The Rugpad Circuit is in the Tsitsikamma Section of the Garden Route National Park and takes in the coastal section of the Salt River Mouth Trail in Nature’s Valley before heading deeper inland into the forest.
Getting there: from Plettenberg Bay on the N2, pass The Crags and take a right onto the R102. You will enter Nature’s Valley via the Groot River Pass. Drive through the valley to the Nature’s Valley Trading Store on the western side of the valley.
GPS Coordinates: -33.984933, 23.547686
Difficulty: tricky coastal section, at least one strenuous uphill
Having previously done the Salt River Mouth Trail a number of times, I was keen to try out one of the longer routes in the area.
The route is laid out clockwise, and it would be unwise to leave the coastal section to the end of the day in the event of any tidal problems at the river crossing. If you are concerned about the trickier coastal section, use the inland section of the Salt River Trail to reach the Salt River.
It is fairly easy to get to the Salt River Mouth, but it is not immediately obvious how to get across the river to continue with this trail. Walk around the water’s edge to the river, then head up the river bank until you see the sign on the opposite bank, at which stage you should also be able to see the trail coming down the hill on your right (the Nature’s Valley side). Cross the shallows and head right on the opposite bank to regain the trail.
I took a refreshing dip in the Salt River where the trail crosses it again in the forest.