15 best hikes in Johannesburg (and Pretoria) - a local's guide

Looking for the best hikes in Johannesburg and Pretoria by a local? Read on...

Hike: a long walk especially for pleasure or exercise. (Merriam-Webster)

I never really bothered much with hiking in Johannesburg until we were locked down in our own province. Then I started looking for parks and nature reserves in Johannesburg and was thrilled to discover that there were many green lungs in the city - which meant many hiking trails near me. I guess that this shouldn’t be a surprise as Johannesburg does lay claim to one of the largest man-made forests in the world. Now, we try to visit a new place to hike in almost every weekend.

Melville Koppies Nature Reserve

View from the top

It’s great exercise, it doesn’t cost much, it’s guaranteed to get your heart rate up and you don't need a passport to do it. Just remember to wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen, and take enough water with to stay hydrated.

Here are our favourite hiking trails in Johannesburg and Pretoria (that we’ve done thus far) as well as some nature walks. Most of these also have easy trails that are suitable for younger children, older people and those like me who aren't fit enough for gruelling hikes. I will update the list as we go along.

15 best hikes in Johannesburg (and Pretoria)

1. Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve

“Remember to turn everything off once a week, including your brain and walk somewhere quiet” Anonymous .

best hikes in Johannesburg

Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve

Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve is the largest nature reserve in Johannesburg. It also has a historical background. Stone-age artifacts have been found here indicating that the reserve was used as a hunting area. Other settlements in the reserve date back to the 1400s.

There are several hiking trails, with different difficulty levels, that lead one into the surrounding hills. They include the Dassie Trail (green) which runs from the Mondeor entrance partly along the river, while the Sunbird Trail (red) will give you more of an uphill workout, taking you to the Lookout point along the way. The reserve also has wildlife. We saw a few zebras, wildebeest, springboks, several dassies and yellow mongooses during our hikes there.

Entrance fees – Free

Dogs allowed - No

2. Melville Koppies Nature Reserve (Central)

"The human spirit needs places where nature has not been re-arranged by the hand of man." Unknown

best hikes in johannesburg

Melville Koppies

Melville Koppies is a nature reserve and city heritage site in Johannesburg. The East and West sections are open to everyone and dogs are allowed too. The Central section is kept locked because of its archeological sites and unique indigenous vegetation except on Sunday mornings (between 08:00 and 11:30) when open days are currently held. Dogs are not allowed though.

The reserve is a reminder of what the city was like before gold was discovered in 1886 and its geology dates back three billion years. Stone tools were found here which show that Early Stone Age man stayed here around 500 000 years ago. There is an Iron age furnace too. The surrounding landscape changes constantly and the views of the city from the various viewpoints at the top are amazing.

Pre-booking is essential because numbers are limited. To book, email Wendy on wendavid@mweb.co.za

Entrance fees: R80 for adults , R40 for scholars

Dogs allowed - No

3. Modderfontein Reserve

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." Albert Einstein.

Modderfontein Nature Reserve

Modderfontein Nature Reserve

This is a peaceful reserve on the outskirts of Edenvale in the East Rand. The hiking is relatively flat. There are 6 hiking trails. The longest one is 4 km.  Mountain biking trails are also available. The reserve has natural springs, dams, grassland and hills, which you will pass through on your hike. It is also home to a number of animals like antelopes and jackals. If you have older people with you, they can relax on the benches at the waterside without having to hike.

Entrance fees: R30 per adult and R15 per child

Dogs allowed - No

4. Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge

"I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees." Henry David Thoreau.

best hikes in Johannesburg

Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge

This is one of the most scenic hikes in Johannesburg. The hiking trails take you around a beautiful lake and culminate in an Insta-worthy "waterfall".  We did the 10km trail. It is mostly easy except for one very narrow pathway around the edge of a hill where one could easily slip and tumble down. Once you’re done hiking, you can relax in the gardens or on the artificial beach, or even go on a leisurely boat ride. You may encounter wildlife on the trail. We saw impalas, springboks and wildebeest.  There are cycling trails here too.

