4x4 trail re­view

Hobby Park

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - Text: GG van Rooyen

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.

THE TRAIL

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.

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