When it comes to nature trails in and around Knysna, we are extremely spoilt for choice, so we have hand-picked some of the gems to help you on your adventurous way …
Smack bang in the middle of Knysna’s urban landscape is the 10-hectare Pledge Nature Reserve – often referred to as the “Green Heart of Knysna”. An awe-inspiring 300 indigenous plant species are rooted across this reserve and the diverse plant biomes sustain prolific birdlife. Looking for a casual stroll? We suggest you make your way to there and immerse yourself in the magic of this special urban reserve.
Steenbok Park at Leisure Island is another favourite of the locals – child friendly, scenic and at low tide part of the walk around the island.
Fisherman’s Walk – Brenton-on-Sea
Fisherman’s Walk is a popular trail in Brenton-on-Sea which briefly skirts the cliffs edge of this lofty coastal town before descending to the shoreline. There it continues along a gorgeous section of craggy coastline with the ocean as your constant companion.
The two official access points to this trail are both located at Steenbras Street.
Blombos Trail – Goukamma Nature Reserve - Cape Nature
Popular with birders, this stunner of a trail is 15km in length, but can be split into two shorter circular routes: the 13.5km Porcupine Trail and the circular 6.5km Bushpig Trail. Hikers begin this trail by crossing the beautiful Goukamma River on a self-hauled ferry. The beauty of this trail is the all-encompassing views and the constantly shifting vegetation. Diverse habitats are found here, including South Africa’s highest and most extensive dune fields, large tracts of coastal fynbos and ancient Milkwood forests. From different vantage points you can gaze down upon the Goukamma River Valley, the Groenvlei Lake, the Indian Ocean to the south and the distant Outeniqua Mountains to the north.
For more info on this and other amazing trails in the Reserve visit: www.capenature.co.za
Cape Dune Molerat - Sedgefield
This hike in Sedgefield has been cleverly designed to showcase the visual splendour of our lake systems, one of the Garden Route’s most quintessential natural assets. The trail starts near the Rondevlei Bird Hide at the Wilderness National Park’s Scientific Services Station. Immediately after setting off on this 6km circular trail, one has a moderately steep climb through a densely forested, south-facing dune which rises up from the banks of Rondevlei, one in a series of interconnected lakes linked to the Indian Ocean. From the top of the dune you can see the entire lake system expanse, as well as thousands of birds which find sanctuary throughout this watery domain.
Terblans Trail – Diepwalle Forest
This 6,5km circular trail starts at the Grootdraai Picnic site and takes walkers into the heart of an ancient Afromontane indigenous forest. The trail starts with a steep ascent, before flattening out to a relatively easy amble. The beauty of this trail lies in the details, so be sure to take a closer look at the intricate web of components that make this verdant realm so special. You will cross tannin-tinted streams, skirt valleys of age-old forest ferns, gaze up at towering trees and brush past purple-tipped plectranthus … a forest wonderland awaits.
Elephant Trails - Diepwalle Forest
There are three amazing forest trails of varying length and difficultly that wind through pristine examples of Knysna Forest, all starting and ending at the Diepwalle Forestry Station. These trails are Green Flag accredited by the Hiking Organisation of Southern Africa (HOSA). Whether you want an easy amble or a more moderate jaunt, all these trails offer forest food for the soul.
Black Route: 9km; circular (Easy: 3-4 hours)
White Route: 8km; circular (Moderate: 3-4 hours)
Red Route: 7km; circular (Moderate – Difficult: 3-4 hours)
Circles in the forest
The heart of the forest where most of Dalene Matthee’s books are based, the Circles in the forest walk starts from the famous Dalene Matthee Big Tree at Krisjan-se-Nek Picnic Site. An easy to moderate walk, you have an option of a 3 or 9 km walk. It follows small tracks and an old mining path along the bank of Forest Creek. The trail is surrounded by high indigenous forest and meander in between streams and small wooden bridges – the wet high forest is particularly scenic. An option to swim in a cool forest pool makes it the perfect walk for a hot summers day!
Another trail that offers a delightful swim is Jubilee Creek in the Goudveld forest – one of the most popular of all our local forest forays. Pack a picnic and spend the day!
This is a fairly short (3,6km), but challenging, walk which involves a lot of climbing, but if you are fit and able it is a must-do because the reward is a series of magnificent rock pools on the Homtini River – all embraced by verdant forest. Pack a picnic and swimming gear so you can while away a summer’s day here. The trail is only open to 12 people a day. No children under 12 allowed. This trail starts at the Forest Edge Nature-lovers Retreat gate entrance.
Garden of Eden
This short 1.5km walk is accessible to everyone as it comprises a wooden boardwalk which is wheelchair & child friendly. The boardwalk takes you through a pristine tract of the verdant Harkerville indigenous forest and you will feel dwarfed by the grandeur of these stately trees. The entrance and parking lot is on the left (driving from Knysna) of the N2 between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.
Kranshoek Viewpoint and Picnic Site
One of the most beautiful spots on the Southern Cape coast, Kranshoek offers visitors sweeping cliff-top views of the coast and a sheltered picnic site. A short flora trail is available for those looking to learn about our floral heritage.
Kranshoek Coastal Day-Walk
This 9km circular walk is fairly tough and demands a descent and ascent of 200 metres. The trail leads through the forest to the beach, where for some distance the waves will be your guiding companion. You will rove through old coastal forest, and wind your way down from the plateau into a gorge with a gently flowing river. The trail weaves its way along the coastline, passing rocky outcrops that form buttresses. It is a kaleidoscope of colour around every corner: boulders draped with vivid orange and stark-white lichen; the emerald green of the forest and the sea’s shifting shades of blue.
(There is a 3km shorter option available)