Entrance fees – R70 per person

Dogs allowed - No

5. Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order." John Burroughs

Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden

Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden

One of South Africa’s ten National Botanical Gardens, the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens is a stunning place to get back to nature. And if you're looking for hiking trails with waterfalls in Johannesburg, then this is the most beautiful one, in my opinion.

Spanning almost 300 hectares, the gardens have over 600 plant species, 220 bird species and some small mammals.  Nesting near the waterfall is a breeding pair of Verreaux’s Eagles. There are several walking trails winding through the gardens and a 3.5 km long hike. Starting next to the waterfall, it will take you to the summit of the waterfall and  around the reserve. Be warned though, it involves some steep ascents.

Entrance fees: Adults - R80 and children -R25

Dogs allowed - No

6. Kloofendal Nature Reserve

"Not all classrooms have four walls."

Kloofendal Nature Reserve

Kloofendal Nature Reserve

Kloofendal Nature Reserve is a 110-hectare municipal reserve in Roodepoort, on the West Rand, and a historic site. The first payable gold on the Witwatersrand was found and mined in a reef which is inside the Reserve, and a national monument. Near the entrance, you will find a stamp mill which was used to crush gold-bearing rock. Guided nature walks are offered with a wide range of topics, supported by a natural history museum.

The reserve has a dam, bird hide, and a network of about 15km of trails set apart from one another by the varied terrain, where you can hike on your own. We did the longest trail which was 4.8km according to our phones. It was strenuous at times but the views and workout were rewarding.

Entrance Fees: Free

Dogs allowed - No

7.  Kings Kloof Trails

"I escape into the great outdoors; where freedom’s soul forever roars." Angie Weiland-Crosby

Kings Kloof Trails

Kings Kloof Trails

Kings Kloof is situated on the Laurentia Farm in the Krugersdorp / Muldersdrift area, quite close to Cradlestone Mall. It’s a scenic area with hiking, mountain biking and trail running routes. The well-marked trails range from 6 km to 27 km, and from very easy to very technical. The longer trails offer higher elevation by going up the rocky outcrops where you can get great views. Trails can be combined too and there are “Escape routes” marked in purple on most of them.

As this is a farm, you will walk through areas where there are huge herds of cows grazing. Although you get very close to them – within touching distance – they are quite used to people and not aggressive. You will also go through wooded valleys and forests, across rivers and past a dam. The waterfalls are a highlight here, and apart from the green route, the other trails all go past them.

We did the 12 km Blue Route. It was mostly flat with gentle inclines except near the waterfalls. Along the way, we passed a shedded snake skin although we didn’t see any actual snakes. Some areas of the trails do go in circles, although our biggest issue was with the river and stream crossings, which didn’t feel very safe from a grid perspective (not in terms of security). Other than that, we enjoyed the hike.

Entrance Fee: R40 for adults , R20 for scholars, Grade R and under are free.

Open on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.

Dogs allowed - No

8. Hennops Hiking Trails

"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt." John Muir

Best hikes in Johannesburg

Hennops Hiking Trail Suspension bridge

Hennops Hiking Trails in Pretoria is one of the most popular hiking trails in Gauteng. It consists of an expansive nature reserve with several hiking, mountain biking and off-roading trails, as well as a historical background. The Hennops river flows through a valley flanked by mountain ranges and the hiking trails start by crossing a meandering river by a swing bridge or an old-fashioned cable car.

Entrance fees: R100 -adults R50 - scholars

Dogs allowed - No

9. Adventure Zone Cullinan

"The mountains whisper for me to wander; my soul hikes to the call." Angie Weiland-Crosby

Gorgeglide Cullinan

Adventure Zone Cullinan

13 km away from the quaint town of Cullinan, you will find Muningi Gorge, a stunning natural gorge offering a myriad of adventure opportunities which can be booked through Adventure Zone Cullinan. There are 3 hiking trails here: 2 km, 4.5 km and 8 km, which all begin by crossing the riverbed.

We did the latter and it was one of the most challenging hikes in Gauteng we’ve done so far, although the beautiful scenery was sufficiently rewarding. We walked through the gorge for a while crisscrossing the river over the rocks before climbing up a steep pass where we had to clamber up rocks and hoist ourselves over boulders. It was daunting at first, but we did it and left feeling exhilarated that we’d conquered a new level of hiking.

