The following recommended MTB trails in and around the Vredefort Dome have taken years to pioneer and are always being added to and changed. A lot of mtbiking goes on around here. Few of the trails are marked so you need to come to Otters’ Haunt for a briefing.
- We have a few well used but maintained bikes for hire
- You can hire us to guide or go it alone
- Stay over at Otters’ Haunt and ride several trails
- Trails range from an hour to most of the day
- We have GPS for some routes and maps for several.
- Always call before coming
- Your bike wheels should have inner liners and latex for punctures
- You will need plenty of water in this dry climate
- Carry a cellphone
- Get our briefing – you can easily get lost!
Trails vary from a lazy ride around the shady town of Parys with its riverside paths and quiet streets to hectic descents and dropoffs in the Dome Bergland. Many of our recommended hikes are also bikable. We ourselves are recreational bikers, not serious competitors, and we love it when groups invite us to show them the trails. We’re happy to ride with families, oldies and newcomers, but can also take you where only made dogs and mountainbikers would go!
- Dirtmax: A route beside the river and though open veld. The river track is challenging, with bridges, dips and tight turns. The open country can be fast, with some testing hills. The Dirtmax is the name of a race for all comers – beginner to advanced – that happens on the first Saturday of each month. But you can ride parts of the trail anytime. The designated routes are between 5km and 60km long so there is plenty of choice. The start is located on the farm Shiloh, on the left about 1km after the bridge across the Vaal from Parys into the North West Province. Contact email@example.com or phone 083 595 8439 to make sure the venue is open for a casual ride. Of course, it’s best to ride on race day when the trails are fully open. See our Otters’ Haunt video of amateurs riding parts of Dirtmax here.
- Tweezer Rocks: The trail on the Free State side of the Vaal gets its name from the amazing silhouette of rocks atop a koppie where two upstanding boulders hold a third between them. The trail goes around the koppie containing the “tweezers”. Apart from one moderate gradient up a pathway, most of the riding is easy, following tar, tracks and good paths, and the trail suits adventurous beginners. You can take in a circuit of Parys airport with grand views of the Dome and its collar of mountains. Distance starting from Otters’ Haunt: 18-25km depending on route. Good for a breakfast ride or evening tour. No permission required for the koppie ride on common land but around the airport stay well clear of the runway.
- Inlandsee: A longish ride of 70km on very easy, quiet gravel roads and wonderfully scenic tarred backroads. The Inlandsee is a salt pan that marks Ground Zero of the Dome meteorite impact (although it has nothing to do with the event and just happens to be there). In summer the pan sometimes boasts flocks of flamingos. The ride takes about 3-4 hours and follows a large circuit from Parys to the pan, then via Vredefort back to Parys. A good autumn, winter or spring ride. In late summer the cosmos flowers and sunflowers turn the platteland into a gorgeous display of colour. The route is mainly on public roads. You will need to get permission to enter the land around the Inlandsee, shared by several farmers. Organise through us in advance.
- Berakah: If you are looking for a sporting challenge this is the one for you. Rugged, stony, steep tracks attack the ridges and kloofs of the inner Dome Bergland. There are routes of varying difficulty and length across open fields and exposed mountainsides, culminating in a maniacal climb and terrifying descent from the plateau topped by Rhino Top. Some 16km from Otters’ Haunt, the trail can be included in a longer circuit from our place on gravel roads through the Dome, returning on the tarred Potch road. Allow half a day at least. There is an entrace fee for Berakah, payable at the entry kiosk where a map is also obtainable.
- Parys town & around: This is for those who want a relaxing ride on roads in and around the town, including the Vaal River promenades and one long ascent to the water reservoir overlooking the town and township. Total distance from Otters’ Haunt and back again, if you do the complete circuit, is about 24km. Parys is a historic Free State town, established in the 1870’s, with many old buildings. It is also full of artists, writers and designers; antique shops, coffee bars and restaurants. The town gets its name from Paris, France, apparently because the original surveyors were reminded of the Seine River. You can ride fast 0r slow, stop for refreshments and wander into curiousity shops. The museum is well worth a stop.
- ASK about the kind of thing that would suit you. People come riding in the Dome for all kinds of reasons:
- Train for the Cape Epic and other majors
- Try out mountain biking as a recreational option
- Bring the family for a variety of trails including very short outings on our property
- Get in some fitness training as a ‘weekend warrior’
- Explore the history of the area
- Learn about the Vredefort Dome from the ground up
- You name it, we can advise you what to do and send you in the right direction.
‘On a bicycle you travel at the speed of the people and there is no arrogance in your attitude. This is not tourism, it’s sharing.’ – Visitor to Otters’ Haunt.
‘I came, I saw, I fell off and got bruised and muddy, I got patched up, and went on. Mind blowing!’ – Frank Dermas after doing the Berakah challenge.
‘Very nice. Good paths. Good bike. Good guide. My English not so good.’ – Oliver from France.