I found a gem of a mtb trail ride in Hermanus!

When work commitments force you to travel, it doesn’t mean you have to give up your weekly MTB trail rides. Instead, it provides a good opportunity to explore new trail riding opportunities. I recently spent some time working in the splendid seaside village of Hermanus. I was there Monday to Friday for 3 weeks.

Hermanus is a popular holiday destination in the summer months, but autumn is such a beautiful time of the year to visit, particularly for mountain biking. The trails are superb, and the weather is perfect for riding. There is no wind and the average temperature is in the mid 20’s. What more could a mountain biker ask for?

I already knew about the trails in the Hemel and Aarde valley, having competed in the Nissan Trail Seeker series. The trails start at the Village centre just outside Hermanus. Permits are available for R60 at Euodia cycles. The trail is Marathon style XC and suitable for a short travel XC bike. It has vast amount of single track through forests, fynbos and some fun technical bits along the way. Perfect for a bit of much needed fitness training on my trusty XC Hardtail.

I enquired at a few local bike shops about group rides in the area during the week, as I was reluctant to ride these trails alone, but it seems the are none. Safety is always a big concern, being a lady on my own, so I was not going to risk riding on my own.  (Another reason why I feel Ladies group MTB rides are such a great idea.)

With the Hemel and Aarde trails out of the question for me, I decided I would just have to hit the tar. It was probably a good idea to begin with, because for the first week of my three week stint,  I took my XC hard tail bike. Riding my hard tail after spending time shredding the trails on my 160 mm full suspension trail bike, always takes a bit of getting used to.

At 4pm on a stunningly beautiful Monday afternoon I hopped on my trusty GT Zascar and headed off on a planned 90 minute easy ride.

I cycled past the old harbour and then headed out towards Voelklip. Just before I reached the big circle (around 4 km outside the CBD) I saw a sign to turn right to the Fernkloof nature reserve and decided to do the touristy thing and go take a look. Upon entering, and much to my sheer delight, I spotted a little sign saying “Hermanus Cycle trail” and a little red arrow pointing toward a bit of single track that disapeared into the Fynbos.  I am pretty sure that any non-mountain biker might have taken one look at the broad smile on my face and thought I had found a chest of long hidden treasure, but no, I had found the equivalent to any shiny gems. Trails!

And what a gem they turned out to be! The Hermanus Cycle trail is a 17km loop sign posted for clockwise travel, starting at the Fernkloof nature reserve, but may be joined at any point within the Reserve. At the end of town, you have the option to either continue along the mountain or head down towards the beach, where it leads you back towards town, along a fun beachfront mix of single track, dirt, and tar roads.

There is really a bit of everything in these trails. Rocky single track, a few sandy bits, short rocky climbs, technical downhills, fun flowy sections, forest runs, bridges, etc. This trail has it all. It is not only a load of fun to ride, but will certainly improve your MTB skills at the same time.  The trail skirts the urban sprawl of Hermanus but for most of your ride you’ll be blasting through a profusion of fynbos alive with butterflies, birds, baboons, mongoose, frogs, tortoises, snakes and lizards.

The many retired folk walking their pets is also good indication that these trails are safe to ride alone. Be sure to stop and say hello to the lovely lady who walks her cat every evening.

Though I would definitely not ride the Hemel en Aarde loop on anything but a short travel XC bike, the Hermanus Cycle Trail was just as much fun on my long travel trail bike as it was on my hard tail. I absolutely love this trail! It is just so much fun.

The total loop takes about 45 minutes, (depending on how many times you stop to chat to the locals) There are many entry/exit points along the way, so you can in fact do a ride of any length.

If you are heading to Hermanus for the weekend, consider doing the Hemel en Aarde fitness ride one day and the other day a fun trail ride along the Hermanus Cycle route. Be sure to stop for brunch at one of the many eateries in the CBD.

I stayed at the Mayflower Guest house. It’s a wonderful self-catering guest house close to the CBD and beach front. It is run by Jenny and Graham Fenn, who are the most delightful hosts. They have two gorgeous dogs who are super friendly, and in my opinion, make for a peaceful nights sleep when staying away from home. The rooms have everything you would need and since they have wooden floors, Jenny and Graham are happy to have you keep your bike in your room.

View my ride on STRAVA


I found a gem of a mtb trail ride in Hermanus!
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