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CAT’S PAD LOWER AND UPPER TRAILS

Submitted by:
Leo Rust

Where is your MicroAdventure located?
Franschoek, Western Cape

How long is the MicroAdventure in total, out and back?
4 - 6 hours, 16 km

Give the people a short description of your MicroAdventure.
In 1688 French Huguenots established the “French Corner” after fleeing religious persecution in France and traveling to the Cape to seek their fortunes.

The valley was previously called Olifants Hoek. Elephants used to visit to calve, sadly the last one was seen departing over the mountains at the head of the valley (in direction of Villiersdorp) in 1850.

This history is still represented through the flag of Franschoek which bears a grey elephant in the centre of a French flag.

Our trail is situated on the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve and runs parallel to the Franschoek Pass. It follows the original pass built in 1819 and in parts you can still see signs of the original construction.

Permits are easily bought online at www.webtickets.co.za. You need to get a permit beforehand and keep it with you for the day.

There is no water to be found en route so you need to bring your own. There is water at Jan Joubert’s Gat which is the turn around point (or finish if you pre arrange a pick up there).

Bring appropriate clothing as the top of the pass can be quite cold in windy conditions.

You will hear the occasional gurgling from the water pipe which supplies the Fransche Hoek estate with water so don’t be alarmed if you hear what sounds like a growl along the trail.

The gradient is pretty constant up to the top. About ¾ of the way you have a choice. The right fork crosses over the tar road and ascends a short ladder on the far side. You will then follow a section of old road (visible coming in from the right) and reach the memorial and the highest point above the pass before arriving at the gravel parking area on the left of the Pass.

If you continue on with the trail before crossing the road then it does a long loop around the final hairpin and arrives at the Mont Rochele gate and a hundred meters further on at the same gravel parking area.

The ascent gains 305m in 2,7 km.

The Upper Cat’s Pad trail starts here and takes a vague single track down a short embankment from the parking area and runs parallel to the tar road for a while. The views of the valley heading towards Villiersdorp and the Theewaterskloof Dam are awesome. For those inclined to stretch the legs the climbing is now done and the descent is very runnable at a constant descent for 4km! You will cross a short bridge and see a car wreck to your right (if you are paying attention). At one point there is a path to the right (with some stones across it. Take this as it will lead you to the hairpin bend on the Pass. Cross over the tar road and follow the trail on the other side. You will pass an oak and remains of an old bridge. Stay left after meeting up with a jeep track. And you will finally exit onto the road. Follow this a couple of hundred meters to Jan Joubert’s Gat. A welcome lunch spot in the shade. You can either pre arrange to leave a vehicle here or return via the way you came.

How do you get to the start? Please share some directions.
Start: Once you arrive in Franschoek town look out for Reservoir street branching off from the main road close to the Franschoek Monument. Follow this road to the end and enter the private Fransche Hoek estate through a security boom. Continue up the road for a couple of hundred meters to park. From here you walk up the steep paved road until you see the signs off to the right leading to the start of Cat’s Pad trail.

How much did it cost (per person)?
R0 - R250 per person

Best time to go?
All year round. If you do this in high Summer you are likely to get welded by the sun on the ascent though.

A quick note about safety. Can you do it solo? Do you need a crew?
The first half is the safest as it starts in the estate. The second half is a little more remote only in the sense that mobile phone reception is not ideal and you are close to a road.

What sport is this adventure most related to?
Hiking, Trail Running

Do you need any special permissions / permits?
Yes

How difficult is the MicroAdventure?
4/10

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