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Cape Town's Top 5 Mountain Biking Trails - Part 1. Tokai MTB Park

Updated: Jan 4

Gazing out over False Bay from the Tokai MTB venue at dusk

Part 1: Cape Town's Top 5 Mountain Biking Trails - Tokai

Cape Town offers an exquisite array of mountain bike trails that cater to riders of all levels. This article series focuses on the overall best of the best, yes, Cape Town's Top 5 Mountain Biking Trails. As you might expect, these trails typically fall into the intermediate to advanced skill categories.

The best 5 trails suited for beginners and novice riders will be covered in a follow-up article.

In this series, we'll explore, in parts, the top 5 trails, emphasising the scenic beauty, skill requirements, bike recommendations, access requirements and more.

Tokai MTB Park – A mountain biker's paradise

Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced

Once upon a time, this place was a lush forest of pine trees but, thanks to a tireless alien-vegetation removal programme, it's now a beautiful mix of, still endangered but recuperating, Cape Peninsula fynbos and Afromontane forest.

The MTB trails here are nothing but superb. Seriously world-class. If you are a novice rider, and you're feeling adventurous, by all means, head out, but take it slow and use the B-line options to avoid the more challenging features.

Primary Route Options

There are several routes to choose from and there are many more slice and dice options when you know the trail system well enough.

The Mast Climb

The majestic Sentinel and Karbonkelberg mountain peaks towering above Hout Bay
View over Hout Bay

About a 23 km ride with a hefty 875m climb straight out the gates. The “Mast” is the radio transmission tower at the top of the Constantiaberg peak. The ascent is a beautiful challenge, epic to some, but you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views on both the False Bay and Atlantic sides of the mountain. You’ll be able to catch a view of the majestic Sentinel and Karbonkelberg mountain peaks towering above Hout Bay..

Recommended bike: Gravel (jeep track only) or XC.

The Silvermine Loop

Overlooking the Silvermine Dam on one of the the Tokai Cape Town Trails
View overlooking the Silvermine Dam

This is a 32 km loop with 625m of climbing, taking you up and around the Silvermine Dam and past the Noordhoek Peak. The ascent is broken up with a few recovery flats, so if you take your time, it’s a fun and manageable longer ride. The scenery of the Silvermine Dam and from the Noordhoek Peak are rather spectacular.

For a first timer, the route isn't impossible to navigate, but it isn't easy. It'll be a lot easier if you go with someone that knows the way.

Recommended bike: XC to Trail.

The Snakes Loop

Rider exiting berm on the Boomslang Snake Trails
The Snake Trails

The Snakes are, by far, the most popular upper Tokai MTB trails and can vary between 13 km (with 354m of elevation) to 15 km (450m of elevation).

The Snakes comprise of 5 sections, accessed by dissecting jeep tracks:

  1. Cobra - Black (Trail or All Mountain bike recommended)

  2. Mamba - Blue

  3. Boomslang - Blue

  4. Snake Eyes - Blue

  5. Rinkals - Blue

Check out these YouTube videos that document all the line options for these trails here:

3. Vasbyt

To get to the start of Cobra, you need to ascend to level 5 and a little higher. Let's call it level 5b. I hear you asking, "What the heck is level 5, never mind 5b!?" Ok, go up to the 2nd bench, on level 4, and keep going up, that is, south or left. Then at the next fork, keep right, that is, up. You'll then come to level 5. At the next fork, turn right, that is up again. Thankfully, it's a very short up from here. Continue past the sign marked "DH0", the start of the downhill trail. A couple of a hundred meters later you'll reach the start of Cobra.

Putting Cobra away for another day, you can head straight to Mamba. To reach the start of the Mamba trail, this time go right when you reach the 2nd bench. After a very short gentle climb you'll find the sharp right into the start of Mamba.

Although the Snakes run from Cobra to Rinkals, most riders ride Mamba to Snake Eyes. Snake Eyes exits onto level 2, the same level as Vasbyt, the final descent option. To get to Vasbyt from Snake Eyes, simply follow the level 2 jeep track south (towards Muizenberg) If you choose to do Rinkals, you will need to ascend back up from level 1 to level 2 and continue the traverse onto Vasbyt or, if you prefer, the DH3 line, a tiny bit further on.

Remember, all's well that ends well, so choose wisely. Or get yourself a guide to help you navigate your first experience.

Recommended bike: XC to Trail.

The Downhill Line

Steep rock garden descent on Tokai's DH0 trail.
DH0 - 2nd Rock Garden

If you're into downhill biking, there's a track for that too. The upper sections (DH0 - DH2) are for advanced riders only, but if you're an intermediate rider, you’ll be able to handle the lower sections at an appropriate pace (DH3 - DH4).

Ok, we need to talk about DH0. It's accessed, as already mentioned, from the level 5b jeep track. It's not mad hard, but it can be intimidating if you're not used to super rocky terrain. Like most riders choose to skip Cobra on the Snakes line, most riders skip DH0, and start the DH line at DH1, off the level 4 entry. But DH0 will call you in your dreams and one day, you'll do it!

Recommended bike: Long travel Trail or All Mountain (Enduro)

Why is Tokai So Exceptional

Not only are the trails world-class, well maintained, safe and easily accessible, the views from Tokai are a visual feast for your eyes! You'll get to see the sea, land, and mountains, all in one go. The atmosphere is fresh and alive with adrenaline, and this juxtaposition of thrilling excitement and the sense of absolute peace is truly awe inspiring.

Post Ride Activities

When you're done shredding the trails, head down to Forest Glade House on Tokai Road. Here you’ll find the Gear Change Bicycle Store if you need any gear or repairs, a Pharmacy, as well as two restaurants where you can grab a coffee, beer or a delicious refuelling meal.

Access Requirements

You'll need an annual Table Mountain National Parks level 3 Activity Permit or a day pass to ride here. The day pass is just R100, and you can pick it up at the pay point near the Tokai picnic site and parking area.

Best Times to Ride

I have no favourite colour or favourite food. I love almost everything. But I don't like heat. Everybody knows that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Tokai is on the eastern slopes of the Constantiaberg mountains and exposed, early, to the morning sun. If you like to ride in the shade, consider starting your ride 2.5 hours before sunset. This will ensure you have the coolest and most dreamy ride.

Book a Ride

Contact Philip at Cape Adventures for guided MTB rides in Cape Town and high-end bike rentals.

Via our website: Contact Form

WhatsApp or call Philip on: +27 (0) 82 89 333 26.


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