Groeneweide Hiking Trail
Groeneweide. It's just what the name says. It's a lush and green jungle! It's soothing to the eye and the undergrowth is quite thick compared to other parts in the Garden Route forests. The long loop also has some fynbos and grassland sections.
There are three distances to choose from, 13km (Red), 11km (Blue) and 9km (Green). They form a set of loops which are interlinked. Be on the lookout for the different coloured trail markers and stick to the path, getting lost in the forest is no picnic. The trails are mostly forest single tracks and paths used by woodcutters. The exertion rate is medium and can be done by the whole family with older children.
Pack enough snacks and drinks as you will definitely be looking for excuses to stop numerous times, the first being the crossing of the Kaaimans River. Further down stream is a shallow pool for your first dip. The path re-enters the forest slightly right from the crossing on the opposite bank.
When on the stretch of road that runs parallel to the electricity pylons (Red route), be on the lookout for a cleared path to the left and shortly afterwards a footpath to your right down the hill. The path leads to a beautiful section of the Silver River were it flows over rock beds forming big rock pools. Another great spot to stop for snacks, photos and a well deserved swim in summer. Beware though, some of the rocks are extremely slippery. Once you are done here you have to go back up the footpath to the road under the pylons were you turned left.
Once back on the path and into the forest, don't miss the swimming sign. This left turn leads down a short steep path back to the Silver River and another stop for snacks ;-). This section of the river is more closed in by the trees and is an amazing and mythical spot, take your camera!
Various other mysterious, peaceful, secretive streams are crossed. Be sure to stop at the Perdekraal River, which is done by the means of a small bridge. Sit on the bridge and imagine seeing a forest elephant while swinging your feet over the side of the bridge...
Vegetation on the trail includes Palmiet, Outeniqua Yellowwood - of which there are some majestic specimens, Onderbos, Ironwood, Bastard Saffronwood, Stinkwood, fungi in different coloures on felled wood and seven-week ferns.
Bird-life is plentiful. Narina Trogan, Olive Thrush, Chorister, Cape and Starred Robins and the Knysna Loerie. But because of the low light under the canopy they are seldom seen. However, you can try to identify them by their calls. Wildlife includes Blue Duiker, bushbuck, vervet monkeys, baboons and bushpigs, as well as the predators leopard and caracal who are illusive and shy and rarely encountered.
When you stop to enjoy the tranquillity of the forest, the soothing sounds of the many streams, the majestic mountains, the magnificent views and your soul is revitalized...please don't litter. It's just so easy to bring everything back you take in.
Enjoy the hike!
Distances: 9km, 11km & 13km
Route markers: Square signs with coloured feet on representing the three different distances.
Permits & Cost: Self-issue permit at the trail head.
Directions: The trail starts at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Saasveld Campus which is situated along the old Knysna George road.
To get to Saasveld turn onto the Saasveld/Seven Passes road out of Courtney Road in George (At the Pine Lodge Conference Centre). Follow this road for 5km and turn left into Saasveld.
Once you entered the campus follow the road until you reach the sports fields then turn right just before the sports field. The trail starts near the tree line on the left hand side of the road after you pass the last sport field. You can park at the building on the right.
Saasveld (NMMU) entrance - S33 58 18.5 E22 32 04.8
Trail head - S33 57 29.0 E22 32 06.8
Other: The water in the streams is drinkable, the dark colour is due to the tannins and humic acids from the leaves on the forest floor.
Click images to enlarge.