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Harkerville Coastal Hiking Trail

This two day, 26 km hiking trail, starts and ends at Harkerville Forest Station. It passes through some prime examples of high-forest, crosses sections of coastal fynbos and takes the hiker along some breath taking natural scenery along a cliff coast with low water pools, eerie coastal caves and pebble beaches. Sleep over at two huts; the Harkerville hut and Sinclair hut. Each have basic facilities, including ablutions, single bunks with mattresses, water and fire wood. This is not your conventional two day hiking trail. If little wooden bridges, ladders, chains, steep cliffs, narrow wooden stairs and soaring heights are your cup of tea, you won't be disappointed. Hikers need to be quite fit as there are many ups and downs. Sea caves are often visible along the trail and tell of the sheer landscaping power of the Indian Ocean. Stop to rest, snack regularly and enjoy the spectacular views.

Day Walks

The section provides for everyone, from old and youth, to the fit and physically disabled. Stop at Garden of Eden and learn the marked indigenous trees by name as you stroll the forest on a comfortable 800m boardwalk. Picnic, water and ablution facilities are available. The facility is situated between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, on the N2.

Other short walks included the scenic Kranshoek day walk and picnic site, with spectacular views over the Indian Ocean, and transects through Afromontane Forest, Coastal Scrub Forest, low tide pools and Coastal Fynbos. This walk is 9km long and takes you 4 to 5 hours of walking. The Perdekop day walk is also 9km long and provides the hiker with a shady forest walk, ideally for educational and spiritual fulfillment.

  • Perdekop trail
    Distance: 9.5km; circular (Easy - moderate: 3-4 hours)
    Description: This 9.5km circular walk starts and ends at the SANParks Harkerville Forest Office. The walk is relatively easy and can be completed at a leisurely pace in 3-4 hours. A majestic stand of Hard Pear trees (Olinia ventosa) can be found between the 2 and 3 km markers. These trees are known to be one of the fastest-growing trees under forest conditions, characterized by their reddish brown flaky bark and the strong smell of almonds in newly cut wood or crushed leaves. A wonderful natural swimming pool, below a waterfall and surrounded by a lush growth of ferns is situated along the route between the 5 and 6 km markers. This is a great place to stop, rest, and snack.
  • Elephant trails
    • 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)
    Description: The three trails are a scenic delight with clear streams and mysterious green beauty. They follow old woodcutter trails in some parts, taking the hiker past some stately old Outeniqua yellowwood trees. The White Elephant Trail has the most enticing rock pool where hikers can stop for a picnic or have a dip in summer. The Black Elephant Trail passes through both the Ysterhoutrug and King Edward VII picnic sites and the Red Elephant Trail crosses a little stream exactly halfway ideal for a lunch stop. Hikers can link the routes into one route of 18.2km which takes approximately 6 - 7 hours.
  • Terblanche trail
    Distance: 6.5km; circular (Moderate: 3-4 hours)
    Description: The Terblans Walk in the Gouna Forest is a relatively short walk which was heavily exploited by woodcutters in the past. It starts and ends at the Grootdraai picnic site, ideal for a picnic before or after the hike. From the Grootdraai picnic site the trail heads into the forest sharing the path with the Outeniqua overnight trail - be sure to keep right at the fork and follow the bush pig signs. The picnic site at the end of the trail has beautiful picnic tables under the trees and there are toilets as well. On departing, hikers can drive back the same way, or continue with Kom-se-pad which joins the R339 between Uniondale and Knysna - a beautiful round trip of about 60km from Knysna. Excellent route for bird watching and has a beautiful rock pool to swim in.
  • Kranshoek day walk
    Distance: 9km; circular (Moderate – difficult: 4-5 hours)
    Description: The trail starts at the Kranshoek picnic site at the top of a tall waterfall and winds its way through the lush forest down into the gorge through which the waterfall's stream flows. It follows this stream towards the coast and then heads along the coast before veering up the slopes toward the Kranshoek View Point. From the viewpoint hikers can either walk back to the picnic site via the 1km fynbos trail or along the dirt road which links the viewpoint and picnic site. The full walk is fairly tough and demands a descent and ascent of 200 metres. Good walking shoes are essential. Highlights include natural rock pools, pebble beaches and a coastal cave.
  • Kranshoek fynbos trail
    Distance: 1km; one way (Very Easy: 20 - 30 min)
    Description: This walk is ideal for young and old so take the kids and introduce them to this wonderful fynbos environment. A breath taking fynbos trail which runs along the very edge of the deep valley.
  • Forest Flora trail
    Distance: 1km; circular (Very easy: 20 - 30min)
    Description: This very easy 1km walk is situated in the Harkerville Indigenous Forest between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, easily accessible from the N2 and starts and ends at the Kranshoek Picnic Site. This walk is ideal for young and old so take the kids and introduce them to the wonderful forest environment.

