Strap on your running shoes and head to the KZN South Coast for the 7 best trail runs

Trail running is one of the fastest-growing sports – for good reason! According to British magazine, Runner’s World, trail running has a number of associated benefits for body and mind, including decreasing anxiety and working more muscles – at less risk – than traditional road running. With the KZN South Coast’s incredible coastal forests and farmlands, the region has a number of exhilarating trail runs suited to all levels.

“An increasing number of visitors are looking to enjoy a relaxing, nature-based holiday without compromising their fitness levels,” explained Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT). “The KZN South Coast is the ultimate holiday destination for such health-minded tourists with our well-maintained trail runs proving increasingly popular. These provide a great opportunity to reconnect with nature and explore another part of the beautiful Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom.”

Top KZN South Coast trail runs

1.      Rocky Bay Resorts (Scottburgh)

Opened in 2014, these spectacular running trails range in length and wind around the Ellingham Estate Farm, with wonderful sea views and lush forest settings. Runners can choose between a 4km, 6km, 8km and 10km trail run. All the running trails are marked in green while the mountain biking trails are marked orange. Finish off with a bite to eat at the on-site restaurant with a jungle gym, kids’ corner and swimming pool at the main lodge.

Rocky Bay Resorts (Scottburgh).

Contact: 039 976 0336 or lodge@rockybay.co.za

2.      Umdoni Park Trust Golf Club & Nature Reserve (Pennington)

This beautiful nature reserve has a number of forest walks and running trails suited to all skill sets with more than 200 bird species to look out for on the routes. All trails are clearly colour-coded and range from half-hour Jeff’s Wild Trail through to the tough but worthwhile 90-minute Gorge Trail with waterfall views. For younger families there’s the fun Interactive Trail with more than 300 informative signs on flora and fauna all the way to the Otter view site and forest pond.

Umdoni Park Trust Golf Club & Nature Reserve (Pennington).

Contact: 039 975 1615 or rynardt@umdonipark.com

3.      Lake Eland Game Reserve (Oribi Gorge)

Take a run on the wild side through this captivating game reserve consisting of bushveld, grassland, coastal forest and wetlands ecosystems home to a variety of bird- and wildlife. Traverse the reserve on the walking or running trails and enjoy a meal at the restaurant and tea garden adjacent to the children’s playground. There are also beautiful picnic sites, an 80m suspension bridge, and the incredible Zip Line Tour.

Lake Eland Game Reserve (Oribi Gorge).

Contact: 039 687 0395 or reservations@lakeeland.co.za

4.      ANEW Resort Ingeli Forest (Harding)

Situated at the foot of the Ingeli Mountain range is this beautiful forest that consists of a myriad of wonderful trail running tracks ranging from 1.8km to 30km. One of the trails leads to a dam which is the ideal setting for a picnic with family and friends.

ANEW Resort Ingeli Forest (Harding)

Contact: 039 553 0600 or charmaine@anewhotels.co.za

5.      Ventures by Sweetdale (Margate)

Set against rocky outcrops and rolling hills is this fantastic trail running spot. There are a number of intricate trails suited to running or walking as well as the more challenging Alpine Hike through thick bush and streams. The area is dog-friendly so fur friends can also get out and explore the region.

Contact: info@sweetdale.com

6.      Beaver Creek Coffee Estate (Port Edward)

The world’s southernmost coffee estate is also home to some of the KZN South Coast’s best running trails. There’s the shorter 2.5km Espresso Route which takes visitors through the coffee fields through to the 8.5km Stoney Creek Route which traverses neighbouring farms. At the enticing Estate Café, runners can tuck into a great meal and enjoy home-grown coffee to complete the experience.

Beaver Creek Coffee Estate (Port Edward).

Contact: 039 311 2315/47 or info@beavercreek.co.za

7.      Clearwater Trail Centre (Port Edward)

This scenic location gives visitors the chance to traverse a cross-section of both agricultural land and coastal forests teeming with incredible fauna and flora. Trail runners pass through macadamia nut orchards, banana plantations, patches of forest, open grasslands, dams and stream crossings with panoramic views of the Umtamvuna River Gorge and the Indian Ocean. The owners believe in sustainable trail-building techniques and these multi-purpose trails are suited to trail runners, nature walkers and mountain bikers seeking exercise or recreation. The trail route starts and ends at Beaver Creek Coffee Estate & Café with easy-to-follow white stone markers with blue or green arrows to guide trail runners.

Clearwater Trail Centre (Port Edward).

Contactinfo@clearwatertrails.co.za

To discover these and more exciting activities on the KZN South Coast, download the free ‘Explore KZN South Coast’ app from Google Play and Apple stores, or visit www.visitkznsouthcoast.co.za. Alternatively, check out ‘South Coast Tourism’ on Facebook or YouTube, @infosouthcoast on Twitter or Instagram, or ‘Info Ugu South Coast Tourism’ on LinkedIn. Follow the hashtags #KZNsouthcoast #summervibes #gosouth #summerishere #familyadventure #kidfriendly #adventuretravel #extendyourstay.