The 10 Best Hikes in Johannesburg

Hikers standing on a ridge in the Magaliesberg Mountains, Gauteng

Instinctively RDH / Getty Images

South Africa’s largest city may not be as universally renowned for its scenery as Cape Town, but it still has plenty to offer the keen hiker. Instead of coastal paths and gorge climbs, Johannesburg specializes in nature trails that lead you past free-roaming game animals, as well as Highveld hikes through hilly grassland. Some of the best hiking destinations are green lungs located within the metro area (giving you the chance to combine nature and culture in the same day), while others require a road trip to nearby hotspots such as Hartbeestpoort Dam and the Magaliesberg Mountains. 

01 of 10

Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve

Black Wildebeest, Connochaetes gnou, herd with juveniles running in grassland at edge of bushveld, side on, slow shutter. Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, Mondeor, Johannesburg, South Africa

Gallo Images / Getty Images

129 Peggy Vera Rd, Kibler Park, Johannesburg South, 2091, South Africa
Phone +27 84 804 4073

Situated just 6 miles from central Johannesburg in the southern suburbs, Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve is the largest nature reserve in the Joburg metro area. It’s a popular destination for hikers, with 12 miles of interconnecting trails offering options for all fitness and experience levels. Of the 10 available routes, two of the most popular are the Dassie Trail (a strenuous hike to the top of the reserve’s highest point for impressive city views), and the Bloubos Trail, a flatter path that follows the course of the scenic Bloubos Spruit river. Along the way, keep an eye out for game, including zebra, red hartebeest, and black wildebeest.

Klipriviersberg is free to enter and remains open seven days a week, from sunrise to sunset. Park at the entrance on Peggy Vera Road to explore on your own, or enquire about guided walks for groups of 10 people or more.

02 of 10

Melville Koppies Nature Reserve

Looking towards the CBD (Central Business District), with the Melville Koppies nature reserve in the middle. Lines of Jacarandas visible too.

Sarah Agarwal / Flickr

4 Judith Rd, Emmarentia, Randburg, 2195, South Africa
Phone +27 11 482 4797

A Johannesburg City Heritage Site that preserves the last section of the city’s natural ridges (left intact after the mining activity of the 19th-century gold rush), Melville Koppies Nature Reserve is located less than 5 miles from the city center in Emmarentia. Its geology dates back some three billion years, while evidence of human history includes the remains of Iron Age kraals on the reserve’s northern slopes.

There are three sections to Melville Koppies. The public-access East and West sections are open daily, but associated with a concerning level of crime. Hikers are better off waiting for Sunday sessions in the access-controlled Central section, which is open to hikers for independent exploration or guided tours from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. every week. There are two trails (2.5 miles and 6.2 miles respectively); entrance costs 80 rand per adult. 

03 of 10

Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge

Plot 59 Beyers Naude Drive, Muldersdrift, 2024, South Africa
Phone +27 11 919 5000

Sheltered at the foot of Zwartkop Mountain within a protected nature conservancy, Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge is a popular day trip destination for Joburg hikers. It’s located roughly an hour’s drive northwest of the city center, on the way to the Cradle of Humankind (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Here, you will find more than 30 miles of cycling, running, and hiking trails. These include the Green, Blue, Yellow, and Red Trails—many of which afford stunning views of the reserve’s central lake and waterfall, and range in length from 5 to 8.3 miles. Game is prevalent: Look out for zebra, springbok, wildebeest, hippo, and, if you’re very lucky, endangered rhino. Entry to the reserve costs 50 rand per person, with an additional 20 rand fee for hiking. Other activities include game drives, fly fishing and boat cruises. 

04 of 10

Modderfontein Reserve

Modderfontein Nature Reserve

Caroljdp / Flickr

Arden Road, Off Ardeer Rd, Modderfontein, Lethabong, 1609, South Africa
Phone +27 81 351 1223

Roughly 19 miles northeast of Johannesburg's city center is Modderfontein Reserve. As the second-largest private park in Gauteng, it provides a beautiful pocket of wilderness amid the Johannesburg–Pretoria urban sprawl—a place where dams, grassland, hills, and sections of the Modderfontein Spruit river come together to create a sense of tranquility. There are six hiking trails to choose from, ranging from the 1.3-mile Guinea Fowl Trail to the 2.4-mile Dabchick Trail. None of them are particularly long or challenging, making this a great destination for families with young or elderly members. Many of the trails incorporate one of the reserve’s three dams, and offer a chance to spot small mammals such as steenbok, reedbuck, black-backed jackals, and Cape clawless otters. The reserve is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. 

