Some say George is just cold and wet while others say it is a small town with a big heart and big mountains. We say cold and wet is not everything that the sleepy but beautiful town of George on the Garden Route has to offer. In fact getting out and about is the best way to explore the magnificent mountains that frame this, one of South Africa’s oldest towns. So why not make the most of the scenery (like in the pic by Marko Kudjerski) and go exploring on what I feel are some of the most perfect hikes to do when visiting George.
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker with all the gadgets and gear or if you just fancy a walk and a view, you’ll find a hike on this list that will show you spectacular vistas, fynbos fields, historical structures and geological wonders.
#CityofGeorge is an amazing place and the #Outeniquamountains offer visions of breathtaking scenery wherever you go here. This artwork comprises 4 canvases with 1 powerful statement. #Aleph by #PauloCoelho was also a source of inspiration to me, when I created this piece. #MichelleBenjaminDigitalArtist
Doring Wilderness Trail:
While there is a seven-day Doring Wilderness Trail for serious hikers, this shorter circular route will give you a perfect taste of the river valley scenery, Outeniqua mountains and fynbos; as well as some game such as grey rhebuck, klipspringer and even leopard. Following the Doring River Valley this moderate to difficult hike begins at Waboomskraal and is approximately 15km long which should take about six to seven hours; depending how many times you stop to Instagram. A permit can be obtained from the Witfontein District Office or the Outeniqua Nature Reserve.
Pass to Pass Trail:
If you’re after some captivating fynbos hillsides and beautiful views over the Outeniqua Mountains, this 7.5km trail will deliver on every corner. Halfway along the route there is a detour to the top of Losberg and a perfect spot to stop and have a break. On a clear day you can see all the way to Victoria Bay and the whole George area. The start of the hike is either at the top of the Montague Pass next to the old stone quarry or at the TV antenna at the top of the Outeniqua Pass. Permits are available at the Witfontein Forestry Station and make sure you organise a lift back to your car, unless you’re really eager and decide to do the hike both ways.
Keur River Bridge Nature Trail:
One of the great passes in this part of the world has to be the Montague Pass built in 1857. If you fancy a short easy hike to enjoy the views of the pass and see the famous Keur River Bridge, but you don’t really want to work up a sweat, this is for you. More of a short walk than a hike it still offers wonderful views, indigenous bush and a little more history than others with the bridge being a National Heritage site. The walk starts at the Montague Pass picnic spot and is an easy 1 km which should take you about 30 minutes. No permits required.
Forest Buzzard Hiking Trail:
If you’re more a fan of the forest than battling vertigo on the mountainside then this easy short hike that starts at the Witfontein Forestry Station and winds through the pine and indigenous forests to a cascading waterfall, will suit you to a T. It’s a 2.2km circular route with benches along the way to sit and do some bird watching or just take a load off. The best part is you can even take your dogs (provided you keep them on a leash) but make sure you sign in and collect a map before you start.
Cradock Pass Trail:
This fairly strenuous trail is about 12km in length and is for more serious hikers. Following the tracks that the settler ox-wagons created as they traversed the treacherous Cradock Pass from the coast to the little Karoo, this hike takes you along a historical journey, across the slopes of George Peak. With magnificent views of the Karoo veld, the Outeniqua Mountains and plentiful fynbos it should take you about six hours. Beginning at the Witfontein Forest Station and ending at the North Station; you’ll need to organise transport back to your cars.
George Peak and Cradock Peak:
Probably the most strenuous hike on our list of perfect hikes to do when visiting Geroge, this trail is by far one of the most spectacular. Cradock Peak (1578m) is the highest peak in the Outeniqua Mountain Range and an equally towering George Peak (1337m) make this hike an almost bucket list item. The trail begins at the Witfontein Forest Station and after winding its way through pine forests it begins to climb up up and up some more. At one point you will reach a T-junction where you will go left for Cradock Peak and right for George Peak. Either way after about 2km climb upwards and some rock scrambling to the summit you will be rewarded with the most arresting view and it will certainly take your breath away. You can see all the way to Mossel Bay in one direction, the Swartberg Mountain Range in the other as well as to Knysna and even Formosa Peak which is more than a hundred kilometres away. This hike is 17 – 19km long and will take you about 10 hours, but it really is worth it. Make sure you read up about hiking in the mountains, safety and correct gear before attempting this one.
Gericke’s Point Moonlight Hike:
Not everyone is a mountain goat at heart but almost everyone loves a beautiful walk along a sandy beach. The beach walk from Swartvlei Beach, up the road from George, to Gericke’s Point can be done anytime. The best way to experience something truly different is to do the hike at full moon and discover all the wonderful secrets of the beach and rock pools at night. The hike has to be done with a guide and can be booked in advance. It costs about R120 per person and with Judy’s incredible knowledge the hike is a fascinating and magical experience. This walk is a great idea for the whole family.
The Garden Route is home to some of the South Africa’s most pristine indigenous forest, deep river valleys, towering mountains and endless stretches of fynbos which also makes it a prime hiking destination. Our list of perfect hikes to do when visiting George only touches on a few and there are so many more. Which ones have you done when you last visited this area?