About Platberg Nature Reserve MTB Route

Where: on Platberg Mountain, a landmark on the border between KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State; closest town Harrismith
Level: difficult, children definitely won’t manage the route
Type of route: a combination of jeep track, dirt roads and concrete strips
Distance: 45 km loop
Best: any time of year, but look out for the Berg Bohaai festival, of which the Dirty Harry is part, as the reserve is busy then

Platberg Nature Reserve lies at the foot of the Free State’s version of Table Mountain (it’s also flat topped and 2 394 metres above sea level), the 1 400 hectares a playground of hiking, MTB and 4x4 trails for those who love outdoor challenges.

The route is not easy - it forms part of the annual Dirty Harry MTB Classic - but it is easy to find, just outside of Harrismith, and well signposted.

The route makes a gentle start up the lower slopes of the mountain but prepare yourself for Donkey’s Pass, a vertical climb up dual concrete strips for a good 3 km (no shame in pushing, folks). This is the sixth highest and second steepest pass in South Africa and difficult to drive in a 4x4 vehicle, let alone on a bike.

But the view is worth it, particularly behind you across Sterkfontein Dam with sweeping panoramas of the Drakensberg and Van Reenen’s cliffs.

Up on the top you can keep on the flat along a jeep track, but it is often difficult to find from Donkey’s Pass. Getting back down Platberg is easier, just look out for the illuminated cross. However the rocky twists and turns of the what is, essentially, a footpath, are virtually impossible by bike.

Other riders avoid Donkey’s Pass, staying parallel to the cliffs along the contour pth. The views from here are almost as good.

Need to Know

WherePlatberg Mountain Reserve, Harrismith, Free State

WhenBest during daylight hours.

How muchPrices on request.

OvernightThe closest town is Harrismith, in Free State

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