I had heard so much about the Harkerville Red Route, so on the morning of the last day of 2013 I headed out to the Forest from Knysna to see if it would live up to it’s legendary reputation.
Where: Garden of Eden on the N2 between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay
Difficulty: it’s called the Red Route for a reason! Plenty of roots and trees close on either side of narrow single-track make for costly mistakes.
Cost: R35 permit from SANParks
I arrived before the SANParks office at the Garden of Eden Roots had opened. I parked in one of the parking bays in the service road next to the N2. To get to the start of the trail you cross the N2 and head in the direction of Plett for less than 100m to the dirt road that heads up the hill. There is a parking lot here which was deserted when I arrived — and packed when I left.
Head on up the dirt road, you will soon come across the colour-coded signs pointing you up the cool green single track that snakes off into the forest.
The seemingly endless single-track is criss-crossed with roots, and more roots. In fact the route is almost entirely on single track snaking silently through dense forest.
The trail is well constructed and maintained, including concrete strips along the cliff tops presumably to avoid erosion of the track in this sensitive area.
There are numerous ascents and descents on slopes that have logs cut into them to from steps. There are also one or two wooden bridges to take you over streams — these could be quite slippery even in fair weather — in fact the last one was covered with chicken-wire for this very reason.