The Trails

Overview

Extreme – +-25km per day

Exclusively single-track, foot-path or mountain-running.
Technical in places; lots of steep climbing and descent; boulder hopping and rock jumping; river crossings; great balance between some steep climbs, technical trail and fast running.
Day 1 tests the Mountain & Day 2 explores the Valley; big skies, rugged peaks, rolling hills; see the legendary Amphitheatre at its most glorious.

Level of fitness / trail-running experience – not for those scared of heights or sweat. Best suited to trail runners with some level of technical and distance experience, or strong roadies who are fairly fit; however trails are professionally designed to challenge rather than destroy, and to show off the splendour of the Drakensberg; very strong and fit hikers should be able to enjoy this if they are prepared to do a bit of running.

runtheberg-homeslides-2-2017-3

Challenge – +-15km per day

Exclusively single-track, foot-path or mountain-running.
Moderately technical; some climbing / descent; boulders & rivers; lots of good running.
Panoramic views, spectacular scenery and the best that the Montusi Valley has to offer.

Level of fitness / trail-running experience – perfect for the up and coming trail runner who has run a couple of semi-rural trails around the city, has fallen in love with the sport and is ready for the real deal; also for the moderately fit roadie who is ready to escape the tarmac. This will definitely test but won’t kill.

runtheberg-venueslides-2016-01

Runtheberg Route Descriptions

RuntheBerg Extreme (+-50km – net ascent approx 2400m)

Day 1: +-25km of spectacular real mountain running along the skyline of the mountains forming the border between KZN and the Free State (approx Net Ascent 1580m). A portion of this route takes in the Cavern Drakensberg Resort’s famous Big Five hiking route.

Day 1 starts at the Cavern Berg Resort (1481m) and finishes down the valley at All Out Adventures.

The trail makes a gentle start on a well-worn hiking track through the magical Fern Forest before starting the steep ascent (500m) up the mighty Hlolela mountain. This track is slightly less well-worn and as you zig-zag steeply up, you begin to understand why! The zig-zags end at the base of the Ace of Clubs – 3 dramatic sandstone cliffs that protrude from the end of Hlolela Mountain. Runners must then negotiate a scramble up Cilla Gully before tackling the Nose – a narrow trail that falls steeply away on both sides – you had better have a head for heights! Once on top (2137m) you are rewarded with a panoramic view of the Amphitheatre and the whole Northern Berg, well worth the effort and the vertigo! To say that the trail is then undulating may be something of an understatement, and after conquering Hlolela (Peak 1 of the Big 5), there are someserious ups and downs en route to the Battle Ship (Peak 2).
From there it’s a sketchy descent on an uneven and tufty slope to Venus Bath. In the wet months this is a favourite swimming spot that offers awesome views of the valley below. What remains before heading back down through the sandstone cliffs is Sugar Loaf (2050m) and Cold Hill. Cold Hill, so called as it is usually the first peak where the winter snow falls, offers breathtaking views of the Amphitheatre. Stop a minute to take this in and catch your breath, in preparation for the tricky descent that follows…
The trail (and we use the term loosely now) takes you on a steep diagonal down Devil’s Staircase, to the top of the Sandstone Cliff line. There is a second scramble down the rather treacherous Cavern Gap – mind the rolling rocks – before you are back on the hiking trail which leads to the Cannibal Cavern. The trail goes through a dramatic 40 meter high, 30 meter deep sandstone over-hang, and comes out on to the top of Surprise Ridge. The “surprise” here is the beauty of the close up views of the Drakensberg’s most famous land marks. The trail then follows the horse path through the protea trees to the final peak, Camels Hump.
After Camels Hump it’s a quick steep descent down Surprise Ridge to meet up with the Grotto trail – one of the area’s most scenic mountain bike tracks. This beautiful single track follows the contour of the hill past Fan Falls before runners are taken south along the cliff line of Trilby Hill, staying high on the undulating but fast-running single track with spectacular views of the Amphitheatre above and the Montusi Valley. The last few km cross a flat high plateau and along some unforgettable cliff-line trail before a fast mountain side spiral down into the Race Village and home!!

