New gravel-road circuit mountain bike trail in Piketberg

Posted by David Henning on 8 April 2022

A vast network of gravel roads crisscrosses the Bergrivier Tourism Region and Swartland surrounds. From Piketberg, cyclists can explore the mountain bike mecca of Piket-Bo-Berg or grind along district roads and jeep tracks to towns like Aurora, Goedverwacht and Redelinghuys on a four-day route.

The quiet gravel roads of the Bergrivier and Strandveld, around Piketberg, are ripe for exploration by gravel enthusiasts and bikepackers. Photo by Jacques Marais.

‘We are exceptionally excited about our new Piketberg Mountain Gravel-Road Circuit,’ says Nomonde Ndlangisa, CEO of the Bergrivier Tourism Organisation.

‘It’s a great addition to Bergrivier’s “Adventure Capital” product portfolio and will bring much-needed exposure to the scenic towns of Redelinghuys, Aurora and Goedverwacht. They are, small, rural towns which fall in the Bergrivier region and which offer a massive array of activities and adventures to suit all ages, interests and budgets.’

The region has long been famed for its singletrack, thanks to events like the Piket-Bo-Berg Cycle Challenge and The U stage race. But with the growth in gravel riding, locally and internationally, the dusty back roads of the Bergrivier have begun to draw riders in greater numbers.

‘This beautiful area boasts some of the most pristine and untouched nature reserves, mountain landscapes and open spaces,’ Ndlangisa continued. ‘Mountain- and gravel- biking is becoming ever-more popular, and those who follow the sport are increasingly looking for exciting locations, experiences and local adventures in off-the-beaten-track destinations. The new cycling route, situated just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town, certainly delivers.’

The Piketberg Mountain Gravel-Road Circuit aims to provide an easy-to-follow route that gravel grinders and bikepackers can ride as an introduction to cycling in the area. Thereafter the open road awaits, with Bergrivier Tourism happy to point cyclists in the direction of adventure.

The four-day circuit takes in 285km of riding, with 3 900-metres of elevation gain, and is divided into manageable chunks. The 98-kilometre final day is even designed as an optional extra, dropping the total distance to just 187-kilometres over a long weekend.

The route

Starting in Aurora, 35-kilometres from Piketberg, the three-day loop ends back in the village.

Day 1: A 48km route that traces the southwestern slopes of the Piket-Bo-Berg Mountain before ascending through the Moravian Mission village of Goedverwacht. Riders can choose to camp at Januariesfontein, or push on a further 5km to complete the 48km route and stay at any number of premium self-catering or B&B destinations. Those opting for the stunning Retreat Guest Farm or Highlands Eco Estate will have additional access to some superb singletrack trails as well.

Day 2:  The route descends along the Versveld Pass, offering breathtaking views of the Swartland plains towards the Winterhoek Mountains, before turning north and curving west to Redelinghuys.  After a 79-kilometre day in the saddle, the platteland hospitality and hearty cuisine of Affi Plaas Country Bed & Breakfast will come as a necessary respite to prepare you for the toughest day of riding.

Day 3: The third day of the trip boasts two options. To either head straight to Aurora or divert into the mountains once more, to explore the Danielshoogte Private Nature Reserve. The latter option is the more adventurous one but ensures that the day features 1 330-metres of climbing in just 58-kilometres. It is well worth it though, as the fynbos reserve also offers views across the Strandveld to St Helena Bay, on the West Coast, and south to Table Mountain, in Cape Town, on a clear day.

Having conquered the out and back route up the Danielshoogte Pass and back to Aurora a night at the Rooi Granaat may well rejuvenate riders enough to take on an extra day.

Day 4: For those who can muster another day, head south to Sauer before cutting through the Bo Berg, along the Kapteinskloof valley and past Banghoek Private Nature Reserve. The final 40-kilometres, of the 98-kilometre ride, are on asphalt along the R366, making for a fast finale and an enjoyable ride into Piketberg.

In total the Piketberg Mountain Gravel-Road Circuit features a 40/60 mix of tarmac and gravel, making it the ideal trip for less-experienced gravel grinders.

More info on Piketberg Mountain Gravel-Road Circuit is available here.

Pictures supplied by Bergrivier Tourism.

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