Joburg is among the world’s most treed cities and within city limits there is no shortage of scenic green spaces to take a stroll. For long walks and hikes take a short drive out of the city into the surrounding countryside where you can find private nature reserves crisscrossed by hiking trails that promise plenty of interesting fauna and flora and wonderful views, all within an easy day tripping distance.
Over the years we've made it our mission to get out and hike Gauteng and we always have our eyes and ears open for new trails to try out. Here's our comprehensive, tried and tested guide to Gauteng's hiking trails.
A NOTE ON PERMIT-HOLDER ONLY HIKING AREAS: In this hiking guide we have focused on trails that do not require a permit to visit. There are a number of very impressive hikes in the Magaliesberg area which can only be accessed by members of The Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) who have applied for the relevant permits to get on the property. In some cases it may be possible to apply for a permit as a non-member or as the guest of a member. Hikes that can only be accessed with such permits include Castle Gorge, Cedarberg Kloof, Dome Pools, Grootkloof, Mhlabatini, Lower Tonquani, Upper Tonquani and Ysterhout Kloof. For more on joining the MCSA and applying to visit one of their Magaliesberg trails visit magaliesberg.mcsa.org.za.
Adventure Zone Cullinan13km drive east of Cullinan in the scenic Muningi Gorge, Adventure Zone Cullinan offers high-octane ziplining and abseiling activities, and also has three interesting hiking routes that plot their way up and down through the wooded gorge. There are three hikes to tackle, a 2km, 4.5km and 8km, each of which involves some moderate scrambling up and down over boulders as you make your way along the riverbed of this scenic gorge. The 8km route should take around three to four hours to complete with some moderate uphills as you climb up a pass in the gorge before looping back around the top. For post-hike refreshments there's a small deck overlooking the dam at the top of the gorge serving drinks and snacks.
BOOKING: All activities, including hiking, should be booked online in advance at azcullinan.co.za.
Muningi Gorge, 13km east of Cullinan
In 2020 the Adventure Zone company were invited by the Voortrekker Monument and Museum to develop new attractions in the reserve that would reinvent and broaden the monument's appeal and make better use of the expansive nature reserve that surrounds it. The new hiking trails offer a choice of 3km, 5km or 8km routes. The trails scale the hill on which the Voortrekker Monument stands before tracing a winding path through the grasslands below and heading up again to the steeper slope on the adjacent hill up to the Schanskop Fort where you'll find some of the best views of Pretoria.
BOOKING: The hike should be booked in advance by phone so the team can know to expect you. Call +27 72 274 8259 to arrange your visit. You can pay the hiking fees (R80 per person) when you arrive.
BOOKING: There is no need to book in advance to enjoy Cradle Moon's cycling, running, hiking and swimming activities, pay for all activities at the activities centre on arrival (you will need to show your proof of payment to exit afterwards).
Plot 59 Beyers Naude Drive, Muldersdrift. Find out more here.
BOOKING: The trails are open strictly by prior appointment only. Hikers and trail runners must book and pay for their visit in advance by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
R513 Yellow board no. 78E, Farm Schietfontein Portion 19, Schietfontein, De Wildt. Find out more here.
BOOKING: The reserve is open for hiking, mountain biking, trail running and self-drive excursions. The reserve is open on Saturdays and Sundays and you must book your entrance permits in advance as only 50 entrance permits (one permit per car) will be issued per day. To book your visit email email@example.com.
Entrance on 493 Elandsfontein (105.30 km). Find out more here.
BOOKING: There is no need to book in advance to visit Hennops Hiking Trail. Note the last entrance to the trails is at 13:00.
Entrance off the R511 (10km south of the R105 junction). Find out more here.
40 minutes drive from Joburg and a few kilometres outside of Krugersdorp is this picturesque farm with a range trails meandering across the hills. The trails gently wind around the hills before swooping down to follow a river through a wooded valley towards a waterfall in the foot of the kloof. There are six well-marked and maintained trails to choose from. The most popular is the 7km Yellow Route which should take you around 75 minutes to complete. Note that these trails are designed with trail running in mind and so feature a lot of loops that you might find quite annoying. Unless you are on a mission to clock up your steps you might want to consider 'chicken running' some of the more boring loops.
BOOKING: Open Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. No prior booking is required although it can get busy so arrive as early as you can. Find out more here.
N14 (extension of Hendrik Potigieter, 18.40 km, Muldersdrift
BOOKINGS: This is a public nature reserve and no prior booking is required.
Entrance at Silent Pools, Frandaph Dr, Mondeor. Find out more here.
