Trail running has become one of the most popular outdoor sporting activities in the past few years and it is easy to understand why. People are seeking respite in nature, using it as a restorative mind, body and soul enriching training ground for various physical and mental pursuits. Across the Garden Route people are trail running to their hearts’ content, and making the most of our varied topography! This week Knysna & Partners focuses on three trails that are highly recommended by locals:
Garden Route Trail Park
The Garden Route Trail Park, which lies at the base of the lofty Outeniqua Mountain range near the Karatara River Gorge, hums with activity, enticing not only avid MTB enthusiasts but also adventurous trail runners as well. Owner Rob Dormehl has blazed a sublime, fluid forest trail which takes runners along the banks of the upper reaches of the Karatara River, including waterfalls and massive rock pools. After the trail, you can chill out at their Trail Café and enjoy good amenities and refreshments.
For more information: www.gardenroutetrailpark.com/
Buffalo Bay Trail
This trail is designed to incorporate the best of the varied flora that flourishes here, which includes a rolling dune field rooted with an incredible mixture of coastal fynbos, thicket and forest. The trail starts directly opposite the parking lot of the old Wildside Backpackers and leads up into the dunes above. The 4,5km looped route leads through some really pristine vegetation and is enjoyed by local trail runners looking for a short, fast training session. This is because it has some fairly technical sections with several short climbs, twists and turns, gnarled roots emerging from the forest floor and the limbs of a fallen tree or two blocking the path. The trail leads you to the eastern side of Buffs above the beach. It then winds back down to sea level and onto the beach about 600m from Buffalo Bay's main beach area, where you can have a refreshing dip, weather permitting, and then it’s just a short walk along the main road back to the parking area.
Goukamma Nature Reserve
Most of this reserve’s trails are suitable for trail running but a favoured one among local, avid, super fit trail runners is the Blombos Trail, one of six beautiful trails from which to choose in the Goukamma Nature Reserve. When you step onto the sandy pathway of the Blombos Trail you will immediately notice the milkwoods (our national tree) that characterise this first section of the trail. Dense thickets of very old specimens grow on this vegetated dune, which is the highest in the country. You will step out of the forest and walk for a short time alongside the unique spring-fed Groenvlei Lake which has no inflowing rivers and only an underground link to the sea. The reeds that skirt this lake are filled with the activity of scarlet and indigo- coloured dragonflies and various butterfly species. The trail then starts its steep ascent over the dunes and eventually you will find yourself at the summit with the most incredible panoramic views of the lake and distant mountains on the one side and the sea views on the other. This is tough trail running terrain that will leave you breathless in more ways than one. Only for the super fit!