Day 2: +-25km (approx Net Ascent 820m) more of beautiful mountain trails through the scenic Puteril’s River Valley.

Day 2 starts and finishes at All Out Adventures

The route leaves the Adventure Centre and follows the Quad Trail down Dassie Pass to Puteril’s Stream where the first river crossing of the day takes place. After some boulder hopping and possibly some wet feet, the trail follows the river for some fast scenic running before climbing out of the valley and into a long cliff-top section that backtracks high above the river. The route follows a fairly flat line at the top of the cliff before dropping down to cross the top of the Waterfall (don’t overtake on the right!!) and climbs up a rocky hill to the view point below Montusi Mountain Lodge. From the viewpoint it takes you cross country through the horse paddocks to the dam where it starts to climb again to the top of Montusi Ridge. On top of the ridge the trail meanders around the back of Montusi Mountain until it reaches the Nook Road, a disused 4×4 track that used to provide an alternate route into the valley when the Tugela bridge was flooded. The track then descends back down to Montusi Lodge, where it merges with the single track that follows the runway to the top of Secret Pass. At the bottom of Secret Pass the third river crossing of the day awaits. During high water runners steady themselves on the overhead cable, but in October the water level should be relatively sane. The trail then follows the cycle trail along the river, before crossing the Waterfall Challenge and heading up along the Owl’s Pass – runners should save some energy for these last few km, rising steadily up through a lush stream bed before topping out over the new waterfall challenge. The home stretch takes in the All Out Adventures Forest Loop around the Race Village before the short sprint to the Finish.

Route Profiles

Route Map

runtheberg-misc-2016-02

RuntheBerg Challenge (+-30km – net ascent approx 1140m)

Day 1: +-15km of beautiful mountain running. (approx Net Ascent 780m)

Day 1 starts at The Cavern Drakensberg Resort (1481m) and finishes at All Out Adventures

The intermediate runners follow the Extremists out through the Fern Forest, but breath a big sigh of relief as their trails continues along the contour to May’s Falls, rather than climbing steeply up to Hlolela. The track follows the bridle path below the sandstone cliffs around to The Cavern’s Top Dams. It then descends to join up with the Grotto Hiking trail which goes along the top of Surprise Ridge. Just beyond the half-way point the trail merges with the Extreme Route as if follows the MTB trail before runners are taken south along the cliff line of Trilby Hill, staying high on the undulating but fast-running single track with spectacular views of the Amphitheatre above and the Montusi Valley below. The last few km cross a flat high plateau and along some unforgettable cliff-line trail before a fast mountain side spiral down into the Race Village and home!

Day 2: +-15km more of awesome Drakensberg trail running (approx Net Ascent 360m)

Day 2 starts and finishes at All Out Adventures

Once again the Intermediate route and the Extreme route overlap for the first couple of kilometres as the trail meanders down the switchbacks of Dassie pass to the Puteril’s Stream, where the first river crossing of the day takes place. After some boulder hopping and possibly some wet feet, the trail follows the river for some fast scenic running before climbing out of the valley and into a long cliff-top section that backtracks high above the river. The route follows a fairly flat line at the top of the cliff before dropping down to cross the top of the Waterfall (don’t overtake on the right!!) and climbs up a rocky hill to the view point below Montusi Mountain Lodge. The trail then hugs the escarpment and follows a fairly gentle gradient to the top of Secret Pass. At the bottom of Secret Pass the third river crossing of the day awaits. During high water runners steady themselves on the overhead cable, but in October the water level should be relatively sane. The trail then follows the cycle track along the river, before crossing the Waterfall Challenge and heading up along the Owl’s Pass – runners should save some energy for these last few km, rising steadily up through a lush stream bed before topping out over the new waterfall challenge. The home stretch takes in the All Out Adventures Forest Loop around the Race Village before the short sprint to the Finish.

Route Profiles

Route Map

2 thoughts on “The Trails”

  1. Hi Maxine, Yes we will have the services of Claire and her awesome Adventure Physio team to work on tired legs. Closer to the time we will send out links and contact details for bookings etc.
    Regards,
    Warren

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *