4x4 trail review
Hobby Park in Krugersdorp isn’t situated in the sort of location you typically associate with a 4×4 trail. The outdoor venue isn’t close to town, it is in town. Why, there’s a KFC right across the street. So, you could be forgiven for assuming that, at best, it offers some easy obstacles aimed at absolute amateurs. Not at all. Sure, it does have a training track with some fun and unintimidating obstacles for newbies, but it also has a proper trail with challenges that’ll make even an expert blanche.
Hobby Park is located in the hills between Krugersdorp and Ruimsig, above the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. The area is deceptively hilly, and because of this, the 4×4 trail has some ‘interesting’ natural obstacles that’ll test extremely capable 4×4s. Some of the climbs consist of tall, rocky steps that require an excellent approach angle. The most notorious of these obstacles is Survivor, which is steep and slippery. You need a diff lock and some large tyres, and even then, it can be tricky. Our trail vehicle, Hellboy, managed it with relative ease, but the obstacle nevertheless required a concerted effort. Most of the time, owner Hansie Coetzee doesn’t even need to deflate the Wrangler’s massive tyres or engage the diff locks, but Survivor was a proper test that required all Hellboy’s off-road bells and whistles.
So, what is the official grade of the Hobby Park trail? Owner Mike Gonsalves is reluctant to assign a grade. “These are natural obstacles that are greatly influenced by weather conditions. Even the easiest obstacle at Hobby Park can become a tough test when it rains. However, you can definitely say that we have some obstacles that’ll challenge even a highly modified 4×4.”
In total, Hobby Park has 17 obstacles scattered along a 2.5km mountain track. While many of the obstacles are significantly easier than Survivor, this is still not a trail for inexperienced drivers and standard 4×4s. Most obstacles demand a diff lock and good ground clearance. As mentioned, an excellent approach angle is crucial, as the rocky steps so prevalent on the trail will quickly damage a plastic bumper. Your typical side step will also not survive.
It is worth mentioning that it was bone dry when we visited the trail, and even then, some of the obstacles were tough. This probably becomes a terror trail in the wet.
THINGS TO DO
As its name suggests, Hobby Park offers plenty of other things to do apart from off-road driving. There is a braai area, of course, as well as a paintball park and some excellent mountain-bike trails. Indeed, the venue is well known among mountain bikers, and it is worth taking your bike along when you visit. There are trails for beginners, as well as experienced riders. As with the 4×4 trails, some of the bike tracks are steep and rocky.
Hobby Park is unique in that it is centrally located and offers plenty of other activities. Some of the obstacles are tricky, but it’s still a great venue for a family outing. Bring the family and stick around for a braai after you’ve completed the trail. And if you’ve managed to complete Survivor, you’ve bagged some genuine bragging rights.