Spaanschemat River Trail

The beautiful Spaanschemat River trail is in the heart of the Constantia Green Belt

 

 

The Spaanschemat River Trail, like many other green belt trails has a number of entrances into and exits out of the trail.  It can also be joined with other green belt trails to increase the length of your hike.

 

How to get there

To get to the Spaanschemat River Road entrance to the trail, you need to turn into Spaanschemat River Road from Constantia Main Road or from Ladies Mile Road further up. Drive in the direction of Peddlars on the Bend, a popular restaurant in Constantia. Just before you reach Peddlars on the Bend look out for a low white wall on your left with the date 1995 painted on it.

The Spaanschemat River Trail starts just after that and before the ‘Spaanschemat River’ signboard. I parked in the parking lot of ‘Peddlars on the Bend’, across the road, and walked back to the start of the trail.

This is a dog friendly trail that doesn’t require a My Activity permit.

The trail starts at the following coordinates:

S 34⁰ 01.806′       E 018⁰ 26.427′

 

 

The Speedy Review (tl;dr)

This is a great hike for the whole family (including your furry family members) to enjoy.  It is mostly flat, so it caters for the not-so-fit to the trail runners.  Watch out for the cyclists on the trail, they tend to come at speed and might not always see you fast enough to avoid a collision.

 

 

Trail Ninometer

Nina rated this trail 3/5 paw prints.  Whilst she enjoyed the beautiful scenery, the mountain bikes interfered a bit with the whole experience.

 

 

The Nitty Gritty

On Saturday 29 July 2017 at 09:42, Nina and I started this hike from the Spaanschemat River Road entrance, as described above. Belinda was overseas visiting family so it was just the two of us. I was immediately alert to the high number of mountain  bikers who use this trail to ride their bikes. And why not, the trail is perfectly suited to mountain biking.

However, the notice at the beginning of the trail describes this route as a shared trail and lists the following conditions of entry when using this track.

Conditions of Entry

  1.   Cyclists use the trail at own risk
  2.   Cycling is only permitted on the demarcated route
  3.   Cyclists do not have right of way and must yield to other trail users
  4.  Cyclists must ensure that other trail users are aware of their  approach
  5.  Cyclists must wear a helmet

 

Conditions of Conduct

  • Be considerate and polite
  • Be seen and be heard: ring your bell or say ‘hello’
  • Yield to all other users
  • Keep left-pass right when safe to do so
  • Pass other users slowly and safety. Get off your bike if necessary
  • Ride at a sensible speed at all times
  • Ride single file on narrow trails
  • Slow down ahead of corners and anticipate other users
  • don’t scare animals and give them room

 

This is the most important paragraph on the whole sign:

“This is a trail-sharing area. Please respect all users”

Unfortunately, this was not my experience when I walked this trail for the first time. Mountain bikers travel at speed along the trail and I had to keep looking behind me to make sure that I wasn’t run over. Don’t get me wrong, the mountain bikers were friendly, but they were riding at speed and made no attempt to slow down as they approached Nina and I.

Before walking a 100 meters, Nina and I had to move off the track at least 5 times to allow mountain bikers through. The trail is really beautiful and we took those opportunity waiting for the bikers to pass to soak up the scenery around us.

Dotted along the trail are information boards containing interesting information on the plant and animal life that you are likely to see along the trail. I am sure that this will appeal to parents who choose to bring their children along for a walk. It can be an educational experience for the kids as well.

There were a lot of squirrels scurrying up the trees along the route as we walked by. They were all way too fast for me to be able to photograph them. It was almost as though there were playing ‘peek a boo’ with me.

At some point along the route, Nina and I moved left of the main track and walked along a wider jeep track that runs above the cycle / walking track on the left. I did this to get out of the way of the cyclists. The jeep track didn’t last long and we had to move down again and back on to the narrow cycle / walking track again.

 

 

We crossed over a wooden bridge making sure that there were no mountain bikers approaching and found a small stream flowing to our left on the other side of the bridge. I spotted a pair of sacred ibises padding through the stream looking for breakfast.

