ASICS Trail Runner Toni McCann loves nothing more than fresh mountain air. This route an hour or so out of Cape Town, is one of her favourite weekend missions.
"The route has it all – breathtaking views, flowing trails, single-track dreams and the wonder of the fynbos vegetation. Truly one of the best training grounds and is a highly accessible place to feel miniatured among giants," she says. Here are the details, thanks to Toni:
HOW TO GET THERE
Drive up the Franschhoek pass, when you get to the top turn left (if coming from Franschhoek side) onto a gravel road towards the Mont Rochelle Reserve. You’ll get to the gate where you’ll pay a small reserve fee and then you’re ready to head out onto some epic trails.
Depending on the loop you choose you can do one of three loops, all starting from the entrance of the reserve:
- 9km, +670m elevation gain
- 13km, +920m elevation gain
- 16km, +1220m elevation gain
All the loops are 99% singletrack and, despite getting you so much elevation quite quickly, would be considered by some (not all for sure), to be runnable. There are some technical sections but all-in-all it is a well maintained and beautifully fun singletrack network. There are over 30km of walking, hiking and running trails in the reserve, which is a UNESCO Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve. The paths take you through tall proteas, grasses and over the Jan Du Toit's River. Your hard work getting to Perdekop, Wemmershoek Peak or Du Toit's Kop, is rewarded with the most spectacular views of the Franschhoek Valley.
Starting at the gate on the 16km loop you head out right along the 500m of jeep track until you drop down and head over the rickey bridge – like the Bridge to Terabithia, your gateway into the wonderful trails of Mont Rochelle. From here its uphill for 6km, where you get 870m of elevation gain. It’s a lot but the trails are flowing and beautiful and the kilometres melt away as you get higher and the views become more spectacular. The last 500m up to Perdekop is a little out-and-back section that takes you to the peak. At Perdekop you look out over Franschhoek, over into Theewaterskloof, and views out towards Rawsonville and Worcester. It’s quite breathtaking, not only due to the climb to get to the top.
From there you head back down and stick right heading towards the manganese trail and Du Toit's Kop. A small slog up to the top (the remaining 300m) of elevation is rewarded with a feeling of being on top of the world (or at least the Franschhoek Valley) at the top. From here it’s a long and fun downhill back to the car.
The ideal start time would be early in summer months as it can get very hot. In winter it’s less important but care should be taken as it has been known to snow there.
The Asics FujiTrail Scort is comfortable and breathable and the FujiTrail Top has some extra pockets at the back which are great for storing some extra snacks. You will likely need some hydration pack and around 500ml-1L of water as it is quite a tough run. I really enjoy the FujiTrabuco 9 as it provides excellent grip and a good level of cushioning for the longer time on my feet.