Cycling Trails

Harkerville forest is the ideal location for recreational mountain-biking. Four colour-coded routes – ranging from easy family rides to superb single track – meander through coastal fynbos and indigenous forest. All four start and finish at the Garden of Eden, on the N2, where permits must be obtained.


The Garden of Eden

The Garden of Eden is situated right on the N2 between Knysna and Plett and serves as a great place to stretch your legs and freshen up in the cool, green forest. This is one of the most lush and beautiful parts of the Knysna forest and definitely a must-see when visiting the Garden Route. The major attraction is the forest itself; absolutely beautiful yellowwood trees, thick green foliage and fresh, trickling streams. A short walk follows over 1km of wooden boardwalks and bridges and is entirely wheelchair friendly. There are a number of wooden benches and tables along the trail, great for a picnic.

Forest Legends Museum in Diepwalle

This museum holds some of the forests best kept secrets where the lives of woodcutters, gold-diggers, settlers and foresters will intrigue you. Get up close with one of the most southerly elephants of the African continent, albeit just a skeleton. The museum houses a variety of displays and exhibitions which tell the long and winding story of the legendary Knysna Forest, its forest folk and the elusive Knysna Elephant.

'Rooted in time' self-drive 4x4 route

The deep and mysterious forests of the Garden Route National Park hold many cultural stories, sites and artefacts to explore. This self-drive route takes the visitor on a half-day meander through Diepwalle and Gouna forests. From old forester’s houses to more modern forest museums, visit the biggest trees in the forest and stand in awe at the highest mountain tops. As the name suggests, the route was originally designed around 10 places of cultural interest and significance in the area. Each stop can be explored and experienced along with guidance from a newly designed route map and well placed interpretive boards.
View the Rooted in Time brochure.

Kranshoek Picnic Area and Viewpoint

One of the most beautiful spots on the southern Cape coast. Kranshoek offers the visitor dramatic cliff-top views of the coast at the edge of this majestic forest. From the Kranshoek viewpoint, numerous lovely rocky bays along the coastline can be seen. Enjoy the picnic area which has braai facilities plus a little stream where the kids can get their feet wet while searching for frogs and other interesting creatures. Enjoy the peaceful sound of the waterfall just a stone’s throw away and take a short refreshing walk in the forest close by.

King Edward VII Big Tree

The Big Tree, also known as the King Edward VII tree, is a famous landmark and visitor attraction near the Diepwalle Forest Station. This giant Outeniqua yellowwood (Podocarpus falcatus) tree is more than 800 years old and is one of the few giant trees left after the unsustainable method of tree harvesting was stopped in 1939.

Water Activities


Kayaks can now be hired directly from the SANParks Thesen Island office: +27 (0)44 302 5600.

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Did You Know?

  • The Wilderness section of the GRNP has a Ramsar site (wetland of global significance). It has the potential to conserve whole ecosystems from catchments to sea.