A nature reserve and heritage site, the Melville Koppies boast archaeological remains of Stone Age and Iron Age settlements, and great views over the downtown skyline. The best way to visit is on one of the Sunday morning three-hour guided hikes, which alternate between a 4km guided walk and a more challenging 10km hike, which both take in the area’s unique fauna and geology.
BOOKINGS: The Central Melville Koppies opens on Sunday mornings for walkers and hikers, entrance is strictly from 08:00 and you must have left the reserve by 11:30 (the gates will be locked). Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place on a guided hike.
Cnr Judith Rd and Orange Rd, Melville. Find out more here.
BOOKINGS: All hiking and cycling trails are open daily for exercise and the Fourways Farmers Market is also open on weekends. There is no need to book although the reserve may close to extra visitors if it gets too full, so we recommend getting there early.
Entrance on Arden Rd (off Ardeer Rd), Modderfontein. Find out more here.
This historic family farm sits right below the craggy foothills of the Magaliesberg mountain range and is popular with day visitors who come to hike the Rustig trails which climb their way up the crags to offer some spectacular views across northern Gauteng. There's a choice of easier trails ranging from three to five kilometres and a more challenging full day 13 kilometre trail which will take your right up to the top of the mountain. The trails pass through various terrain taking in grasslands, cave entrances and rocky outcrops with rewarding views down into the valley below.
BOOKINGS: Advanced booking is required to ensure a safe number of hikers on the trails. You must book your hike beforehand online here on the Rustig website.
Portian 91, Plaas Hartebeesfontein, Hekpoort. Find out more here.
Sable Ranch Hiking Trail
Spread across the lower slopes of the foothills of the Magaliesberg, this large game farm also offers game hunting and 4x4 trails. The full 12km hike is occasionally closed in hunting season, if it is closed you will only manage a 6km loop. The trail starts by meandering through farmland (look out for the albino wildebeest) before making a steep incline up a winding rocky path quickly revealing sweeping views. At the top there is a small dam (dubbed 'Camp's Bay') with a rope swing if you fancy a dip in summer. This is one of the few hiking trails that allows you to bring dogs (they must be on a lead). This is also a Park Run venue and you can join in a 5km park run trail on weekends.
BOOKING: The trails are open daily from 07:00 to 17:00 and there is no need to book in advance. It is worth calling ahead to check if hunting will be taking place on the day you plan to visit.
Sable Ranch, on the R96 just before Hekpoort. Find out more here.
On the southern border of Gauteng Province, this vast 19,000-hectare nature reserve is also an important area of archaeological research with the remnants of an ancient pre-colonial Tswana city recently discovered in the area. Named after the sugarbush (suikerbos), the reserve hosts meandering hiking trails that snake over the Suikerbosrand mountain range as well as a 60km tarred self-drive / cycling route that traverses the rolling hills taking in several dams and birding hides.
Day hikers can choose from the 11km Bokmakiere trail (make sure to leave very early, the area gets very hot around midday), the easy 4.5km Cheetah trail or the wheelchair-accessible 1km Toktokkie trail. The reserve is also popular for its overnight and multiple day hiking trails which make use of remote hikers cottages scattered through the reserve. Overnight trails should be tackled in a group (maximum ten hikers) and will need to be arranged in advance with the reserve.
Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, Heidelberg Road, R550 off N3, Nigel. Find out more here.
Tswaing Meteor Crater
1.8 kilometers wide, the Tswaing Crater north of Pretoria was formed more than 200,000 years ago when a meteor smashed into the earth. At the centre of the crater is a small lake and from the parking entrance a 7.5km trail will take you to the crater rim and down to the edge of the lake and back up again.
Soutpan Rd (M35), Soshanguve.
BOOKINGS: The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens is managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). There is no need to book in advance to visit the gardens.
Malcolm Rd, Roodepoort. Find out more here.
Windy Brow Game Reserve Adventure TrailsThere are three designated walking and trail running trails to choose from; the 4.5km Archaeology route, 3.3km Geology route and the 5km Ecology route, all of which trace an easy-going path through the gently rolling hills of this game reserve on the outskirts of Cullinan, east of Pretoria. The views across the plains towards Pretoria, the diamond mine and the distant Magaliesberg mountains are perhaps not as impressive as at other reserves, but the abundant game, including giraffes and zebras, more than make up for it.
Bookings: Open Saturday and Sunday from 07:00 (no need to book in advance). You can also visit during the week by prior arrangement. Find out more here.
Windy Brow Nature Reserve, Portion 2 Elandsfontein No 85, Cullinan