Hiking Trails

hiking

HIKING TRAILS

OVERVIEW

Clarens Hiking: For those who love to explore, St Fort offers four expertly laid out hiking trails. For the more adventurous, we have the Cannibal Trail with sleep-over facilities at the cave, complete with historic rock art. For a brisk morning or afternoon walk, we offer three shorter trails: The Mushroom Rock Trail, The Batwing Falls Trail and the Kloof Trail. All these trails take you through differing landscapes, from breathtaking mountain views, overhang caves, to river walks with numerous picnic spots, forest ambles and boulder hopping, in and along, gorges. The trails are well marked and provide all the amenities a hiker demands, from comfortable bedding, ablutions with flush toilets and hot showers as well as a reed enclosure with braai facilities. If you haven’t hiked in Clarens yet, you are are missing out on some of the country’s most scenic landscapes.

CANNIBAL TRAIL

Legend has it that a cannibal was active in this area and kept his captives in one of the many caves, where he fed them for later consumption.

The route is a circular one of approximately nine km the first day and seven km the second day. The route takes you through differing landscapes, from stunning mountain views, to river walks, forest ambles to boulder hopping in and along gorges. This beautiful farm is situated in the Rooi and Witte Berg Mountains of the Eastern Free State. This is a hikers hike, well marked and provides all the amenities that a hiker demands, with numerous picnic spots, a swimming hole, interesting scenery and a level of hiking that fits the serious hikers but not too strenuous for the beginner hiker.

One the first day the trail passes five overhang caves with rock ‘kraals’ where there are still remains on bushman paintings in some of them, passing the batwing cave on the way. The second day offers breathtaking views of the Malutis including Horeb, Woodhouse, Generaalskop, Visierskerf and George’s Pimple. You will walk through a valley along a mountain stream. You will cross the Klein Caledon river with a suspended bridge and finishing the trail that leads through a shady popular forest. Before you cross the river for the second time, you can leave your backpack at the crossing to climb up to the Mushroom Rock.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. HOW LONG IS THE TRAIL?
It is a 2 day hiking trail
The 1st day is 9km and the 2nd day is 7,5km
A walk to the Mushroom Rock adds an optional extension of 2,5km on the 2nd day.

2. DESCRIBE THE OVERNIGHT FACILITIES
The 1st night can be spent in one of two dormitories.
THE COTTAGE – has 8 bunk beds and can sleep 16. It has 4 toilets and 4 showers.
THE MELKSTAL – can sleep up to 30/32 in bunk beds. It has 4 toilets and 4 showers.
The 2nd night is spent in a large cave that can accommodate up to 40 hikers. There are 2 cold water showers and 2 flush toilets. We have had over 90 children sleeping over.

3. WHAT DO YOU PROVIDE AT THESE FACILITIES?
At the 1st overnight facility we provide a bed and mattress, braai grid, wood, cold and hot water, showers, electricity, an urn, a 2 plate stove, a fridge and 2 large iron pots.
At the cave we provide a mattress, cold running water, a braai grid, kettle and fire-wood.

4. WHAT IS OFFERED IN BEDDING?
We do not provide bedding or towels.

5. WHAT DO WE NEED TO BRING?
All food, eating and braai utensils, toilet paper, toiletries, sleeping bags, water bottles, sunblock and anything else a hiker may deem necessary.

6. CAN ONE ARRIVE AND START WALKING STRAIGHT AWAY WITHOUT MAKING USE OF THE 1ST NIGHTS FACILITIES?
Yes, provided one does not start too late. It takes between 4 and 6 hours to get to the cave. Day 2 takes 3 to 4 hours.

7. CAN THE 2 DAY TRAIL BE DONE IN 1 DAY?
Yes, it can be done, but one might then miss out on leisurely beholding some spectacular views.

8. IS IT POSSIBLE TO BOOK THE TRAIL EXCLUSIVELY FOR ONE GROUP?
We accommodate an average of 30 hikers per weekend. Unless a single group consists of a minimum of 30 hikers, accommodation and facilities are shared with other groups.
Regrettably we do not provide exclusivity.

9. IS THERE ANY PRIVACY IN THE CAVE?
No, all hikers sleep on the ground sheets provided and also share fires for braaiing and socialising.

10. WHAT IS THE COST PER PERSON?
R400 per person for the accommodation and hiking.
1st night accommodation in dormitories = R150 pp
Cave accommodation = R150 pp
Hike = R100 pp

11. WHAT IS THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO HIKE?
Hiking can be done all year round. We have a heater in the smaller dormitory. The most pleasant night temperatures would be from September to May. Day temperatures in winter are ideal for hiking.

12. IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE BACKPACKS AND OTHER EQUIPMENT TAKEN UP TO THE CAVE?
Yes, this is called slack-packing and must be arranged before arrival. The rate is R30 per item to the cave and R30 per item from the cave. The items must not be too heavy for one person to load.

