Hennops River Hiking Trail
Too often the thought of heading out for a hike is foiled by the dullest practicalities of life. Work. Admin. Sleep. City living lulls us into complacency as we become experts of our suburbs: that place that makes the delicious duck salad, the bar that makes an actual Margarita and the breakfast spot open from 7am. Hiking seems to us a faraway endeavour, which takes time to plan and energy to execute. Imagine our surprise then to find a great number of hikes within a 100 km radius, and with that, a far smaller excuse margin than we had previously allowed ourselves.
Hennops River offers three trails just 45 minutes from Johannesburg. With no pre-booking necessary over weekends and an on-the-spot entrance fee, it really does put all our excuses to shame. The Krokodilberg route is just over 11 km, with the shorter Zebra and Dassie routes available for the moderate to less keen. We arrive later than we would have liked and stand prepping in the parking lot with a group of friends, applying handfuls of sun cream to already sweaty skin.
The large barrel of hiking sticks at the entrance gate seems to imply that we will be in dire peril without one, so the less brave amongst us snatch up hand-carved sticks and head to the river start. Making our way along the riverbank in the shade of the trees, our weekend catch-up is interrupted by the appearance of a rather dusty black and white Jack Russell. He seems a spirited little fella, hellbent on joining us on our hike, despite us pleading with him to turn around and head back home. A friend warned us of the farm’s resident Jack Russell, saying he once had had to carry him part way home, not able to bring himself to leave the dog on the trail for fear that something bad would happen to it. We hope the little fella’s fitness has improved since then.
Jack (the name you give a Russell with no name) keeps up surprisingly well in the summer heat, following us over rocky outcrops and back down the other side to a makeshift wooden suspension bridge and river crossing. As we stand looking on with healthy pessimism, Jack, it seems, is more than happy to take the lead. We follow him gingerly over the bridge and up the opposite hillside.
Jack introduces himself to each of us in turn, careful not to pick a favourite. He trots alongside one of us for a while and then moves on to the next. One human step equals quite a few in Jack Russell.
The view from the top of the hill is beautiful, a landscape dotted with aloes and thorn trees in sharp contrast to the massive towers of the Pelindaba nuclear power station. Having suspended most conversation on the uphill, the downhill brings much talk of favourite podcasts, the Ugandan space programme and dinosaur extinction. The latter seems a fitting topic amongst the prehistoric-looking aloe, with the nuclear plant on the horizon.
Down along the flats, in a large loop and back to the river again, we walk on easier terrain, and Jack seems at no loss for the energy to make it home. All the snacks he has feasted on over our lunch break seem to have stood him in good stead. He feels like part of the group now, one of the gang, and by the time we come to the cable slide and cross the river for the last time, we realise we were going to be a little sad to see him scamper off back home. He has made the hike more fun, forcing us to stop and look where we would have walked on.
It’s the age-old offering of a new perspective, of seeing the world as another would, of focusing on some need external to your own and walking with a friend who has walked this way many times before. A friend who doesn’t get the least bit concerned when the sun seems too hot and too directly above you or the path disappears for a while. Some things are easier when done for someone else than for yourself, and the spirit of the path is just lighter in the presence of an #adventuredog.
This post is dedicated to all those fearless mongrels out there that follow their owners faithfully into the forest, the desert, the canyon and beyond.
Check out: Arthur the #adventuredog
Trail Head Location (WGS84)
S25º 47’ 53.4” E27º 59’ 11.4”
Other Trails At Destination
Krokodilberg Trail – 11,3km
Zebra Trail – 6,15km
Dassie Trail – 3km
How To Book
+27 82 825 9205
Total Distance : 11,3km
Trail Type : Circular
Trail Markings : Good
Starting Altitude : 1300
Summit Altitude : 1483
Difficulty Rating : 5 / 10
Dustbins : N
Water points : N
Toilets : N
Braai Facilities: Y