, buddy, and don’t miss the Diek’s Brew Blonde at Timberlake!
Start off along the lagoon before ascending along a 5 km climb up White’s Road to Wilderness Heights. Head onto the Old George-Knysna Road, but don’t miss a short detour to the ‘Map of Africa’ viewpoint. You will pass smallholdings and dairy farms before descending into the Touws River Valley, then crank into a punishing climb up the other side to Hoekwil. From here you could head home along tarmac, or take the lake road back to Eden Adventures.
Wilderness is a great base from which to explore the Garden Route. The beaches are famous and there is excellent surfing at Victoria and Buffalo bays, plus great flat-water canoeing in Wilderness National Park.