It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s plenty of hiking to be found in Magoebaskloof. And, one of the most accessible trails in the area starts (and ends) in Haenertsburg Village.
Overall, the Louis Changuion trail falls into an average difficulty category, though there are a few spots where you may find yourself wondering about that. (In a good, though challenging way).
Where does the Louis Changuion Hiking Trail start?
There’s one main street in Haenertsburg – and if you can’t find it, you’re in the wrong place. In any case, the trail start begins on Rissik Street. Walk up the street towards the shops near the top and you’ll spot the hiking trail sign post.
You can take a photo of the map if you like, but the Louis Changuion Trail is well-marked, so you won’t need it to avoid getting lost.
And, it’s not important yet, but you’ll follow the yellow feet for the full 10-kilometre trail. The white feet cut that distance in half.
Your best bet for grabbing water bottles or hiking snacks are lower down on the street, before the start marker. Then, you’ll pass the Haenertsburg shops at this edge of town and continue straight.
What to expect on the Louis Changuion Hiking Trail
You’ll pass through a residential area, bordering on a forest. But, you’ll begin to feel the climb almost instantly.
And this is something you should know about the Louis Changuion Trail; the initial climb is tough on your legs if you’ve not been hiking recently. It’s quite a steep hill, but the path is wide and easy, as you can see.
And, although this bench seems like a good idea, you probably want to keep going – if you think you can be tempted into turning back. Don’t worry, though, it doesn’t last forever.
At the top of the first climb, you’ll find the Haenertsburg Cemetery. Its trees offer some respite from the sun. It’s also the last spot with a bin if you need to throw anything away.
I found the area tranquil – and probably would’ve enjoyed exploring if we hadn’t already gotten a late start on the day.
You’ll walk around the cemetery, alongside the forest, and across the hillside for some time.
It may feel as though you’re never going to get into the trees. (Just as it felt that the first climb on this trail was never going to end.)
But you will. You most certainly will. And, it’s quite dense when you do. That said, the trail is always wide enough and easy to spot, which can sometimes feel like a luxury.
Once you get into the forest, it’s worth paying attention to the birds. Among others, we spotted a Knysna Loerie on our walk; it was too skittish for photos.
Inside the forest, you’ll find a sign indicating wild bees. It’s a tiny patch – and they certainly didn’t attack us (or do anything more than hum), but it’s worth remembering your allergy meds, just in case.
Emerging from the forest, you’ll walk alongside a stream, and you may need to balance yourself on the planks on the ground to avoid the mud from sucking your shoes off.
Soon, you’ll find yourself at this lovely tree and picnic table.
There are a few things to note here. First, this is right around the 6-kilometre mark, so it’s a perfect spot for hiking snacks (and if you’re like me, a little congratulatory wine from a water bottle). Second, there are bees living on this tree. They’re not terribly pesky, but they’re there.
After a few more exposed hillsides, a little wander through another patch of forest, and you’ll come across a last-minute shortcut to the top of Haenertsburg.
We didn’t take it. And unless you’re exhausted or the weather has turned, I recommend staying on the path. It winds through a little more forest, with a delicious stream to cool your hands, feet, face, whatever.
From there, it’s really just a hop, skip and a jump back to the village. Taking this route at the end of the Louis Changuion hiking trail, also means you end really close to The Iron Crown Pub. And, don’t you deserve that Bloody Mary?
If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth it to check out this trail. Newbie hikers can tackle it, though the first climb and the distance may be a little tiring. Experienced hikers will get through it in no time, if that’s the aim. We took our time, enjoying the scenery and wildlife (birds and a single, small bok) along the way. And I don’t see why we wouldn’t do it all again.
What I love about the Louis Changuion Hiking Trail
Without a doubt, I loved walking through the forest on the Louis Changuion trail. Oops, did I say forest again? It really does look and feel like a jungle when you’re in it. Trees and vines go in every direction, and it’s wildly beautiful. This is scenery you won’t find everywhere, so enjoy it while you’re in Magoebaskloof.
Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that FroHG do an amazing job of maintaining the Louis Changuion Hiking Trail. It’s well signed, clear of debris and there are picnic tables and benches in the right spots. They’ve made it a pleasure to walk – and do so entirely on a donation basis. If you can, please spare a little cash to support their work for future hikers. You’ll find their details below.
What you need to know about the Louis Changuion Hiking Trail
The trail is open all day, every day. There’s no barrier to entrance.
That said, if hiking in full sun isn’t your thing, be sure to get an early start.
You can hike for free. But, the trail is maintained by Friends of the Haenertsburg Grasslands (FroHG) which gladly accept donations.
Donations can be made at:
- The Tin Roof
Both are easy to spot in Haenertsburg.
If you can afford it, please donate, perhaps according to the trail fees you’re accustomed to paying.
There are technically two trails:
- 5 kilometres (white footprints)
- 10 kilometres (yellow footprints)
You can also cut a kilometre or so off the longer hike by taking the shortcut to the top of Haenertsburg. The sign is easy to spot as you near the end of your walk.
You won’t find any toilets or water fountains along the walk. Make use of facilities in Haenertsburg before beginning your hike – and bring water with you.
There are, however, a few picnic spots. Of course, you can stop anywhere you choose for trail snacks.
Finally, and this is important, there aren’t any bins along the route. Plan to carry your waste with you to the end. I feel like I don’t need to tell you not to litter, but it seems like there are plenty of people who need a reminder that plastic bottles don’t decompose nicely – and are hideous for other hikers to look at.