- South Sky
A Mountain Biker's Guide to Stellenbosch
Updated: Jul 27, 2022
Stellenbosch, situated about 45 minutes outside Cape Town, is the second oldest town in South Africa and one of the country's most adored regions. Nestled in the heart of the Cape Winelands, it is home to world-class wine farms, inspiring food, and vibrant coffee scene that radiates a rich culture and artistic feel.
Most people think of Stellenbosch as a place for great food, wine, and relaxation. However true, it is not all the town offers. Surrounded by famous fynbos mountain ranges and jaw-dropping natural beauties, Stellenbosch boasts one of the best mountain biking scenes in the world.
The town is encapsulated by 6 mountain biking areas that offer riders a staggering 863km of trails within 10 km of the town. It is at the centre of South African cycling and easily competes with the best mountain biking towns in the world. Even for its growing reputation, Stellenbosch remains a hidden gem. By combining the number of trails with its year-round cycling weather and additional perks, visitors are spoiled with epic mountain biking at a great value.
A wide selection of MTB Trails:
Stellenbosch is situated in around six quality domains that offer 863km of MTB trails around the famous fynbos covered Cape Winelands. These Stellenbosch MTB trails are caught between incredible mountain ranges and award-winning wine estates that gave rise to its reputation. All six domains are separately owned but can be accessed through one ticket obtainable at a few local outlets in town.
After your pass is acquired, you can enjoy all the Stellenbosch MTB trails directly from the town itself. With all the trails within a 10-minute ride, cyclists are given an MTB trail buffet at a great price! With new tracks being built regularly, the mountain biking scene is constantly growing. Let's have a look at some of the best mountain bike trails in Stellenbosch:
Jonkershoek MTB trails:
Situated just a 10-minute ride outside of the town's centre, this is one of the most prized nature reserves in the area. The reserve is caught in between two rising mountains that offer fun single tracks and jeep tracks along the mountain tops. Enjoy the beautiful fynbos reserve with tranquil rivers, waterfalls, and stunning views once you get high up on the trails.
Bottelary Hills Conservancy:
This area offers riders beautiful rolling hills filled with stretching vineyards, farmlands, and a stunning nature reserve. It has fewer technical areas but a few heavy climbs that might be a bit challenging for beginners. However, the road is also accessible for e-bikes. Whatever your preference, you will get a taste of what Stellenbosch and the surrounding Cape Winelands have to offer.
Helderberg MTB Trails:
This domain is one of the furthest from the town centre but is still only a few minutes away. It is situated between Stellenbosch and Somerset-West on a private farm against the Helderberg mountain. If you are looking for trails that accommodate all levels, then the Helderberg MTB trails are perfect for you. Here you will find four separate loops, namely the green, blue, red, and black trails. These are all catered for different levels, and riders can combine a few of these trails to create their own unique route.
The trails provide spectacular views of Stellenbosch, False Bay, and the surrounding Cape Wineland areas. Whether you are looking for epic Enduro lines or world-class downhill tracks, the Helderberg MTB trails offer them all!
G-Spot is regarded as one of the best single tracks in the country. Built by Mark Gordon and managed by the Stellenbosch Trail Fund, G-Spot offers a ride like none other. Situated right above town, the area provides chiseled single tracks with plenty of jumps and curvy berms that will have you jumping with joy.
Dirtopia Trail Network - Murati & Uitkyk Wine Estates
With its starting point at the Murati Wine estate, Dirtopia offers bike rentals and a restaurant with fantastic food and coffee. Once you get in, riders will have access to numerous MTB trails around the lush Simonsberg mountain that offer dazzling views and lush vegetation.
These MTB trails stretch from the top of the Helshoogte pass, over the Botmanskop Mountain, and into the beautiful Banhoek valley. The area is also accessible through the Boschendal farm next to the local town of Kylemore. Once on the road, bikers can enjoy flourishing fynbos in the nature reserve while looking down onto the valley and its historic agricultural farms filled with livestock, citrus fruit, berries, and of course, more wine.
While enjoying all the healthy sought-after trails and single tracks, riders will also have the opportunity to spot some wildlife on neighbouring farms, such as the famous Springbok, Eland, and Gemsbok.
