Tale behind the trail
Venue to challenging events such as the Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge, Stellenbosch’s extensive mountain trail network is a result of the passion of a few, yet is enjoyed by thousands.
When the 2011 fires devastated the existing trails in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, a small group of Stellenbosch individuals initiated a project to restore, maintain and extend the trails across these magnificent mountains. To do so, they needed an expert trail builder and funding, as the reserve’s entrance fee is only used to maintain the main roads.
Trail building expert Bennett Nel set to work, initially funded purely by a few donations. His sheer artistry is reflected in the stunning undulating tracks carved out of nature, featuring berms, jumps and rock gardens. Directional signage has also been installed to enhance safety.
The Stellenbosch trails draw both local and international outdoor enthusiasts and professional athletes. They, therefore, make an extensive contribution to the town’s attraction and inject valuable support for local businesses. Furthermore, the work on these trails provides much needed local skills development and income earning opportunities. The positive impact of the upgraded trails can be reflected in the Jonkershoek visitors’ statistics, which increased by 64% from 2011 to 2013 to a total of 45 953, not including the annual permit holders.
Yearly maintenance to repair wear and tear on the trails requires approximately R150 000, with additional funding needed to improve them further. It costs about R2 500 per day to cut trails high in Jonkershoek. The value of well structured tracks can’t be underestimated. The total of R312 013 raised in 2012/13 was fully invested into trail building.
To raise further funds, Stellenbosch’s BMT shop is collaborating with well-known artists to organise a second BMT Bike Art Auction on 26 November 2014 at Ride Inn Stellenbosch.
More details at Stellenbosch Trail Fund.
Report by Louise Ehret