13. DO YOU PROVIDE A MAP, AND HOW WELL IS THE TRAIL MARKED?
Yes, we do provide maps. The trail is very clearly marked. It is not possible to get lost.

14. DO YOU PROVIDE A GUIDE TO ACCOMPANY THE HIKERS?
No, a guide is not provided. A clearly marked trail and map is sufficient to get you to your end destination.

15. ARE THERE TIMES DURING THE YEAR WHEN THE TRAIL IS CLOSED?
No, the trail is always open for hikers.

16. IS THE TRAIL ONLY OPEN ON WEEKENDS, OR CAN ONE MAKE BOOKINGS DURING THE WEEK AS WELL?
Bookings can be made for any day of the week. Hikers who prefer not to share facilities, might find that this would be possible with a midweek booking.

17. HOW SAFE ARE THE CARS THAT STAY BEHIND AT THE 1ST OVERNIGHT FACILITY?
We, thankfully, have had no incident of theft or damage of any kind.

18. WHAT ARE ST. FORT’S CO-ORDINATES?
The entrance to St Fort is at GPS waypoint S28 33.477 E28 24.631
Cannibal Cave GPS S28 34.482 E28 26.264
St Fort is situated 6 km from Clarens
We only have MTN signal on the farm
After the turn-off to St Fort Farm, the road to the Hikers is clearly marked (about 1km from turn-off).

19. IS THERE DRINKING WATER ON THE ROUTE?
The streams run most times, but when we experience dry periods, it is better to take a water bottle.

20. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE ARRIVE LATE AT THE 1ST NIGHTS FACILITY?
It is difficult for me to wait on late arrivals (after 17:00). We write names on blackboards at the 2 dormitories. The lights will be on and the facility is left open for late arrivals. No need to collect keys.

21. VERY IMPORTANT
The owners of St Fort Farm live in Clarens. The house seen from the road coming in, is a guest house. Please do not disturb residing guests.

22. HOW DOES ONE BOOK AND HOW ARE PAYMENTS MADE?
We prefer to receive enquiries via email; info@stfort.co.za. Once a booking has been made, we supply banking details for a 50% deposit. We prefer all arrangements (including slack-packing) be prepaid before arrival.

  • Duration: 2 Day hike with sleepover in Mikes Cave
  • Distance: Day 1 – 9km Day 2 – 7km Possible 2,5km extension on day 2 (Mushroom rock)
  • Bookings: Contact Ernestine at info@stfort.co.za 082 902 9010 / 058 256 1101 or at the St Fort office on the farm
  • Map available on arrival
  • Markings: White Feet
  • Price:R400p.p including 2 nights accomodation in the hikers hut and cave

MUSHROOM ROCK TRAIL

One of the shorter trails leads up to the Mushroom Rock, a well-known landmark in the area. The Mushroom Trail is a gentle two hour walk which takes you all along the Little Caledon River where there are many inviting spots to have a picnic or just to sit down and relax, before starting the gradual climb up the mountain to the famous Mushroom Rock from where one can behold the splendor of the magnificent view.

  • Duration: 1hr
  • Distance: 3km
  • Bookings: Contact Ernestine at info@stfort.co.za 082 902 9010 / 058 256 1101 or at the St Fort office on the farm
  • Map available on arrival
  • Markings: Yellow Arrows
  • Price: R40p.p Day ticket

BATWING FALLS TRAIL

This is a moderate hike which starts from St Fort. An initial climb is rewarded with breathtaking views of St Fort and the valley. Once on the plateau, that path follows a contour which takes you to Batwing Falls. You can drink from these falls and enjoy the falls which are so aptly named as they resemble the wings of a bat.

The path traverses across the face of the Batwing Falls with a short climb out of the valley. Follow the trail which leads you home to St Fort.

    • Duration: 2.5hr
    • Distance: 5.9km
    • Bookings: Contact Ernestine at info@stfort.co.za 082 902 9010 / 058 256 1101 or at the St Fort office on the farm

li>Markings: White Arrows

  • Price: R40p.p Day ticket

 

KLOOF TRAIL

This is a moderate hike which starts on the road from St Fort towards the kloof. Follow the arrow signboard to the right. The hike is a gradual climb which takes you to the top of the St Fort farm escarpment where you have a 360 degree view of the mountains. A steep zigzag climb down brings you back to the road.

  • Duration: 1.5hr
  • Distance: 3.9km
  • Bookings: Contact Ernestine at info@stfort.co.za 082 902 9010 / 058 256 1101 or at the St Fort office on the farm
  • Markings: Green Arrows
  • Price: R40p.p Day ticket
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RATES

Cannibal Hiking Trail (2 days)
R400 p.p

DAY HIKERS:

R40 p/p
Children under 10 – R10 p/p

We have 3 short trails of between 1½ and 2½ hours. (Mushroom Rock Trail, Kloof Trail and Batwing Trail)