Whether you are a novice or experienced rider, Stellenbosch MTB Trails offers something for everyone. Besides these six domains, there are plenty of other Stellenbosch MTB routes for mountain bikers to enjoy. For more information on these trails, look at our website for articles about all the different trails around Stellenbosch.
World-class food and drinks:
After a great ride, everyone loves enjoying a great meal or coffee with their mountain biking partner. In Stellenbosch, you can expect world-class food, coffee, and wine at affordable prices.
Food and wine:
Stellenbosch boasts a climate that combines award-winning vineyards with livestock farms to deliver delicious wines and agricultural products. With such excellent resources on its doorstep, it is no wonder why Stellenbosch offers most possibly the best fine dining and farm restaurants in the country. Here you will find world-class, organically sourced 5-course meals for as little as 30 dollars. And it will only cost you 10 Euros to enjoy a full meal at one of the local wine farms with a glass of wine and a stellar view.
Not a big eater during or after a cycle? No need to worry. Stellenbosch is a coffee shop mecca with over 200 to choose from. It is known to have the most coffee shops per square meter in the country, and the quality is unparalleled. In the town centre, you will be spoiled for choice. With little restaurants that serve breakfasts accompanied by delicious coffee, it is no wonder why they call it "little Europe." Whether you like your coffee black, with milk, or any milk alternative, you can enjoy a hot cup after a breezy ride for anything under 2.5 Euros.
Stellenbosch - A cycling town:
Stellenbosch is a mountain bikers' paradise. Besides all the fantastic trails, the town is also very biker-friendly and orientated. The town hosts numerous biking events throughout the year, such as the world-renowned Absa Cape Epic which makes its appearance around March. It is also home to the Coetzenburg 2018 World Cup XCO Track and numerous other world-class MTB trails.
Once you arrive, you will notice how bike-friendly the town is. There are plenty of cycling lanes on the road, and bicycle rakes outside local shops and restaurants, with some coffee shops even allowing customers to store their bikes within the building.
If you forgot any biking essentials, Stellenbosch offers quality mountain biking shops where you will find all mountain biking equipment or attire needed for your rides. The town offers plenty of bike shops, but they also have bike rentals and unique guided biking tours where riders can choose between a quick sightseeing ride or a multiple-day mountain biking adventure within the area. Generally, Stellenbosch offers it all, and visitors will always be a block away from some cycling outlet within the town centre.
Anyone looking to escape the European winter will find perfect solitude in the sunny Stellenbosch. During the summer months of December to February, you can expect 87% of the days to be clear and sunny. However, good sunny weather can also be seen anywhere from September to April.
Stellenbosch boasts great mountain bike weather year-round, with some people preferring the crisp and clean winter months of June to August. The MTB trails are beautifully green during this time, and cyclists can enjoy cosy coffee shops filled with warm food and drinks.
Flights and Accommodation:
If you wondered whether the accommodation is as cheap as the food and coffee, we are happy to tell you that it is precisely so. Stellenbosch offers more than 30 hotels and 80 guest houses for tourists and visitors. Whether you want to stay in town or on the outskirts on some beautiful wine farms, the choice is yours. The town centre is where you will find the highest prices but is still reasonable. Then, you can stay on the outskirts of the town on wine farms and guest houses for great deals and amazing views!
While most tourists visit South Africa during the summer months, the rest of the year is almost just as busy. South Africa is only one overnight flight away with affordable prices year-round from Europe. Once you land at Cape Town International Airport, Stellenbsch is only a short 30-45 minute drive by car. You can either arrange a vehicle for your stay or take an Uber. Once you get to Stellenbosch, reward yourself with a nice meal and delicious wine before hitting the hay. The next day riders can hop on their bikes and access all the MTB trails in the surrounding area within minutes. Whichever accommodation you choose, there will be loads of MTB trails and tracks for you to enjoy.
Stellenbosch Trail Fund:
In order to keep these Stellenbosch mountain bike trails in good shape and possibly expand in the future, it has to be maintained and managed. The Stellenbosch Trail Fund is a non-profit community organization that governs and maintains several of the area's world-class natural resources. This includes plenty of hiking, running, and biking trails around Stellenbosch. The STF also runs the Fairtree Cannondale Academy, which trains and employs river and trail workers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. These organizations protect natural resources and use them to create economic opportunities for outdoor recreation and tourism within the local community.