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Visitors to Johannesburg are often surprised at the amount of outdoor activities available in and around this massive city. Here’s our round up of the best running trails, from inner city parks to beautiful game reserves.
Most of the Braamfontein Spruit runs between Emmarentia Dam and Sunninghill, so there are many options when choosing a route. A popular choice, however, is the 4.3 km (2.6 mi) route south of Emmarentia Dam. The trail leads runners in a circular route through the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens (which borders Emmarentia Dam) and back to the starting point.
Situated near Krugersdorp on the Laurentia Farm, the Kings Kloof running trails are complemented by valleys, river crossings, natural pools and amazing views. Trails are well-marked but tough, so take enough water and sun protection. The trail starts as one, before splitting into three different difficulty variations, covering a total distance of 22.5 km (14 mi).
The Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage site is home to many important archaeological discoveries and the area is popular among cyclists and runners alike. Whether you’d like to hit the tarmac solo or register for a race, the options here are endless.
On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, runners get together for a 4.5 km (2.7 mi) to 8 km (5 mi) race. The bi-weekly event is completely free and runners are given times when completing the course. Markers guide you along the route, and it’s a great way to get to know like-minded runners.
The 12.6 km (7.8 mi) Wildlife Loop is of moderate difficulty and runs through the beautiful Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve. The 608 hectare reserve is situated in the South of Johannesburg and its landscape boasts open veld and hilltops. It’s also home to 150 bird species and an abundance of wildlife, including blesbok, zebra and duiker. What’s more, it boasts the highest concentration of identified Iron Age sites on the Witwatersrand.
Segwati Ranch is approximately 45 minutes from Johannesburg and well worth the drive. From hiking and mountain biking, the reserve is a popular stop for those looking to escape into nature. The trails range from difficult to easy and all are properly marked. Segwati also offers accommodation for those interested in taking on a longer route.
Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve is a 35-minute drive from Johannesburg CBD and boasts vast open plains and rocky hills, ideal for trail runners. Runners are bound to spot game, including zebra that roam free on the reserve. There are two main circular trails: the 4 km (2.4 mi) Cheetah Trail and the Bokmakierie Trail with a long variation measuring 11.8 km (7.3 mi). Keep in mind that the trails are challenging and not for the amateur runner.
Thaba Trails offer 450 hectares of nature in the middle of the bustling city. The reserve is home to Johannesburg’s most popular mountain biking trails and also hosts the WildJoburg, a challenging trail running event. Wildlife is abundant and includes zebra, black wildebeest, jackal, mongoose and more. The trails are mostly single track and include plenty of climbing and technical sections for those who are after a bit of a rush. You can choose either one of the 5 km (3 mi), 10 km (6.2 mi) and 20 km (12.4 mi) trails.
The Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden was founded in 1982 and a visit here is one of the easiest ways to escape city life. Keep an eye out for the breeding pair of Verreaux’s Eagles, nesting near the waterfall. There are also over 600 plant species and 200 bird species in the gardens, which spans 300 hectares and offers much to explore.
The park is situated around a small lake and joggers can run the circular route to their heart’s content. The total distance is just under one kilometre (half a mile) and the terrain is flat, making it ideal for running. Zoo Lake is relatively shaded, and frequented by runners, walkers and picnickers alike. Parking is available and security patrols the area.