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Trail review: Motorised mountaineering

8 November 2016

This month we visit the Piesangkloof 4×4 trail near Hartbeespoort, in Hellboy, 4×4 Muscle Trucks’ Jeep Wrangler. This trail offers something different with steep climbs, dizzying heights and a whole lot of adventure.

Piesangkloof, or banana valley, is not a 4×4 trail with obstacles fashioned to challenge certain aspects of an off-roader. Nope, what this trail offers is a tad more special than that. This hidden gem, with its strong emphasis on nature, is situated at the northern foothills of the Magaliesberg mountain range, with the self-drive trail leading to the top of the mountain. Soon after leaving the bush-camp area, you are faced with a few basic obstacles that serve the dual purpose of tantalising the adventurous taste buds, while also urging you to get your off-roading game face on.

With the adrenaline pumping in healthy doses, the slog to the top of the mountain can commence. The climb is steady, with the occasional steep section, which shouldn’t prove to be much of a daunting challenge for those with the necessary off-road credentials. The ascending track consists mostly of rocky surfaces that have the potential to test a vehicle’s traction to its limits. During the ascent, adventurers have the option to stick to the shorter route that goes up and around the mountain, or the longer five-hour route. We opted to stick to the shorter route, which looked like a promising proposition to challenge the big red Wrangler named Hellboy.

We enjoyed a quick pit stop, admiring the view from the top of the Magaliesberg, realising that this must be one of the only places to offer such a superb panoramic view, accessible in a motorised vehicle. Eager to attempt an incline of at least 30 degrees, we made a U-turn on top of the mountain. Normally, the Jeep is not really bothered with Newton’s laws of gravity, but with loose gravel and rocks offering the only form of traction, this obstacle delivered on the promise of challenging the normally unstoppable Hellboy. The fun also doesn’t stop with the official trail. In the event that you feel even more adventurous than usual, why not enquire about the steep gravel road, leading straight up the side of the mountain…

When we learnt that no visitor to the 4×4 trail has ever managed to successfully climb the road to the top we, of course, had to have a go. Even with the Jeep’s mud terrain tyres deflated to 0.6 bar, things didn’t look good for the Wrangler, as forward momentum turned into hole digging, one spinning wheel at a time. Eventually though, the Jeep managed to claw its way up there – becoming the first visitor’s vehicle to do so. Both low-range and good ground clearance are crucial to successfully confront the rest of the trail, too, and a rear differential lock comes highly recommended.

Piesangkloof offers 4×4 adventure in its purest form, with natural beauty, remarkable views and minimal human interference. Hiking trails through the valley are on offer, with an opportunity to cool down at the natural springs in the area. Camping and braai facilities are also available.

I wanna go, too!
Name Piesangkloof 4×4 Trails & Bush Camp
Location R104, near Hartbeespoort, North West
GPS co-ordinates S25.73186 /E27.69037
Accommodation Cabins available at bush camp
Food Braai facilities
Difficulty 3–5
Vehicle required 4×4 with low-range and good ground clearance, rear lock recommended
Price R200 per vehicle (short trail) R300 per vehicle (long trail)
Contact Mike Els @
Tel 084 422 9680

4×4 Muscle Trucks
This 4×4 trail review is brought to you by 4×4 Muscle Trucks, which specialises in creating off-road leviathans. Its most recent builds include the R2-million Hilux called Godzilla and Hellboy, the big and mean Jeep Wrangler featured on these pages. 4×4 Muscle Trucks is owned by Hansie Coetzee, who also owns TJM Pretoria-East. More information: Tel: 012 809 0090;

Text & Photos: Deon van der Walt