Adventure Zone Cullinan also offers zip-lining, abseiling, clay pigeon shooting, target and tag archery, fire-making, drumming and Amazing Race experiences.

Hiking fees: R100

Dogs allowed - No

10. Adventure Zone Voortrekker Monument

"I escape into the great outdoors; where freedom’s soul forever roars." Angie Weiland-Crosby

Adventure Zone Voortrekker Monument

Voortrekker Monument Nature Reserve

The Voortrekker Monument is surrounded by a 340 ha nature reserve, which is home to zebras and other species of plains game. Adventure Zone offers three hiking trails which are 3km, 5km and 8km long, although the longest route is only available as a guided hike on certain days. We did the 5 km trail which begins on the hill where the Voortrekker Monument stands then descends to the grasslands below before heading up again to Fort Schanskop from where there are panoramic views of Pretoria. You can also do archery, quad-biking, fire-making, drumming and Amazing Race experiences here.

Hiking fees: R80

Dogs allowed - No

11. Pretoria Botanical Gardens

“You’re off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.” Dr Seuss

Best hikes in Johannesburg

Pretoria Botanical Gardens

This 76 hectare urban oasis in Pretoria is another one of South Africa's ten National Botanical Gardens. It is divided into two sections by a 50 metre high quartzite outcrop, one facing south and the other north. The mostly indigenous gardens include a cycad garden, medicinal garden, useful plants garden, wetlands and a small waterfall. It is also popular with birding enthusiasts and over 220 bird species have been seen here. You can walk in the level gardens or on the hills if you want more of a workout.

Entrance fees: Adults – R40 , Scholars – R15

Dogs allowed - No

12. The Wilds

"If we save our wild places, we will ultimately save ourselves." Steve Irwin

Exploring Johannesburg attractions

The Wilds

The Wilds is a beautiful 16 ha nature reserve between Killarney and Houghton dotted with water features, winding stone paths, pretty benches and colourful laser-cut wildlife structures by artist James Delaney.  A pedestrian bridge over Houghton Drive connects the two sides of The Wilds and there are great views of Joburg from the highest points of the reserve.

Entrance fees: Free

Dogs allowed - Yes

13. Groenkloof Nature Reserve

"All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking." Friedrich Nietzsche

Groenkloof Nature Reserve

Groenkloof Nature Reserve

The oldest nature reserve in Africa, Groenkloof Nature Reserve was proclaimed as a game sanctuary by former president Paul Kruger in 1895. Activities in the reserve include hiking, mountain-biking, horse riding, 4x4 trails and game drives. It is also a popular picnic venue. The reserve is home to several species of game and a large variety of bird life. There are 3 trails: yellow (10.5 km ), red (5 km) and white (3.7 km). We did the yellow trail. The first and last 2 km consisted mostly of steep rocky inclines while the rest of the terrain was mainly flat. We saw zebras and ostriches along the way.

Entrance fees: R49 for hiking

Dogs allowed - No

14. Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Unknown

Suikerbosrand nature reserve

Suikerbosrand nature reserve

Suikerbosrand is a nature reserve in the Heidelberg area. There are 2 main hiking trails, the 4 km Cheetah trail and the longer Bokmakerie trail, which splits after a while into 10km and 11.5 km trails. We did the 10 km Bokmakerie trail. It's a strenuous trail which goes up and down steep hills, and will definitely give you a good workout.

The reserve is home to several species of wildlife and birdlife. There is a 66 km self-drive route which takes about 2-3 hours to complete. We didn't have time to do it but we saw some zebras and antelopes on the way out.

On another note, the reserve has some interesting history including some stone structures from a 15 th century Tswana settlement and one of the oldest houses in Gauteng - which was built around 1850! These form part of the museum complex.

Entrance Fees: R45 pp + R35 per car

Dogs allowed: No

15. Moreleta Kloof Nature Reserve

“Hiking is the answer.  Who cares what the question is.”

