The Somerset East parkrun has become a popular outdoor activity for both locals and visitors to this beautiful Karoo Heartland town. But the parkrun hasn’t just created a Saturday morning outing, it’s also created a fantastic safe hiking trail option for the town. What is better than one trail? Two trails, as you can do the whole 5km route or opt-out about halfway. I spent a couple of days in Somerset East and Desiree of Mountain View Guest Inn took me for a walk along the 2.5km option in the forest against the Boschberg.
The best place to leave your car is at the Somerset East Golf Club which is also the start/finish point for the parkrun. I left my car a little further up the road close to the old Bestershoek Caravan Park but there wasn’t a lot of space to park. We had a look at the lower dam before heading up the hill towards the Bestershoek Dam on the edge of the forest. I can imagine there are probably a lot of people around here on weekends, but being a weekday it was quiet and peaceful. It is said that after good rains no less than 16 waterfalls are visible against the Boschberg and I took the time to try and get some waterfall pics with my zoom lens from here.
You also get a nice view back towards town from this first part of the trail with the Cookhouse wind farm in the distance.
The route crosses along the dam wall with the view being the Boschberg mountain overhead and the forest coming right down to the water’s edge with the sound of wind in the trees and the stream flowing over the rocks.
At the far end of the dam we took the path east following the cascading stream down to where we crossed over it.
We decided to take a break here and watch the stream as it was gushing down the hill. Somerset East had some good rains the weekend before and the stream fas flowing full and fast.
I really think visitors would be amazed doing this walk as forest, streams, lots of green, the cool air and all the little things you encounter along the way are often very far removed from what people normally associate the Karoo with. It truly is anything but and that is one of the things that makes Somerset East such a special place.
At roughly the halfway mark of the parkrun route where it crosses the road we turned off to go back towards the car as there wasn’t really time to do the remaining section of the trail around the golf course. This is where we encountered the stream again.
Heading back to the car we had to kick off our shoes to walk through the drift in the road. Ok, so it’s not like we had such a long walk, but walking barefoot through water is always fun.
You can visit the Somerset East parkrun website for directions and this map and put some time aside next time you’re in Somerset East for a quick hike. Don’t forget water and a hat and please don’t walk alone. We didn’t encounter any other people along the way, but there is always safety in numbers. Otherwise, head up there over the weekend and join the locals for a parkrun on a Saturday morning.