Riding in the wild at Thaba Trails

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For Gauteng mountain bikers who want to embrace adventure rides, these are the trails to ride. (Photo: Dino Lloyd)
For Gauteng mountain bikers who want to embrace adventure rides, these are the trails to ride. (Photo: Dino Lloyd)
  • Variety of trails suitable to a range of skills.
  • Accessible and located within an easy half-hour drive from most metros.
  • Unique game experience within a nature conservancy. 


Gauteng’s Witwatersrand is both the most densely populated and geographically smallest region in South Africa. As such, accessing sprawling vistas and remote mountains for mountain biking can be challenging in Gauteng.

Challenging but not impossible. A Gauteng mountain bike gem, Thaba Trails, provides a diverse trove of mountain biking to satisfy most peddlers dirt appetites. Just 8km south of Johannesburg’s CBD,  Thaba is a local trail favourite and contrastingly, also underrated  for its workout potential, at 1500m above sea level.

Thaba Trails borders the 600ha Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve. There are rumours that the two shall face more integration in the coming years.

The terrain is typical of the rocky Highveld and indigenous vegetation is the predominant feature of the landscape. With the sprawling city as a distant backdrop. A highlight is being within proximity to a range of antelope and wildlife.

A Gauteng mountain bike gem, Thaba Trails, provide
A Gauteng mountain bike gem, Thaba Trails, provides a diverse trove of mountain biking to satisfy most peddlers dirt appetites. (Photo: Dino Lloyd)

Trails for advanced and novice riders

Originally reputed for advanced technical riding, Thaba has evolved into one of the area’s most rounded riding destinations. Four trail options currently exist, catering from the most casual rider up to harder chargers seeking to execute skill and fitness.

The various trail options accommodate a range of difficulty levels according to the IMBA rating system. In terms of Thaba green circle for easy/beginner, blue square for intermediate, and a single black diamond for advanced/difficult.

Yellow 1 at 6km is dirt road and jeep track easily accessible from the trailhead. The tree-lined route is perfectly suited for absolute beginners and youngsters. Or the truly super casual rider.

Yellow 2, is very the same but with a more challenging 15km route distance. Both routes cater to safe family outings and are at green circle level.

For intermediate riders, the Green route extends to 30km with a more challenging selection of obstacles and singletrack. There are Blue route detours that extend the loop to 40km and are a step up in technical challenge for advanced riders, up and down. These two options are equal to a blue intermediate to a black diamond advanced level.

ALSO READ: Wolwespruit is Pretoria’s N1 mountain biking venue of convenience

Cycling
Thaba Trails offers a unique game experience within a nature conservancy. (Photo: Dino Lloyd)

You can mix and match different trails

All trail options cross each other at one or other point, allowing you to turn off onto different sections to create your route to mecca. My most recent ride made use of Green, Blue and some Yellow. All in, it totalled 23.9km of distance with an elevation gain of 446m. According to the Strava oracle.

As a destination, Thaba boasts a bouquet of provincial and national events in both Cross Country (XCO) and Downhil (DHI) as well as enduro events more recently. A national UCI Cat 1 XCO eventis scheduled for the end of March, subject to pandemic measures.

Parking is secure and there is seating available with snacks for sale. The trailhead also has a bike shop where permits can be bought at R60 rand per ride, although there also options for multiple rides.

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