Hiking in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Free State
Did you know?
Golden Gate Highlands National Park is famous for its spectacular sandstone formations and sweeping grasslands.
Discover one of South Africa's most dramatically beautiful national parks when embarking on a hiking trail in Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
Some take only an hour, others longer, and there’s an overnight trail for the fit and adventurous. But whichever you choose, the hiking trails of Golden Gate Highlands National Park are fun, gloriously scenic and very accessible.
Most of the shorter hikes are unguided, so off you go on your own, following markers and keeping to the paths.
If you’re not too steady on your pins, or have young children, then the one-hour Mushroom Rock Hike, which starts at the Glen Reenen Rest Camp, will give you a taste of the mountains without overtaxing you.
The 120m-high Brandwag Rock Hike is also a fairly easy one-hour hike, but offers a whiff of adventure because at one stage there's a chain to help you up a steep ascent. The commanding views from the summit are well worth the climb.
If you're feeling fit, then tackle the challenging Wodehouse Hike, which takes approximately four hours.
You'll walk with a guide on the four-hour Cathedral Cave Hike, which is also graded as low difficulty, whereas the one-hour Eco-Ravine Hike, graded medium difficulty, will test your mettle a bit more.
If you have time, then try the 28km Ribbok Overnight Trail where you'll encounter some of the park's highest peaks, plus lots of game including black wildebeest, springbok and zebra. Keep your eyes open for the endangered bearded vulture as well as Verreaux's (black) eagles.
Come as a day visitor, or stay overnight at Glen Reenen Rest Camp, in a campsite or cosy rondavel, or the Golden Gate Hotel, encircled by sandstone hills and looking as if it has come direct from the Swiss Alps.
All the hikes start and end either at the rest camp or at the hotel.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Tel: +27 (0)58 255 1000
South African National Parks Central Reservations
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111
How to get here
Take the R712 east from Clarens in the Eastern Free State and follow the signs to Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
Best time to visit
Any time is good, but expect heavy thundershowers in summer and very cold nights in winter.
Around the area
Visit the arty village of Clarens.
What to pack
Sturdy walking shoes or boots, sunscreen, hat and water bottle. For the Ribbok Overnight Trail bring your own cooking equipment, food, utensils and sleeping bag.
Where to stay
Glen Reenen’s Rest Camp and the Golden Gate Hotel are both located in the park.
Arts and crafts, handmade furniture, pottery and orginal art from the nearby village of Clarens.