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Hiking at Golden Gate

Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Mushroom Rock at Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Golden Gate under snow
Snow on Brandwag Buttress at Golden Gate

Golden Gate Highlands National Park invites you to step off the beaten path, to seek the stories etched in stone, and to embrace the unexpected. Here, the golden glow isn’t just sunlight—it’s the magic of discovery. Here are some of the hiking trails and scenic drives:

  1. Brandwag Buttress Trail:

    • Difficulty: Moderate

    • Length: Approximately 2.7km (1.7 miles)  - estimated time: 1 hour and 11 minutes)

    • Highlights: The Brandwag Buttress, also known as the “Sentinel,” offers golden sunrise and sunset views. As the sun bathes the sandstone cliffs, the landscape transforms into a mesmerizing palette of colors. The trail rewards hikers with panoramic vistas that justify the park’s name—“Golden Gate.”

  2. Mushroom Rock Trail:

    • Difficulty: Short and sweet

    • Length: About 30 minutes (one-way)

    • Description: The Mushroom Rock Trail leads to an intriguing rock formation resembling—you guessed it—a mushroom! As you wander through the grassy plains, keep an eye out for this whimsical geological wonder.

  3. Echo Ravine Trail:

    • Difficulty: Moderate

    • Length: Approximately 1.9km (1.2 miles) - estimated time: 56 minutes

    • Scenic Delights: Freshwater streams cascade down the rock faces, creating a symphony of sound. The green hills and mountains, cloaked in vegetation, provide an unforgettable backdrop.

  4. Wodehouse Peak Trail:

    • Difficulty: Hard

    • Length: A challenging 9km (5.6-mile) loop - approximately 6 hours

    • Peak Experience: Ascend to Wodehouse Peak, where the world transforms. The Drakensberg Mountains reveal themselves across the valley, and the air feels crisper. Binoculars are handy for spotting distant game.

  5. Boskloof Trail:

    • Difficulty: Moderate

    • Length: Around 1 hour (one-way)

    • Nature’s Bounty: Boskloof Trail winds through diverse environments, from grasslands to rocky outcrops. Keep an eye out for wildlife—wildebeests, blesboks, duikers, and springboks call this area home.

  6. Holkrans Trail:

    • Difficulty: Moderate

    • Length: Approximately 1 hour (one-way)

    • Unique Features: Holkrans Trail leads to a cliff face adorned with ancient San rock paintings. These artistic expressions provide glimpses into the lives of the indigenous people who once roamed these lands.

Driving Routes: Oribi Loop and Blesbok Loop

  1. Oribi Loop:

    • Description: This one-way driving route takes you through the heart of Golden Gate. Marvel at the changing landscapes—rolling hills, sandstone formations, and grassy plains. Keep your camera ready; photo opportunities abound.

  2. Blesbok Loop:

    • Scenic Drive: The Blesbok Loop offers a leisurely drive with frequent stops. Look out for blesboks grazing in the grasslands. The loop showcases the park’s natural diversity.


Map Reference:

For a visual guide, refer to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park map below (Page 3) to trace the trails, loops, and viewpoints.

Remember to pack water, sturdy shoes, and your sense of wonder. Golden Gate Highlands National Park invites you to explore its hidden treasures—one step at a time.


For more information and park details, visit the official Golden Gate Highlands National Park website.

Golden Gate hiking map

Golden Gate hiking map

The hidden stories of Golden Gate

The Sun’s Golden Kiss:
Beyond the well-trodden trails lies a secret—the origin of the park’s name. In 1875, farmer J.N.R. van Reenen and his wife paused here during their journey to their new farm. As the sun dipped below the horizon, its rays bathed the sandstone cliffs in a golden hue. Van Reenen aptly named this place “Golden Gate.” The cliffs, like ancient sentinels, guard tales of sun-kissed evenings and timeless beauty.

San Artistry Unveiled:
While the park’s sandstone cliffs steal the spotlight, its hidden galleries lie within. The numerous caves and shelters reveal San rock paintings, a testament to the ancient Bushmen who once sought refuge here. These intricate artworks depict their lives, beliefs, and connection to the land. As you explore, imagine the flicker of torchlight illuminating these walls, telling stories across millennia.
Floral Treasures:
Beyond the ochre cliffs, the park harbors a floral wonderland. Among the rugged terrain, rare and indigenous flowers thrive. Look closely, and you’ll find the delicate Arum Lily, fiery Red-Hot Pokers, and vibrant Watsonias. These blooms defy the harsh environment, adding splashes of color to the golden canvas.
Snowfall Surprise:
While summer heat shimmers across the landscape, winter brings an unexpected twist. Golden Gate occasionally dons a white cloak—snow. Yes, snowflakes dance among the cliffs, transforming the sun-kissed rocks into a frosty wonderland. Few expect snow in this part of Africa, but Golden Gate keeps its secrets well.
Dinosaur Whispers:
Beneath the sun-soaked surface, paleontological treasures lie hidden. Fossils, including dinosaur eggs and skeletons, have been unearthed here. Imagine the ancient giants roaming these hills, leaving their mark in the very rocks we admire today. The echoes of their footsteps resonate across time.
Beyond Wildlife:
While wildlife exists, Golden Gate’s allure transcends mere fauna. It’s a place where the wind whispers forgotten tales, where the sun paints masterpieces on stone, and where every step reveals layers of history. The park’s beauty isn’t just in its creatures; it’s etched into the very fabric of its cliffs.

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