After we continued along the trail, at 10:04, the path curved to the left and headed for the M3 highway. It wasn’t immediately obvious whether the track went under the M3 or turned and ran alongside it.

The trail ended up taking a sharp right turn very close to the M3 highway and continued through a tunnel of trees.

 

The stream continued along the left hand side of the path. We passed a couple walking their dog there. This was one of the few times that we passed someone else walking a dog on this trail.

We had covered a distance of 1.3 km to that point with a moving time of 17 minutes. The total time on the trail to that point was 25 minutes with an elevation of 21 meters. Nina and I ended up in the leaves a few times to make way for the biker brigades that flew passed us.

The M3 is a busy highway, but I was too busy enjoying the scenery and growing eyes in the back of my head to worry about the traffic noise from the road.

At 10:12, we came to a fork in the path with no signage indicating which way we needed to go to stay on the Spaanschemat River Trail. Due to the high number of mountain bikes that continued to zoom passed us, I decided to turn right there and continue along a hopefully quieter route.

 

 

Immediately on our left, after we turned right, was a pond. There didn’t appear to be much in the way of bird life on this pond so I continued on straight away.

We walked on into a cool forested area with reeds on our left hand side. A fallen tree blocked the path there, but it seemed that the tree had fallen over quite some time back as the alternate route around the tree was well worn and easily visible.

The flowers along the green belt are really beautiful and I stopped quickly to take a photo of a particularly pretty flower next to the path, along with a funny looking plant that resembled two long haired teenagers on their way to a heavy metal concert.

The trail runs quite close to residential houses on the right hand side and widened into a forest path.

 

 

At 10:18, the trail opened into a wide open grassed park. The distance covered to that point was 1.8 km. On our left, I noticed a grassed jeep track and curiosity got the better of me. I went off to the left to go and have a look at where it went to.

The grassed jeep tract ran between two large ponds the size of small dams.

The dams are situated at the following GPS coordinates:

S 34⁰ 02.483′       E 018⁰ 26.366′

Elevation: 28 m

The bird life at this particular dam is abundant including ducks, coots and weaver birds.

While I was taking photos of all the birds, Nina looked on patiently. Eventually I got a look from her that said, “Okay that’s enough now, let’s get moving again”.

 

 

Around the other side of the dam, further along the trail, there was a bench right next to the waters edge. If you were so inclined, you could sit down there and observe the goings on of the local bird life on the dam.

Again there are beautiful plants and flowers surrounding the dam.

We continued along the trail for a short distance before the trail appeared to cross a small wooden bridge and ended at a tar road. I decided not to cross the bridge and rather to turn around and head back along the same path Nina and I had walked on to get there. The distance covered to this point was 2.48 km with a moving time of 33 minutes. The total time on the trail was 01h00.

The spot where I chose to turn around (TA), at 10:41, was situated at the following GPS coordinates:

S 34⁰ 02.413′       E 018⁰ 26.246′

Elevation: 30 m

 

 

At 10:55, we reached the fork in the road again where we had turned right earlier, off the main trail. The distance covered to that point was 3.1 km with a moving time of 43 minutes.

On our way back, we passed a pair of Egyptian geese enjoying the sunshine.

On the return trip along the main path, we encountered far less mountain bikes, although there were still a few as the photo below shows.

At 11:20, we reached Spaanschemat River Road again and the end of the hike. The total hiking distance was 4.62 km. The other hiking stats are listed below.

 

The Stats

There were no distance markers on this route.

This out-and-back route covered a total distance of  4.62 km.

 

Here are the hiking stats for this route:

Trip Odometer 4.62 km
Total Time 01h39
Moving Time 01h01
Moving Average 4.5 km/h
Overall Average 2.8 km/h
Max Speed 9.3 km/h
Elevation 21 m – 45 m

 

I have attached a GPS trip log for the hike, including a side elevation profile.  You can click on each image to enlarge it.

 

 

 

 



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