Moreleta Kloof Nature Reserve

Moreleta Kloof Nature Reserve is a beautiful nature reserve in Pretoria with 3 trails ranging from 1.5 to 3.6 km that take you along rocky paths carved out of the cliff through seemingly enchanted woods, across bridges and streams. The reserve has game including springbok, blesbok, impala and zebra as well as an abundance of bird life and a bird hide from where you can see many of them.

Entrance Fees: Free

Dogs allowed: No

Nature Walks in Johannesburg

If you're looking for an easier, more relaxing walk in nature, here are the most popular nature walks and picnic areas in Johannesburg.

1. Zoo Lake

"Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Things to do in Johannesburg

ZZoo Lake

This popular picnic and recreation area near the Johannesburg Zoo was first opened to the public in 1908. It surrounds a manmade lake where you can row boats and feed the ducks. The walk around the lake is gentle and pleasant. The lawns are great for picnics and there are play areas for children.

Interesting fact – The Johannesburg Zoo and Zoo Lake were donated to the city in 1904 with the stipulation that the park should be “a Park for the People and remain open to people of all races. Even though this was before apartheid, different races in South Africa were living separate lives at the time.

Entrance fees: Free

Dogs allowed - No

2. Johannesburg Botanical Gardens

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” Gary Snyder

best hikes in Johannesburg

Johannesburg Botanical Gardens

Like Zoo Lake, this 81 hectare botanical garden is a lovely place for nature walks. Established in 1969 it overlooks the 7,5-hectare Emmarentia Dam. The grassy open spaces are scattered with trees and there are some special gardens like the Shakespeare Garden and the Rose Garden, although these were dry when we visited in winter. The gardens are popular with picnickers, joggers, canoeists and dog walkers.

Entrance fees: Free

Dogs allowed - Yes

Hiking trails with waterfalls in Johannesburg and Pretoria

  • Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
  • Kings Kloof
  • Cradle Moon Lakeside Lodge
  • Pretoria Botanical Gardens

Hiking Essentials (for day hikes)

  1. Good hiking shoes
    Good hiking shoes are of critical importance when hiking because of the unpredictability of outdoor trails. They provide necessary support, grip, and protection against a variety of terrains, from smooth slopes to rugged landscapes, and protect your feet from sharp objects, water, and potentially harmful creatures, as well as blisters, injuries and other discomforts.  I alternate between Adidas and Hi-Tec trail shoes and am happy with both.
  2. Appropriate Clothing
    Dress in layers to adapt to changing weather and temperatures. Don't forget a waterproof jacket in case of rain and a hat for sun protection.
  3. A fitness tracker
    A fitness tracker is invaluable when hiking, because it monitors vital statistics like heart rate, steps, distance covered, and calories burned, allowing hikers to better understand their physical exertion and performance. Seeing progress in real time can boost motivation and help set achievable fitness goals, making every hiking trip not just an adventure, but a measurable step towards improved health. My brand of choice has always been Fitbit, and I've recently started using a Fitbit Inspire 3.
  4. Food and Water
    Bring enough for the duration of your hike and extra in case you're out longer than anticipated.

See more hiking essentials.

What are your favourite nature walks and hikes in Johannesburg and surrounds ? Where should we go next?

Follow me on Instagram for more beautiful places to visit in Johannesburg.

