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Knysna Hiking Trails

Posted on July 24, 2023
The best five not to be missed

Knysna is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream with some of the best hiking and birding opportunities in South Africa. Wedged between the Indian Ocean to the south and the Outeniqua Mountains to the north, Knysna is famous for its sandy beaches, steep rocky cliffs, calm estuaries and verdant forested mountains – offering varied landscapes to discover on outdoor adventures. A stay here makes it easy to see why it’s called the ‘Garden Route’.

Zigzagged with numerous hiking and running routes, Knysna is a destination with hiking trails for every age and fitness level. Whether you’re interested in a child-friendly seaside meander or a serious trek through the forest, you’ll find a trail to suit your desires.

We’ve listed a few of our favourite routes to inspire you to get your boots on and head into the outdoors for an experience of Knysna’s exquisite natural beauty.

Circles in the Forest

Distance | 3.1 km and 9 km routes

The Circles in the Forest (or ‘Kringe in ‘n bos) trail is situated in the Goldfield State Forest and starts and ends at the Krisjan-se-Nek picnic site. This is an easy to moderate walk – depending which route you choose.

The trail winds amongst giant forest ferns and trickling, frog-filled streams crossed by small wooden bridges – a delight for children. In the dappled shade of the forest, there is also a pool where you can cool off in, with a waterfall.

Three Elephant Hiking Trails

Black Elephant Walk | 9 km
White Elephant Walk | 8 km
Red Elephant Walk | 7 km

The aptly named Three Elephants Trails commemorates the once abundant herds which used to roam the forest. Choose one of the colour-coded trails and walk in their footsteps of giants to truly experience the wonder of the forest.

Each trail follows a circular route which begins and ends at Diepwalle Camp. The easiest is the Black Elephant Walk, a 9-km route that passes through the Ysterhoutrug and King Edward VII picnic spots. The White Elephant Walk is a moderate 8-km trail which features a lovely rock pool and picnic area. The Red Elephant Walk is the most difficult of the three, it passes through a magnificent stream that is ideal to cool off in on a warm summer day.

Jubilee Creek Waterfall Walk

Distance | 2.4km

One of our favourite spots in the entire Knysna Forest- The Jubilee Creek Waterfall Walk is a 3.4km section of the Outeniqua Hiking Trail. This short hike follows in the footsteps of the miners that flocked to Knysna in the 1880’s in search of gold. It was short-lived, but remnants of gold mining activity can still be seen along this centuries-old forest path.

Picnic in the sun-bathed forest clearing or walk the pretty (and relatively flat) walking trail along the creek to a small rock pool and waterfall, passing old miners’ diggings along the way.

Millwood Mine Trails

Distance | 5.6 km

If you’re in the mood for a mix of history and mystery, then the Millwood Mine Trails are the perfect choice. The roughly 5 km walk through the forest is made extra special as it offers an insight into the discovery of gold in the area and the subsequent gold rush.

Discover the lost treasures of the abandoned town of Millwood Mine tucked away beneath the forest canopy. You will find the remains of buildings, an evocative grave-yard and ghost-town street signs. Do the Millwood circular mine walk or go on a Mine Tour into tunnels. Order a light meal or enjoy a slice of cake at the Millwood Tea Garden.

Drupkelders Trail

Distance | 3.6km

The relatively short walk to Drupkelders is truly one of Knysna’s hidden gems. Although only 3.6km, the route is steep and hilly – so be sure to leave your flip flops at home and wear comfortable walking shoes with good grip.

Stop at the Homtini River for a snack and be sure to take your swim wear for a dip in the summer. The big pool is a wonderful spot for a swim but don’t miss seeing the stalactites and stalagmites in the ‘cellar’. The Drupkelders Walk at Forest Edge requires a permit at a cost, as only 12 persons per day are allowed in.

Top tip: Most of 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. However, please drink at your own risk!

What to remember:

  • Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots
  • A light jacket if the weather looks questionable
  • Swimming costume and towel
  • Sun protection – a hat and SPF
  • Water & snacks – there are no water points along the way!

Stay with us


Situated just outside of Knysna central, Knysna Hollow offers a tranquil base from which to enjoy all of the area’s best hiking routes. We offer accommodation in 44 contemporary Garden Suites, all elegantly decorated in subtle hues of the surrounding forests and ocean. All offer air-conditioning, satellite television, Nespresso® coffee stations, mini-bar fridges and private patios with outdoor seating overlooking the gardens and the two sparkling swimming pools.

We would love to welcome you to Knysna Hollow. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch by contacting our team via email at or using our online booking platform to check rates and availability.


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