The Garden Route is often perceived as being synonymous with forest and coastal thicket, but once you move up the slopes of the Outeniqua Mountains you emerge into the vivid landscape of the Fynbos with it’s diversity of floral display.
From the coastal towns of Wilderness and Sedgefield the northern skyline is broken by the towering Craddock, George and Tierkop peaks. While Tierkop is not particularly high, it is a respectable 767m above sea.
Hiking to the base of Tierkop and then circumnavigating the mountain in an anti-clockwise direction to the overnight hut and then continuing down to George Dam and crossing over at Pepsi Pools on the way back to your starting point is a simple way to do this walk.
Start at the Saasveld Campus east of the town of George and head up a management road towards Tierkop. After approximately 3km you pass through a gate, which is most times open, but on it is a sign notifying you that you are entering a World Heritage site, and indication of how special it is to be walking in the mountains.
At 3.9Km the management road takes a sharp left turn while a single track heads off straight to the right (east) of the mountain. Continue on this path which will open up to some spectacular views of the mountains and a blind valley before arriving at the overnight hut which is on the edge of the management track.
From the hut, join the track and walk to the left down the slope for 350m to a path that leads off to the right. Again, along this path are some spectacular views of the mountain range and adjacent valley. After 3.2Km the path reaches the walk of George Dam. Once over the dam wall, the path follows a contour path down the valley with pockets of Afromontane Forest in the narrow kloofs.
4.2Km after the dam wall there is a nondescript path that turns off the track to the left which heads down to the river which is crossed on a concrete abandoned causeway. Once across the river the track meets up with a management track which heads back to the starting point.
Special sights along the route.
The route passes through a World Heritage Site for Fynbos and is definitely appropriate. The Fynbos along the hike is diverse and varied with distinct altitudinal zones. Stands of Restios spp, Protea nerifolia, Protea cyneroidies and Mimetes spp punctuate a mosaic of Leucodendron spp and Erica spp. Between 500m and 650m there are stands of Leucospernum spp. There are also myriads of Sundews on the track and path edges.
The route is approximately 15km depending on where you start walking from on the Saasveld Campus and has an altitude gain of 595m which makes it a very manageable mountain walk.
Trail planning :
Weather in the mountains can change rapidly with clouds forming at 500m while lower altitudes are in sunny conditions so make sure to pack a protective shell and light fleece. Rather carry it and not need it than need it and not have it.
Water – there is a water tank at the overnight hut and a stream before the dam as well at Pepsi Pools, but all the river water is tainted with tannins which isn’t to everyone’s liking so carry sufficient water.
Managing authority : Cape Nature
Fees : Entrance is free
Guiding : Self guided or guided. For guiding contact Garden Route Trail.
Route Marking : Not present.
Start Location : GPS : -33.945228°, 22.522989°, What3Words : obeyed.wretchedly.resets
Fore guided walks on the Tierkop Trail and other routes in the Garden Route : Mark from Garden Route Trail