We have been blessed with quite a few cycling tours coming through the doors of the Knysna Wayside Inn lately (you may have seen some pics on our facebook page). Lovely people, fit – or trying to get there – and full of fun! They have all been on guided tours, but almost all of them said they would love to come back and explore the area more in-depth on their own. No better place than Knysna, if you want to explore on your bike!
Although I would love to tell you about the Garden Route mountain bike trails – mostly in the Knysna Forest – from firsthand experience, those of you who have met me already will have guessed I am not a mountain biker myself. But I have friends! Including friends who ride their bikes in our forests on a regular basis. So here is their story :).
Harkerville Mountain Bike Routes
The well-marked trails at Harkerville are probably the most well-known mountain bike trails in the area, and can be found half-way between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. But since they feature in every cycling magazine and on every mountain bike website my friend (his name is Erik, by the way), said I should rather tell you about a lesser known route, deep in the Goudveld Forest, in Dalene Matthee’s world: the Homtini Cycle Route.
Homtini Mountain Bike Trail
You will have to bring your own mountain bikes or hire them in town. When you get here, just ask me. I may not have done the cycle trail myself, but I DO know where to hire bikes! For those of you with rental cars: I have noticed some of the carrental companies now offer bike racks for hire as well! So once you have your bikes (and helmets: ‘no helmet, no ride’ as Erik would say!) sorted out you will have to find your way to the hamlet of Rheenendal. From the Knysna Wayside Inn to Rheenendal is about 20min. by car. Once you are just past Rheenendal you turn right towards Bibbeys Hoek. From here the road is a dirt road. A few minutes on this road will bring you to the SANParks boom, where you have to get your permit to ride the trail. Erik said he paid R40.00 per person, but this is of course subject to change. Another few kilometers into the indigenous forest will bring you to Krisjan-se-nek picnic spot, Dalene Matthee’s grave and Big Tree, and this is where you can leave your car and put on your helmet! There are toilets as well as water available, Erik said and you could actually make a day of it and bring a lekker picnic for after the ride: there are braai facilities and picnic tables there as well….
Ok, back to the cycling. Apparently you follow the main forest road for about 400m, until there is a small sign indicating the cycle trail is to your right. From here you follow a smaller, lesser maintained but double-track forest road even deeper into the forest. For those of you who have actually read Circles in the Forest, or Fiela se Kind you will realize that this is indeed where Dalene Matthee found her inspiration, and somehow you may expect to see one of the elusive Knysna elephants around every corner. By the way, Erik mentioned they heard lots of birds, saw the Knysna Loerie (or Turaco as it nowadays known) a few times, heard the baboons ‘barking’, and even came across a beautiful male bushbuck. No elephants though…
Anyway, after about 1.5km there’s a turnoff to the right (that’s where Erik saw the bushbuck!) onto the single track. Downhill, so not strenuous, but quite technical as there are obviously quite a few tree roots which need to be ‘conquered.’ After the single track the trail carries on onto a forest slip road, until at the bottom of that road the trail takes a sharp turn to the left. And immediately thereafter a sharp turn to the left again. By now you will have done 5km’s of the total length of 19km.
Read more about the Homtini Cycle trail here, ‘cause this is only where it starts!