I have enjoyed the Kranshoek Hike for many years, ever since I first lived in Knysna. Now that I once again live in the area, I am rewriting this post as originally it only detailed the “alternate”, shorter route.
Getting there: on the N2 between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, turn off onto a dirt road at the Sasol Garage [-34.03735, 23.22606]. Pass the turnoff to Harkerville and continue until you reach the parking lot (about 5km).
GPS Coordinates: -34.07850, 23.22790
Distance: 9km (4km “alternative” route)
Difficulty: well marked, well maintained trail, steep descent and ascent, rocky scree sections
Permit: R24 available at the gate
At a glance
Alas, the (free) self-issue permits are no more, and you must pay at the gate. The good news is that this money is clearly being put to good use! Drive down the forestry road enjoying the deep cool forest — on my most recent outing I stopped to observe the largest baboon troop I have ever seen. Park your car when you reach the parking lot. Once the scene of many break-ins, there is now a smart new hut with a SANParks officer checking permits.
The route is laid out in an anti-clockwise direction. It is signposted and marked with painted white feet.
Head across the stream and follow the path through the indigenous trees. For a while you will be on the border of a pine plantation before turning into the indigenous forest and descending the valley via a steep but well maintained path which has wooden poles forming large stairs for much of the way.
Do not miss the short detour to the viewpoint [-34.08040, 23.22419] at the 1km mark; it looks across the kloof to the waterfall.
The steep trail levels out as it reaches the valley floor, and you will cross the stream a few times. I would not drink the water from the river due to human settlements upstream.
You will suddenly exit the shade of the tall trees and arrive on rocky beach in a small bay [-34.086333, 23.224445].
Facing the sea, turn left along the rocks. You will reach a path that is signposted as the “alternate” route; this is the escape route which will take you up the steep ascent to the Kranshoek Viewpoint [-34.085354, 23.227302], and from there walk back along the cliff top path.to your car in the nearby parking lot, enjoying the views of the valley and the two waterfalls.
The full route continues along the coastline, sometimes boulder-hopping along the water’s edge, sometimes climbing quite steeply up the very steep rock scree slopes. Soon you will reach a small bay with tiny dark lagoon separated from the sea by a boulder beach; this is the Crooks River. If you have been able to hold out this long, this would be the perfect lunch spot, or at least a tea break, as from here you will head up the steep slope.
At the top of the hill you will follow the trail back in the direction of your starting point as it winds along the top of the hill above the coastline. You will easily be able to see the trail you have just hiked below you.
Soon you will reach a gravel road and you will follow this until you arrive at the Kranshoek Viewpoint.
The Kranshoek Viewpoint is a beautiful lawned picnic site and you would do well to either park your car here and do the loop from here (or go and fetch it now if your car is at the main parking lot) if you have done your planning.
There are toilets on the road from the parking lot to the view-point.