The forests around Knysna offer plenty of beautiful picnic spots where you can enjoy relaxing in nature, while your children roam free and run off excess energy. Some sites offer sprawling grassed areas and cool streams, which make it perfect for spending time with friends and family while cooling off in the shade provided by magnificent indigenous trees.
All these sites are situated within the Garden Route National Park.
1. Krisjan-se-Nek (near Rheenendal)
This small picnic site offers spectacular views and a huge lawn ideal for games (so pack a ball!) There are lovely trails in the forest. Walk the “Circles in the Forest” hiking trail or cycle the Homtini Mountain Bike Trail. Both start and end at the picnic site. There are tables and benches and barbecue facilities, as well as ablutions. The water in the streams have a dark colour due to the tannins and humic acids from the leaves on the forest floor but is completely safe.
There is a small entrance fee and permits are obtainable from the Goudveld entrance gate at Bibby’s Hoek. You can also visit the Dalene Matthee Memorial at the site.
2. Jubilee Creek (near Rheenendal)
The Jubilee Creek Picnic Site is nestled in the forest, within the valley, alongside a fresh mountain stream. The site is equipped with tables and benches, barbecue facilities, bush toilets, and fresh water.
The Jubilee Creek Walk is a short 1,5-kilometre hike through the Old Mining Trails to a waterfall and swimming hole. No permit is required, but you have to enter through a controlled boom and there is a small fee.
3. Kranshoek Picnic Site (near Harkerville)
The Kranshoek Picnic Site offers the perfect combination of indigenous forest and the pristine coastline of the Garden Route.
There is safe drinking water, as well as ablutions, tables and barbecue facilities available. There is even a stream, with frogs, for the children to play in.
The Forest Flora Trail is only one kilometre long, while the Kranshoek Trail is a challenging nine-kilometre circular trail. However, there is a shortcut, reducing the total distance by five kilometres. The fynbos and coastal landscape offer incredible views.
A permit is required for the Kranshoek Trail (available at the boom) and there is a small entrance fee.
4. Ysterhoutrug Picnic Site (Diepwalle State Forest)
The Ysterhoutrug picnic site is situated along the R339 to Uniondale. The site offers wooden tables and benches, a few barbecue sites, as well as expanses of grassed areas for kids to run around.
The White Elephant Hiking Trail is an eight-kilometre circular hiking route, for which you will need to get a permit from the Diepwalle Forestry Station.
5. Velbroeksdraai Picnic Site (Diepwalle State Forest)
Also located along the R339 to Uniondale, the Velbroeksdraai picnic site offers scenic surroundings and a 600-year-old Outeniqua Yellowwood – one of the ancient trees of the forest. A 600-metre circular forest walk starts at the picnic spot and is accessible for the whole family.
The Red Elephant Hiking Trail also passes through here – you can obtain permits from the Diepwalle Forestry Station.
6. Grootdraai Picnic Site (Gouna Forest)
Situated on the “big turn” of the Kom-se-Pad Loop, just outside the magnificent Gouna Forest, the picnic site is equipped with wooden tables and benches, barbecue facilities, fresh water, and rustic bush toilets. The Kom-se-Pad Loop is a 50-kilometre route that offers stunning views and is popular among cyclists.
The Terblans Hiking Trail starts at the picnic site and takes walkers on a 6,5-kilometre walk through the forest. (A self-issued permit is required.)
7. Woodville Picnic Site (Hoekville)
The Woodville picnic site offers lush green grassed areas and picnic spots under the trees. Kids will love playing in the cool stream, so bring swimwear and towels. There are plenty of picnic tables and wooden benches.
There is also an easy two-kilometre walk to enjoy. Visit the Woodville tree. The Outeniqua yellowwood tree in Woodville is a huge, tall tree that is about 31 meters. It is believed to be over 800 years old.
8. King Edward VII Picnic Site (Diepwalle State Forest)
Nestled within tall, lush trees and forest ferns, the beautiful picnic site offers picnic tables and benches with barbecue facilities, toilets, and fresh water.
Standing 40 metres tall and boasting a bole circumference of seven metres, is an Outeniqua Yellowwood tree more than 650 years old.
The eight-kilometre White Elephant Hiking Trail passes through the site and there is also an easy wheelchair-friendly walk (only 450 metres) on a wooden walkway.
There is a small entrance fee and the Elephant Hiking Trail requires a permit, which you can obtain from the boom or from the Diepwalle Forestry Station.
9. Valley of Ferns Picnic Site (Diepwalle State Forest)
Resting in a small valley, the site offers vast open grassy spaces and shady spots under the trees.
There is a short 450-metre walk in the forest and a slightly more strenuous walk up to which leads up to Spitskop where you can enjoy the most spectacular views.
10. Garden of Eden (Next to the N2, about halfway between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay)
First opened in 1926, the site offers short, circular walks and an 800-metre trail – all wheelchair-friendly. As it is situated right next to the N2, it also offers a great place to stop and stretch your legs while passing through between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.
There are wooden benches and tables along the trails to sit, snack or enjoy a picnic, as well as water and ablution facilities. There are no barbecue facilities here.
There is a small office at the entrance where you pay a small fee. Outside office hours you are allowed to enter and do the walk.
Garden Route National Park – Knysna Lakes Section
Tel: (044) 302 5600