The beautiful coastal town of Hermanus in the Overberg, is known as the whale watching capital of the world. The town is however not just famous for whaling, but also trailing, as it hosts some of the best trails in the country. The Fernkloof Nature Reserve plays host to more than 60km of trails traversing the most pristine Fynbos vegetation the Cape Region has to offer. The trails offer something for runners of all fitness levels and all ages, and as they branch off from one another one can decide how long you want to run. There are four colour-coded trails, which are clearly marked by signboards and colour-coded markers on the ground. All trails start and end at the Visitor Centre (34°23’40.09″S; 19°15’57.30″E) where you will find the following map. Please note the map does not contain all the routes. However to put your mind at rest, the town of Hermanus is visible pretty much from every trail on the route and getting lost is not an option. Spectacular views of Hermanus and Walker Bay from all the routes are guaranteed and you might even see some whales from the trails if you throw a binnoc into your hydration pack.
Blue Route – 2.2Km
The Klipspringer is the easiest of the routes and recommended for novice trail trotters. There are several options to increase the route distance by deviating onto the contour path, the red route or taking a loop within the red route. The blue route drops down towards the gardens, crosses the tar road between the visitor Centre and the offices and climbs gradually west to the rock bluff called Klipspringer, before returning to the visitor Centre and joining the red route for the last 600m.
Green Route – 3.5km
This circular route reaches the summit of the hill called Lemoenkop after a relatively steep incline with a few steps thrown into the mix. This is also a nature trail with a series of numbered marker posts at which features of interest can be seen.
Red Route – 3.6km
The red route is very similar to the green route in difficulty and is also circular in nature. As with most of the routes is starts with an uphill section that leads to a forest with a beautiful little waterfall known as Assegaaibosch. The trail then doubles back to a point below Kanonkop, from where another path leads up to the Jeep Track. The red route gently drops back south to an intersection with the blue route, then north east down to the visitor Centre.
Orange Route – Varies
The orange route is the longest of the routes and for hikers the duration is recommended as 1 day. Depending on your level of running fitness and what route you decide on, it can easily take a couple of hours of running. The route has two circuits, with the longer of the two ascending by 700m and thus has some very steep sections. The run however takes you past Galpin Hut and Galpinkop and all the way to the top of the Kleinrivier Mountains, where you will be rewarded by not only views of Walker Bay, but also the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. The trail is marked in orange only from the saddle of Lemoenkop (on the Green route) and distances are given from the visitor Centre.
Fernkloof Cliff Path – varies
If you don’t like the gravel and you’re more of a pavement pounder, you will be very happy to know that the Fernkloof Nature Reserve also has a paved Cliff Path. The Cliff Path stretches all the way along the coast and thus instead of running up the mountain simply head to the coast and connect with the path. There are well marked signs to the path, but if unsure just ask at the visitors Centre.
Once in Hermanus follow the Hermanus Main Road/R43 towards Voelklip. Turn left into Fir Avenue (just before the Voelklip traffic circle). Keep going straight until you reach the main entrance of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Continue along the narrow tarred road until you reach the Visitor Centre
• Entrance is free
• Dogs are allowed, but must be kept on a leash
• The trails are open 7 days a week
• For more information visit www.fernkloof.com