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Kloofendal Nature Reserve

Veronica St, Kloofendal, Roodepoort, 1709, South Africa
Phone +27 11 712 6600

Also located northwest of the city center in the suburb of the same name, Kloofendal Nature Reserve features classic Highveld landscapes, defined by quartzite and shale hills. It’s a place of historic significance, as it's the home of Confidence Reef, where the first payable gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand in 1884. This is now marked by a monument. The reserve is also a haven for nature, with many different birds and a variety of small mammals—including reedbuck, duiker, and dassies—finding shelter here. Hikers can explore independently on one of four trails, ranging from the easy, 0.3-mile Wetland Trail to the more challenging, 2-mile Rocky Ridge Trail. The reserve hosts guided walks on weekends; past themes have included butterfly walks, birding walks, and geology walks. The reserve is free to enter, and open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

06 of 10

Kings Kloof Trails

Kings Kloof Trails, Muldersdrift, 1794, South Africa
Phone +27 66 316 0952

Mulderdrift’s Laurentia Farm (located near the Sterkfontein Caves in northwest Joburg) boasts hilly terrain, a wooded river valley, and five well-marked Kings Kloof Trails for hiking, biking, or trail running. These range from the 3.7-mile Green Trail to the 16.7-mile Red Trail; the former was designed as an easy option for families with young children, and the latter as a technical challenge. All but the Green Trail afford breathtaking waterfall views, with the relatively easy Yellow Trail being one of the most popular options.

As a working farm, Laurentia has large herds of cattle, which you can expect to encounter at close quarters. Small wild game species are often spotted as well. The trails are open on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Entry costs 40 rand per adult and 20 rand per child; children 4 and under may visit for free.

07 of 10

Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden

Male white-bellied Sunbird,Cinnyris talatala at at Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, Gauteng, South Africa

Derek Keats / Flickr

Malcolm Rd, Poortview, Roodepoort, 1724, South Africa

Krugersdorp’s Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden is one of 10 gardens managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute. It is also one of Johannesburg’s most important green spaces, and a great spot for hikers who wish to reconnect with nature. Although none of the walks are particularly long, they are all beautifully scenic, with examples of rare plants, flowers, and habitats to be admired along the way.

Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens is also known as a birding hotspot, with some 240 recorded avian species and a well-documented breeding pair of Verreaux’s eagles that nest near the waterfall. During breeding season, the eagles are often seen on the garden’s longest hike, a steep, 2.1-mile trail that ascends to the very top of the falls. Entry costs 65 rand per adult; the garden is open daily. 

08 of 10

Uitkyk Hiking Trail

Off R513 Below, Hartbeespoort Dam, Hartbeespoort, 0162, South Africa
Phone +27 82 776 5540

For serious hikers, the Uitkyk Hiking Trail is difficult to top in the Joburg area. It’s located 60 miles north of the city center in the Magaliesburg Biosphere—an area recognized by UNESCO for its astonishing biodiversity and ancient human history. The trail is just 5.2 miles long, but with rough terrain and steep ascents covering over 1,440 feet of elevation, it takes approximately five hours to complete. Along the way, expect jaw-dropping, panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and Hartbeestpoort Dam.

To hike this trail, you must book at least a day in advance via the Fagala Voet website. Because the route isn’t fenced or patrolled, you must also travel in groups of 20 or more for safety reasons, and sign a mountain register before starting. Food, sun protection, a first aid kit, and at least three liters of water are all mandatory for each hiker. 

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Hennops River Trails

The Hennops River Trails are located an hour’s drive north of Joburg on the Gauteng-North West border. There are four in total, all of which start and end on the picturesque Hennops River. Each one diverges away from the water into the mountains for part of the hike, and features unique river crossings via a cable car and one of two suspension bridges. Depending on the route you choose, you may see historic landmarks, including old dolomite mines and the remains of an Anglo-Boer War field hospital. Trails range from the River Trail (an easy 1-miler) to the Krokodilberg Trail (a more challenging 6.3-mile hike).

There’s no need to book, with opening hours from 6 or 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., depending on the season. Entry to the reserve costs 100 rand per adult and 50 rand per child, and includes access to a picnic spot with swimming pools and braai areas. 

10 of 10

Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve is a protected area south of Johannesburg and is a popular destination for hiking, cycling and game viewing

Mark Williams / Getty Images

R550, Heidelberg, South Africa
Phone +27 11 439 6300

If you’re up for making a full day trip of your next hiking adventure, consider driving 90 miles southwest of Joburg to Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve. This serene wilderness area is just under a two-hour drive from the city, and yet its location within the Vredefort Dome makes it feel much further, both in distance and time. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Dome is one of the oldest and largest meteor craters on Earth.

Suikerbosrand makes the most of the region’s mountainous scenery, with two well-marked, circular hiking trails that cover roughly 12 miles between them and take hikers up to 5,250 feet above sea level. Look out for small game (including monkeys and impala) as you walk. The reserve also offers mountain biking and swimming, and has self-catering chalets for those who wish to make a weekend of it. 

Back to List

The 10 Best Hikes in Johannesburg