LOERKOP TRAIL

TIME: 1.5 HOURS

DISTANCE: 3 KM

HIGHEST POINT: 436 M

LOWEST POINT: 230 M

LEVEL: MODERATE (STEEP SECTIONS)


The trail is steep in parts and water should be carried. Take the Krige road and cross the Riviersonderend on the low-lying bridge. This is about the position where, in days gone by, a ferryman earned his living by bringing people across the river in his boat. The water flow must have been much stronger before the Theewaterskloof Dam was built and the vegetable and fruit farms were not yet established.

Follow the road beyond the bridge up a short incline, and turn right into the old road quarry. Follow the signs and you will find a kissing gate in the commonage fence. Behind the kissing gate, turn right and follow the path cut into the fynbos. Go over the neck and down into a little gully.

Cross the stream (most of the time there is no water) and you will find yourself climbing up among thinly spread but very thorny shrubs. These Muraltia species belong to the Polygala family which usually have a pleated horizontal frill projecting from the 'mouth'. In some years (probably depending on right rainfall at the right time) in winter these slopes are covered with purple or magenta flowers, a spectacular show! Half way up an alien invasion of Hakea sericea is encountered.

Scanning the surrounding hills with binoculars may reward you with the sight of some antelopes, probably Grey Rhebok. With some luck a flock of blue cranes, indigenous to this area, may be observed in the farmland.

Further up, one of the ground proteas (P. restionifolia) can be found. All the plants which look like grass are actually restios. One has to look carefully to find the protea flower near the ground in between the restio leaves.

Just short of the summit grows another not so common protea, "Tolbos" (Leucadendron teretifolia). The female cone of older plants may be bright red.

The top of Loerkop is marked with a cairn. The 360-degree view is marvellous: the whole chain of the Riviersonderend mountains is spread from east to west, with Greyton and Genadendal in sheltered positions. The Overberg wheatbelt, very green in winter and a dull brown in summer, lies to the south dominated by the massive Swartberg. This is a fine place to have breakfast or to enjoy the low sun in the afternoon.

The flat top of the hill, covered with orchids and aristeas at the right time of the year,ends in some rocks where aloes bring their vivid colours to the veld in winter. The path then winds down to the lower levels of fynbos, bringing you back to the kissing gate and the quarry.