South African National Parks (SANParks) reopened the Red Route in Harkerville, Western Cape, on Friday (June 29), coinciding with the first day of the Knysna Oyster Festival.

Speaking on site after an assessment was conducted, Area Manager for the Knysna section of the Garden Route National Park (GRNP), Megan Taplin, said her section had received numerous requests from cyclists to reopen parts of the trail affected by the June wildfires last year.

The Red Route Mountain biking trail coastal section through the fynbos area is now open after monitoring rehabilitation for a year and working on the part of the trail that offers cyclists a sneak scenic view of the Indian Ocean. Vegetation has recovered and the topsoil is increasingly stable.

Section Ranger for Harkerville, Nico Oosthuizen said: “Red Route was tested by some of the local and regular cyclists who were very pleased with the maintenance work done on it. Those areas include tracks burned during the extensive Knysna fires.”

Although the route has reopened, assessment and restoration will continue, mainly due to the sensitivity of the topsoil in some areas.

However, the Kranshoek hiking trail remains closed after an assessment of the vegetation and soil stability along the trail was conducted by independent hikers and assessors indicated it still needed time to recover.

One of the assessors, Di Turner, from Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (Crew), said: “The views of the rugged and beautiful coastline are unparalleled. It is crucial that it is reopened again as soon as possible. It is an incredible drawcard for international tourists and locals alike. At best, it is a strenuous and difficult hike and should be open to the fitter and more experienced hikers.”