Here’s the deal: the Swellendam Trails (all hand-crafted on space belonging to the local Municipality) is open and FREE. Yup, you heard correctly, and I guarantee you there is nowhere else in the Western Cape where you will have open public access to trails of this quality. The setting adjacent to Marloth Nature Reserve is pretty much as good as it gets, with purpose-built singletrack tripping through diverse fynbos and plantations blanketing the foothills of the breathtaking Langeberg ranges. (There is riding in the reserve as well, mostly along forestry roads, but to access these you will need a permit from Cape Nature).
These new trails are the business, though, and were made possible by a collaboration between the Western Cape Government, Swellendam Municipality, Swellendam Cycle Club, Petrichor Adventures and various other role players.
Most of the build was done by local rider and farmer, Rohan Germishuys, of Petrichor Adventures and one immediately gets a feel for his passion and dedication once you crank onto the route. It is possible to link into the Hermitage Valley and surrounding farms by venturing onto the public gravel roads, but with 33km of mostly singletrack, chances are you’ll need a coffee or a beer while resting those legs!
Surfaces vary from gritty downhill sections to rooty forest rips, with laid-back zigzags winding through ridges layered with pine needles. You can also expect the odd berm or wooden bridge, but the overall riding is suited to intermediate mountain bikers. There are ample trails for kids and family riders, too, but take it easy after heavy rain when you can expect mud and water run-off erosion.
The route is well-marked, but only in key places, so I would suggest that you download the KML, GPX, Garmin or Google map files at www.visitswellendam.co.za.