I was invited to stay over at Hennops 16th and 17th September, to give another review as I did my previous review over a year ago and they let me know that they had done many changes. On Saturday the 16th, I did the full course 27km, elevation gain 518m.
Coincidentally a friend road the trail on Sunday with a group of intermediate riders. My blog is for the average rider but I was curious about his perspective. He thoroughly enjoyed the trail, he raved about Kylami, but wants more distance as his group would usually cover much more distance on a trail and it is a far drive out. He was disappointed that there was no restaurant.
Personally being less fit and slower the distance is enough for me and I believe it is for most average riders. Last year when I visited the trail I felt it was too short for the long drive but I think that most riders will be satisfied with the 27km as it is fun and thrill packed.
They definitely have the fun factor down and it being 99 percent single track makes for great riding.
It gets very hot out there take plenty of water if you are doing skeleton.
I like to look for the X-factor with every different trail. What makes a trail unique and stick out? What makes me want to go back? Hennops has few of those X factors, the suspension bridge that starts and ends the ride, the switch back downhill at Snake and the fast and fun Kyalami section. This not a lazily slapped together trail relying on jeep tracks, the trails are well maintained and as I said 99 percent single track.
Hennops is a great place to take the entire family. If they don’t mountain bike, they can pack a picnic and go hiking or swimming while you are on the trails. Most of the trail is quite child friendly, if it gets too difficult they can simply get off and walk. Also the different sections all link to each other so it is easy to choose a suitable distance.
There are plenty of toilets and there are showers. For an additional fee you can have access to the picnic area and swimming pool. There is a coffee kiosk and a tuck shop they only sell light snacks and no meals. Hennops is set up for having a picnic or a braai after your ride. Unfortunately there is no restaurant.
I’m adding this in as there are a few places where I have stayed over and it might be useful to give a perspective of what is available. I won’t put this section in all my ratings. The self-catering cottage has a lovely view and everything is provided for. The view is lovely. The cottage has a shower, fridge, microwave and stove and all the cutlery and crockery that you need. Towels are provided. There is one bed and not two singles so suited for couples. There is a private braai area as well.
There is also a hikers’ cabin but the owners are considering doing away with this as they have had too many unruly people staying over and causing havoc. I forgot to ask about camping.
Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done about it but the last section of the road from JHB to Hennops is under extreme construction for the next 2 years. There is a longer more scenic route that can be done or simply leave earlier and prepare for a bit of a wait where the construction is happening.
Entry is R 40 p/p and R 70 p/p if you are going to picnic. The going rate is R50 and I feel at R 40 it is well worth it.
The Trail Itself:
Security on Trail
Fun & Variation
Security on trail:
Security seems to be very good at Hennops, they have not experienced any issues as yet. On day 1, Michael had a side wall tear and I rode alone for a great deal of the ride while he Magyvered the tear with energy snack packet. On day 2 we decided to do our own thing and ride separately. I always say don’t ride alone, attacks are not the only danger injury is another, but I took a very casual non-technical route on the second day.
Please note that Snake and Skeleton are both rated for intermediate riders. Skeleton is not really technical but it is quite a workout so you have to have the strength and fitness.
Fun & Variation
I had soooo much fun. They have divided the trail into different sections, you can choose to skip a section and carry on with the next. My favourite sections were –
- The River (beginning windy up and down) through forested sections
- Snake (windy technical downhill). Even though I have a fear of heights I still enjoy being a little frightened. The downhill was extremely thrilling.
- Kyalami is also great fun I love that they had the idea to make one section flatish, fast and flowy.
The beginning of Skeleton has a couple of dips back and forth, that I also enjoyed a great deal (like riding a roller coaster).
Beginners, please do not do Snake, it is technical and can be very dangerous for someone who does not know the limitations of their own skills. If your skills are not great and you want to see it, you could possibly go down it pushing your bike.
When I last did Hennops, there was not much on the technical side but Snake has a thrilling down hill and some of the climb is a bit technical as well, they have done a good job of getting an interesting and fun ride for the intermediate rider.
There are no advanced rider sections.
I would not say that Skeleton (also rated intermediate) is extremely technical but it is for the fitter rider.
Hennops is very beautiful. We were riding it end of winter, although at 30 degrees +, it definitely felt like summer. It is dryer and harsher looking this time of the year but makes you feel like a hard core mountain biker.
When I last rode Hennops I advised Ilse that as the mtb trail becomes busier the two-way swing bridge could become dangerous. She took my advise and put up signage that it is a two bridge. Check before crossing that there is nobody on the other side!
Some of the fence crossings are not designed to ride over (although I know some people with mad skills who will ride them), to make it easy to cross, steps have been put in.
With my last review part of the trail went through the 4×4 off road section and I warned to be careful of 4 x 4 vehicles. This is no longer the case, there are 1 or 2 sections where you may encounter a vehicle or hikers but there are few obstructions now.
Maintenance & Trail Marking:
The trail markings are very clear now and I did not get confused at all. Maintenance was very good as well. Some of the trail in skeleton was a bit rough and grassy, I am not sure if it is new or if it is because it is not ridden as often.
The previous time I did Hennops there was not much climb but that has changed. Safari has a quite a bit of climb, Snake has a nasty climb and Skeleton has those long gradual climbs that never seem to end. I was not a happy chappy with the last Skeleton climbs, I started to see why it has its name. It was over 30 degrees, I am unfit due to recent flu and the climbs just kept on and on and on. A few times I lay down and pictured someone finding my skeleton on one of the hills eventually. I often whine and say that for every nasty uphill there is not an equally rewarding downhill but there are quite a few good fun downhills.