George has always been known as a beautiful place and superb golfing destination but has one more feather in its cap to be very proud of.
Through the George Trails tourism project George can now boast with SA’s (and probably Africa’s) largest and most diverse mountain biking, trail running and hiking route network totalling more than 2300km across 100 different routes.
Apart from its size it is also the most diverse. Nowhere else in the country will you find beaches, mountains, plantations, indigenous forest, rivers, dams, farmlands, and Karoo within 20km of a city/town centre.
George Trails was founded in 2015 and is a project by the Green Sport Foundation non-profit organisation, which was also started in George. Last year the organization sourced funding from the Western Cape Government and George Municipality to market George as a trail-tourism destination, expand the route offering and contribute to trail maintenance. This enabled the organization to financially support the local trail maintenance efforts of the Hillbillies Mtb Club and Garden Route Trail Running (GTR) over the past five months.
The website was upgraded, and marketing efforts are ongoing. All routes are downloadable for free from the website www.georgetrails.org.za for navigation on GPS devices or smartphones. The website is also an incredible resource for information about the great outdoors around George. A variety of local role players were involved in the expansion project and around 20 jobs were created.
My Trail Town
George Trails forms part of Green Sport’s My Trail Town concept and is the alpha project. My Trail Town aims to launch in early 2022 and offer towns and cities across SA and the World the opportunity to use their local trails as a sustainable tourist attraction. When packaged and marketed correctly outdoor infrastructure such as trails can be a major attraction in lifestyle choices for people looking to relocate and holds many economic benefits. All whist leading to a healthier community.
As more people use George’s natural playground it is very important to respect landowner and conservation rules. George Trails advocates a variety of guidelines on the website for the safe and responsible use by the public of the trails, although this is not prescriptive in any way. The public is urged not to litter and to conserve fauna and flora.
What it means for our town
Joan Shaw, George’s Tourism Manager had the following to say: “George Municipality through its Tourism Section partnered with George Trails to facilitate this trail maintenance and marketing, as we see trails – for hiking, trail running and biking – in this diverse natural environment, as one of the unique features that George has to offer. This is demonstrated in the vast quantity and the high quality of our trails that extend from the mountains to the ocean, encompassing all terrains in between. We are proud that we have SA’s biggest and most diverse network of this kind, on our doorstep.
To strengthen our proposition, we also partnered with the George Mountain Ultra Trail (MUT) and South Africa’s best trail runner, Ryan Sandes, to promote these routes. During this event local teams were mobilised, and maintenance improved to keep users on the trails and not vary from the tracks to affect the surrounding natural areas, in so doing, promoting the attractions in an organised and responsible manner that cares for our environment and conserves our natural resources. We encourage the community and visitors to ‘take nothing and leave only footprints’ (or bike tracks) and enjoy the amazing trails at every opportunity.
Leon van Wyk, Executive Mayor of George had the following to say: “We are fully supportive of the efforts to encourage the safe use of our George mountain trails by the public and look forward to having tourists experience the unique lifestyle that George offers.”
Green Sport would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their contributions to the George Trails expansion project: Johann Swanepoel, Joan Shaw, Marthinus Esmeyer, Jacques Mouton, Zane Schmahl, Richard Muller, Deidre Cloete, Hillbillies Mtb Club, Garden Route Trail Running (GTR) and Doughgetters Accounting.