best hikes in johannesburg and pretoria

List of dog-friendly hikes in Johannesburg , Pretoria and surrounds

  1. Africaland (Hartbeespoort )
  2. Ark Animal Centre (Fourways)
  3. Avianto (Muldersdrift)
  4. Berg en Rivier Country Estate (Bronkhorstspruit)
  5. Bishop Bird Park (Centurion)
  6. B'sorah Camp (Hartbeespoort )
  7. Buffelsdrift Trail Park (Pretoria)
  8. Danielsrust Game Farm (Krugersdorp)
  9. Delta Park (Randburg)
  10. De Wildt Adventure Trails (Hartbeespoort )
  11. Faerie Glen Nature Reserve (Pretoria) (Permit required)
  12. Golden Harvest Park (Randburg)
  13. Ground The Venue (Muldersdrift)
  14. Hazeldean Valley Trails (Pretoria)
  15. Hedianga Farm (Pretoria)
  16. Hobby Park (Kugersdorp)
  17. Hornbill Lodge (Magaliesburg)
  18. Huddle Park (Linksfield)
  19. Kloof Rus Dog Park (Krugersdorp)
  20. Leeuwenkloof (Cradle of Humankind)
  21. Made on Earth Hiking Trails (Centurion)
  22. Majakaneng Hiking Trails (Modderspruit)
  23. Monte de Dios (Pretoria)
  24. Piesangkloof Trails (Hartbeespoort)
  25. Rietvlei Zoo Farm (Alberton)
  26. River Paradise (Cullinan)
  27. Rosemary Hill (Pretoria)
  28. Sable Ranch (Magaliesburg)
  29. Sterkfontein Heritage Lodge (Krugersdorp)
  30. Stone Hill (Magaliesburg)
  31. The Big Red Barn (Irene)
  32. Tierpoort Adventure Farm (Pretoria)
  33. Tuin Van Eden (Heidelberg)
  34. Vergenoeg (Hartbeespoort)
  35. Walkhaven Dog Park (Muldersdrift)
  36. The Wilds Nature Reserve (Houghton/Killarney)
  37. Wolwespruit Mountain Bike and Trails Park (Pretoria)

List of pram-friendly hikes in Johannesburg , Pretoria and surrounds

Off-road prams or joggers are recommended. Some of the venues require bookings, so  it's a good idea to contact the venue first before going through.

  1. B'sorah Camp (Hartbeespoort )
  2. Buffelsdrift Trail Park (Pretoria)
  3. Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge - some trails (Muldersdrift)
  4. Danielsrust Game Farm (Krugersdorp)
  5. Ground The Venue (Muldersdrift)
  6. Hazeldean Valley Trails (Pretoria)
  7. Huddle Park (Linksfield)
  8. Hunters Rest (Rustenburg)
  9. Koedoeslaagte Trail Park (Parys)
  10. Leeuwenkloof (Cradle of Humankind)
  11. Leopard Lodge (Hartbeespoort)
  12. Modderfontein (East Rand)
  13. Moreleta Kloof (Pretoria)
  14. Northern Farm (Diepsloot)
  15. Rosemary Hill Toddler Trail (Pretoria)
  16. Saamrus Guest Farm (1 km trail)
  17. Sable Ranch (Magaliesburg)
  18. The Big Red Barn (Irene)

Do you have any more pet-friendly hikes or pram-friendly-hikes to add to these lists?

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27 comments on “15 best hikes in Johannesburg (and Pretoria) - a local's guide”

  1. Out of the 15 trails mentioned we've already gone to 6 of them. Kliprivierberg Nature Reserve is our favorite one because it's close to home. Enjoyed all the trails we did thus far and we make it a point to go every weekend.

    1. Thanks Lora. Kliprivierberg Nature Reserve is one of our favourites too. Are there any other trails I haven't mentioned that you would recommend?

  2. Majakaneng Hiking Trail is very special. Totally beautiful and run by the community with really wonderful guides. A tough 10km hike or shorter venture into the kloof.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. I'd love to do it at some stage. However, in this post, I have focused on hikes in Gauteng.

  3. Thanks for sharing this Sara. We did a hike in Groenkloof Nature Reserve a few months ago. There are several hikes with different levels and picnic and play sites at the entrance. We loved it.

  4. Best and challenging klipkraal and suikerboors nature reserve and tuin van Eden East of Johannesburg. Groenkloof nature reserve in Pretoria

  5. Wow there are some nice places around- that zoo lake looks like it could be in the uk! Also I love how everyone is discovering places on their own backyard 🙂

    1. Haha, you're right Sam. Zoo Lake does look like it could be in the UK 🙂 And it's great to discover new places in your own backyard.

    1. Not many people out of South Africa know that Johannesburg has one of the biggest man-made forests in the world so we're lucky to have so many green spaces.

  6. Wow! That's awesome Sara. Thanks for sharing. These are hidden jewels and so close by. Time to pull out our hiking boots and shed those extra kilos put on during lockdown!

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