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Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve Trails

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18km from Heidelberg GT

-26.4536, 28.2205

4 - 12km, 1 - 3hours, Hard

+27 71 602 7579 www.gauteng.net

Configuration: There are two circular routes

General Information: Single-track through rocky terrain. The trails are marked with cement blocks with yellow-green footprints on top. There is also a longer (24km) hiking route, but most sections of the trail are barely or no longer visible, so best stick to the shorter loops. The reserve is open Monday to Friday from 07:15 to 16:00, and on weekends and public holidays from 07:00 to 17:00.

There are ablutions and good cell phone reception.

About

Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve with its kloofs, koppies, ridges and open plains takes its name from the sugar bush (suikerbos) protea. This shrub grows abundantly in this area. Suikerbosrand is the site of many Late Iron Age settlements and ruins of kraals decorate the hills. The stone walls are easy to spot from the trail, especially around the 6.5km point of the Bokmakierie Trail. Runners are also sure to see game, usually zebra and a variety of antelope.

Although there are some smooth and open sections, the trails at Suikerbosrand are challenging. Ascents and descents are interspersed with Highveld rocks. For the less technically adept runner there may be quite a bit of walking.

The only place you’re likely to get lost is getting to the start of the trail. From the parking area, walk past the Visitor Centre and look out for the signs indicating the Bokmakierie trail. The trails from the pedestrian gate take you onto the road. Keep walking uphill and look out for the cement route marker that shows the trail on the other side of the road. The first section of trail is short and it meanders back to the road. Continue walking uphill and after 140m you’ll pick up the trail again. From here, the trail is well defined with no diversions.

There are two main circular trails. The 4km Cheetah Trail loops around the koppies to the north-west of the parking area. The one you really want to do is the Bokmakierie Trail (yellow-green markers), which has two variations. The less-used, longer route diverges from the standard 10km loop at around the 7km mark, before a tar road crossing. Here the yellow-green footprint markers change to only yellow for the longer route and only green for the shorter route.

The longer version of the trail measures 11.8km. In reality there is only a 1.8km difference. The extension of the longer route is certainly easier terrain with less ascending over the last 3km or so. After the river crossing on the longer route, keep to the right to pick up the trail again. Be considerate to walkers and birders on the trails. The trails are single-track throughout.

There is an extensive network of hiking trails in the reserve that lead to, from and around hiking huts. However, these trails are rarely used and hardly known, so they’re generally overgrown and difficult to follow. The overnight huts are no longer in use.

Take the N3 South from Johannesburg past Vosloorus and turn right onto the R550. Brown ‘Suikerbosrand’ directional tourism signs mark the way. Continue for 6.4km, then turn left onto the reserve road.

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