Steenrug 4×4 TrailReviewed: DO #13, 2006
101 Trail Guide | 2010
Steenrug 4×4 Trail
The farm Steenrug lies 12 km north of Clanwilliam on the Klawer Road. It is historically significant as it is the site of South Africa’s first rooibos tea plantation, dating back as far as 1904.
The trail begins at the Cape Dutch farmhouse beneath the imposing Mount Synnot and continues for some distance, turning here and there to avoid the odd boulder or tree. A few kilometres on it turns off to a waterfall on the Langhuis River. Don’t miss the rock art that can be seen on the rock walls near the waterfall.
Then the trail changes tack, climbing steeply on rocky tracks through a grove of poplars and past a natural spring that is a good place to stop for a break. Upwards it continues, past a large plateau (the location of the rooibos plantation), and finally coming to rest at the lookout point on top of Mount Synnot. From here you can see as far as Clanwilliam and the Olifants River Valley, but be warned … this lookout requires a head for heights.
You can see more rock art at a nearby rocky outcrop called Tandekop, definitely the place for a midday snack. Your journey continues with a slow and steady descent back towards the valley floor. On the way down it passes through a shady grove of large bluegum trees. If the urge to stop and pitch your tent here overwhelms you, feel free – this is the site of Steenrug’s new campsite.
The circular track eventually rejoins the main trail, at which point one can return down the mountain and head back to the farm. Although some sections of the trail are quite sandy, the variety of terrains it covers provides a well-rounded driving experience.
What you need to know
Steenrug offers basic camping facilities with full amenities in a lovely setting, beneath enormous bluegum trees alongside the Bulshoek Dam. For those more inclined to a little luxury, there are various other more upmarket accommodation options available next to the nearby Clanwilliam Dam.
Historical sites, rock art, swimming and unusual plants. The endangered elephant’s foot (Dioscorea elephantipes) plant can be seen near the start of the trail. Much of its large tuber protrudes above ground, and its knobby appearance is reminiscent of a tortoise shell, or, as its name suggests, an elephant’s foot. It contains the substance diosgenine from which cortisone is prepared, and it is one of the unusual plants in the area.
Niël and Cecily Müller
027 482 2541,
083 230 8628;
Nearest town: Clanwilliam (12 km)
Best time to go: All year round
Trail distance: 41 km
How long will I be driving? 4-5 hours
GPS: S32.10420 E18.87664
What you should know
Niel & Cecily Muller
027 482 2541
083 230 8628
41km | 4-5 hours
The beautiful Steenrug Farm lies 12km north of Clanwilliam on the Klaver Road. The farm is historically significant as the site of the very first rooibos tea plantation in 1904.
The route begins at the lovely Cape Dutch farmhouse, which lies beneath the towering cliffs of Mount Synnot. After about 2km, the track passes an area where the endangered Elephant's Foot (Dioscorea elephantipes) grows, a plant threatened with extinction. Much of its large tuber sits above the ground and its knobby appearance is reminiscent of a tortoiseshell, or, as its name suggests, an elephant's foot. It contains the substance diosgenine from which cortisone is prepared, and is only one of many unusual plants to be found on the farm. After a short drive, the road turns off to a lovely waterfall on the Langhuis River, where some rock art can be seen. The route then climbs quite steeply upwards on rocky tracks and passes through a poplar grove, where a natural spring produces some of the purest of cool, mountain water that I've ever tasted. Up and onwards one goes until a large plateau is revealed. This is where the first rooibos tea was farmed. The road then proceeds to the lookout point on Mount Synnot, from where amazing views over Clanwilliam and the Olifantsriver valley can be enjoyed. Here one needs a head for heights as one ends up standing on the edge of a sheer cliff overlooking the farm way below. This area, I'm happy to report, is still very much home to the Cape leopard. They are seldom seen, but their spoor often cross the track. Nearby, at a rocky outcrop called Tandekop, good rock art can be seen right beside the track.
Various accommodation options are available at the Clanwilliam dam.
There's a good campsite at Kliphuis, at the beginning of the Pakhuis Pass, and others at the Bulshoek Dam.