Its been compared to the Whistler in Canada but that may be pushing things a little. Still, the Karkloof in Kwazulu Natal offers some fabulous riding, from really technical, OMG single tracts to meandering forestry roads – perfect for the whole family. It’s certainly amongst the finest riding in the country and easily accessible from Durban (a little over an hour away) and Johannesburg (about 4.5 hours). There is plenty of B&B accommodation in the area, and restaurants galore.
The Karkloof is a verdant farming area in the Kwazulu Natal Midlands, a little way from Howick. It is a land of mountains, rivers and streams, waterfalls and cascades. Of forestry plantations, cattle, maize fields and wildlife. It’s lush. Sometimes hot and sometimes cold but mostly just perfect.
The main mountain biking happens from the Karkloof Country Club polo fields where a number of trails have been laid out, varying in length and skill level required, although the actual routes change from time to time as timber harvesting activities dictate. Actually, you can’t go wrong – the formal routes are all marked but you don’t have to stick to these. There are a myriad of paths, single tracks and forestry roads just waiting to be explored. Some, the longer ones, tend to head up into the mountains where you will be very grateful that you are on a ebike, while others take you down to the waterfalls (Woodhouse and Karkloof Falls) both of which are spectacularly beautiful and well worth a look.
Weekends are particularly popular at the club and Steve’s Bistro is open from Wednesday to Sunday. Steve’s breakfasts are legendary (the flame grilled bacon and sausage are unbelievable) and his range of ice creams alone are enough of a reason to visit.
Closer to Howick, the Howick Mountain Bike Club have set out a bunch of more technical, rugged rides in the plantations. Mostly single track, linked by short sections of forestry roads, they are certainly exciting and varied. They also organise club rides for the younger, fitter rider as well as “senior club cyclists” rides that are “targeted at the older, or not so high-performance cyclists”. Check out their web site for times and more details.
Daily ride fees are payable at both venues and both clubs offer annual membership and reasonable rates.
Route Distance: The set Karkloof Routes vary from a 7km easy children’s ride to the 37km outback trails but you can add or subtract segments as you like.
Route conditions: Generally, the single tracks are very well maintained as are the forestry roads that form part of the set routes. The others depend on the season and can get a little overgrown in the hot, wet summer months. As always make sure you have a mobile phone with you and take adequate water and sustenance.
Karkloof Country Club GPS Coordinates: S29° 22.937′ E30° 15.821′
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