Things To Do in Pilgrims RestCrystal Springs MTB Trails
Where? Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge, Pilgrim's Rest, Mpumalanga
How? Call +27 (0)13 768-5000
How much? Price on request
Where: Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge, almost due west of Pilgrim's Rest, Mpumalanga
Type of route: various, mostly dirt roads and 4X4 tracks
Best: because you are up on the escarpment, Crystal Springs can get wet and cold even in summer
Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge is a popular venue for cyclists (tour de France cyclists have been known to do off-season training here and in the area). It is a 5 000 hectare game farm next door to Crystal Springs Nature Reserve, which offers a series of alternative trails (simply exit the resort gates and disappear into the forests towards Mac Mac Falls, if you're prepared to follow unmarked logging routes; you do need permission to cycle in these forests, however).
The lodge rests up on the top of Robber's Pass (the former stamping ground of highwaymen and coaches carrying gold from Pilgrim's Rest to the coast), with direct access to a game farm with plenty of jeep track used by game vehicles to spot zebra, wildebeest, jackal and, admittedly rarely spotted, leopard. These trails also pass through the forests on the property.
Cyclists particularly enjoy cycling up here because of the altitude and the training routes.
The scenery of the area is incredibly beautiful and the routes through the forest provide vistas worthy of more than a couple of photo stops.
For die-hard cyclists the Three Pass route heads down from Crystal Springs through the town of Pilgrim's Rest and then up another short pass to Graskop, turns right at Sabie before tackling the Long Tom Pass and a steep descent into Lydenburg. Complete the 150 km trail via Orighstad road and Robbers Pass.