30 January 2013 by Ems Tsotetsi

Mountain biking at Williamsburg Mountain Reserve

Get on your bike and get ready for the thrills and gorgeous scenery at Williamsburg Mountain Reserve.

Biker at Williamsburg Mountain Reserve

This week we feature a Getaway blog by a Jacques Marais.

Williamsburg is a private nature reserve forming part of the Middle Keurbooms Conservancy, a group of leopard-friendly and eco-focused farms near the top end of the Baviaanskloof Mega-Reserve.

Although the main activities here are trout fishing and 4×4 routes, mountain bikers will love the challenging rides in the region.

The ride at Williamsburg Mountain Reserve

Start at the secluded Williamsburg self-catering cottages and crank off in the direction of the N9 along the main farm road. Turn left after a skittish downhill at the 4×4 Playground sign (1.5km). Continue through the campsite, keeping left through a copse of trees onto the Settlers Pass Route (2.1km).

Bikers enjoying the trails Bikers enjoying the trails

A serious climb lies ahead, along a series of rocky and eroded switchbacks as you grunt your way into the rugged Outeniqua foothills. A slight respite awaits at 3.8km as you gain the first plateau, but all the huffing and puffing is sure to continue as you climb further towards the long and short 4x4 route split (6.1km).

Your options here are to either keep right as indicated by the arrows, or loop left along the short route to reconnect with the trail you rode in on. If you feel strong, hit the long route to traverse the ridge eastwards, dropping steeply into a rock-strewn gorge at 9,7km. Dog-leg back to the cottages along easier gravel roads for a challenging 18km ride.

Bird species, especially sunbirds and raptors, will have you twitching uncontrollably

And  if white knuckles aren’t your thing, you could easily just hang a right at the Playground sign for a fast and flattish crank along the gravel access road into Williamsburg.

This will get you to the N9 for a return ride just shy of 30km, making it a great route for intermediate cyclists keen on a speedy ride with wind in your hair.

Off the bike at Williamsburg Mountain Reserve

Pack your fishing rod and bird book when you visit Williamsburg. Dams are stocked with trout, and angling in the streams is also an option. Bird species, especially sunbirds and raptors, will have you twitching uncontrollably.

Need to know about Williamsburg Mountain Reserve

Williamsburg is predominantly visited by 4×4 enthusiasts, so expect the occasional gas guzzler en route. However, the focus is on eco-sensitive driving. Trails are open to overnight guests only and accommodation costs from R90 a night for camping and R280 a cottage a night.

Getting to Williamsburg Mountain Reserve

From George, follow the N9 towards Uniondale for 8km and turn right at the sign to Joncksrus/De Vlugt. Follow this gravel road for 11km, then go left at the Williamsburg sign and travel for another 4km

Gear needed for the ride at Williamsburg Mountain Reserve

A quality helmet such as the Bell Sweep (R1 595, www.obike.co.za) is key on dangerous downhills like those at Williamsburg. A fusion, in-mould microshell construction with a removable blade visor, comfortable TAG Fit system and CE/EN and CPSC safety ratings, gets the thumbs-up.

Williamsburg Mountain Reserve route facts

Grading: Difficult (technical and steep)
Duration: Two to three hours
Configuration: Long route (18km) and short route (11,9km)
Start point: Williamsburg Cottages
Terrain: Eroded 4×4 and dual track
Entry requirements: Limited to overnight guests
Cell reception: Intermittent, only along higher ridges
GPS coordinates: S33° 46’ 25,1”, E23°04’ 57,3”

Contact Williamsburg Mountain Reserve

Tel +27 (0)44 745 1013, www.williamsburgfarm.net

For detailed information on mountain-biking trails across South Africa, go to www.mtbroutes.co.za.

Category: Routes & Trails

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