Salt River estuary
Please note: due to rock falls on the coastal section of the hike (July 2015), it is recommended to avoid this dangerous section altogether by hiking up the hill, along the ridge and down to the Salt River, and returning by the same route. This is still the situation in March 2016.

The Salt River Mouth Trail is used for the African Otter Trail Run (in an anti-clockwise direction) as a prologue to the main race. Having previously run the route, we recently walked it, in reverse, on a sunny winter’s day.

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: -33.984979, 23.547710
Distance: 3.7km
Difficulty: easy to follow trail, tricky coastal section

This is a gorgeous, short walk taking in beautiful views of Nature’s Valley: the dunes and coastal vegetation, the Salt River Estuary, rocky Garden Route coastline and beautiful sandy beach. It’s worth checking the tide table to avoid getting your feet wet in the estuary — we checked with the very friendly and knowledgeable lady at the Nature’s Valley Trading Store.

You can do it in either direction, however, doing it in a clockwise direction means you get to the damaged tricky coastal section of the trail with a kilometre or two – if you are uncertain you can do the inland section of the trail as a there-and-back.

At high tide the waves could be uncomfortable close on the coastal section and the beach at the river mouth may be submerged at the one side meaning wet feet!

Walk down the boardwalk to the beach and turn right. About 100m along, head up the beach to the sign announcing the trail which heads up the hill — you will come down this way later.

Continue along the beach until the sand ends and you are along the rocky shoreline. Sections of the rock are tricky, and soon you will come to a section that has been damaged by a landslide. It is passable but only in dry weather and with great care.

The trail then heads up over the hill just before you reach the mouth itself. It then drops steeply down to the sandy curved beach of the bay at the river mouth. The water is normally very calm. Head around the shore toward the river mouth until you find the trail going up the hill into the bush. This slowly climbs until it reaches the ridge-line, heading all the while back towards Nature’s Valley.

Finally, the trail will head down the hill to the beach where you saw the sign as you set out earlier.

You stand a good chance of seeing small buck along the trail.

By David

Outdoor adventure enthusiast living on the Garden Route.

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