Hiking in Sandton

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The Sandspruit Hiking Trail

A hidden piece of the Country in urban Sandton, Johannesburg.

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The Sandspruit ("Sand stream") rises on the southern slopes of the Witwatersrand, in the Wilds in Johannesburg.  A tributary rises near Death Bend on Louis Botha Avenue, Houghton.  It flows past Killarney Mall, through the golf course and James and Ethel Grey Park, between the M1 Motorway and Melrose Arch, and into Sandton at Innesfree Park.  The river flows under Katherine Street and South Road, past Ernest Ullmann Park, under Kelvin Drive, Eighth Avenue and 12th Avenue, Rivonia.  Thence it flows under the N1 Highway and Witkoppen Road to Confluence in Paulshof where it joins the Braamfontein Spruit to flow into the Jukskei River and eventually into Hartebeestpoort Dam.

In theory the entire river is a hiking trail, although parts have been detoured along roads in order to avoid public property.  Nervous residents have fenced many sections, so in places it is necessary to get gate keys for access.  Many years ago we hiked the entire length from The Wilds to Confluence: It is doubtful whether this is possible today, particularly since the causeway under South Road bridge washed away in March 2010.  We now focus mainly on the area between Innesfree Park in the south and Twelfth Avenue, Rivonia, in the north.

The trail is good for walks of up to four hours in peaceful and natural surroundings with ever-running water, spectacular rock formations, equally spectacular bank erosion due to urbanisation, lawns, indigenous vegetation, willows, blue-gums, invasive black wattles, bugbushes, kakiebos and black-jacks.  There are Egyptian geese, ducks, plover, guinea fowl, various ibis, other birds (particularly waterfowl), and occasionally a rare sighting such as a leguan (monitor lizard).  Dogs are allowed on leads or under control.

Parts of the trail are maintained by residents as a park, others are still natural African veld occasionally mowed by Joburg City Parks.  Some areas are disturbed by construction activity from thoughtless developers, such as at Espirit Estate upstream of Ullman Park.  The river suffers from a rubbish problem, as litter dropped in the street is washed into the storm-water drains and thence into the Spruit.  Due the the ill-advised densification policy of the City of Johannesburg the catchment is becoming increasingly paved over: This increases sudden runoff from rainfall, resulting in ever higher flash floods and river erosion, and lower water levels between floods.

A committee (SOS Save Our Sandspruit) was established in 2009 by concerned residents, and you are invited to join and contribute: e-mail Judith.

How safe is it to walk?  If in doubt it is better to go with a group and/or with dogs.  Do not take conspicuous valuables.  You are welcome to join us on Sundays (see below). We have never had a problem, though we sometimes see vagrants.  You can also use the trail for running and jogging, and some areas are good for mountain-biking.

We live close by the Sandspruit Hiking Trail, and have keys to the gates both for access downstream from Kelvin Drive, and upstream through Murray Ave West into Ernest Ullmann Park (Cnr. Minto Place and Alma Road, Morningside. Tel: 011 802-3309 or 802-6921).

We go for regular walks along the Sandspruit on Sunday mornings, starting from 126 Kelvin Drive (opposite Gary Ave) at 08:00 sharp.  We alternate one week upstream, one week downstream.  Fairly fit adults and teenagers are welcome to join us. We hike 2 to 2 hours along the river, viewing birds, picking up litter, and removing invasives.  Our North walk (more scenic) is downstream Kelvin Drive to the area of 12th Avenue Rivonia, and return.  South (more rugged) goes upstream via Gary Avenue and Ernest Ullmann Park to between South Rd and Katherine Street, and back.  Bring water, a hat, sun block, rain gear, and good walking shoes that can get wet from the grass!  Well-behaved and properly socialised dogs are welcome.  There is no formal charge, but donations of R10 upwards per person for trail improvement are welcome.

Autumn (April-May) is black-jack season, so avoid clothing to which these nasty burrs can attach. It is best to wear putties (sock coverings), very short socks, or long trousers.  Joburg City Parks occasionally mow the trail, but they always wait until the weeds have set seed.

October is Mulberry Month!  Come walking with us along the Sandspruit and return with a red mouth!

Note: We sometimes miss a Sunday, or don't stick rigidly to time.  To avoid disappointment, please e-mail or phone us (011 802-2685: Judith/Rick) beforehand if you would like to to join us!  Contact details and link to map below...

Click here for some notes on the Sandspruit in the urban context.

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Photo Gallery: (click a picture to enlarge it; click your Browser's  Back  button to return here)

Syringa in blossom


Grassy bank

Kelvin Drive bridge

There's a leguan somewhere...


Uhlmann Park seen from Murray Ave crossing

Near Protea Close looking upstream

Near Protea Close looking downstream

Spring near Woodmead Springs

Trail near Woodmead Springs

Flowering Wattles

Map of Northern Section

This section runs from Kelvin Drive (two gates, one on each bank, keys obtainable from us) to 8th Avenue Rivonia (where you could park if you went on your own), to 12th Avenue Rivonia and 300 m beyond to the river crossing.  To display the map in a separate window, click here.

View Sandspruit Trail North in a larger map

Map of Southern Section (not yet set up)

This section goes upstream from Ernest Ullmann Park to South Rd.  The causeway that used to allow easy passage under South Road bridge washed away in March 2010.  Consequently, to proceed further, one now has to cross the river using what is left of the low-water bridge, go up the embankment to South Road, cross both the bridge and South Road, and go down the embankment onto the east bank.  From thee is is a clear walk to Katherine Street and Innesfree Park.


Phone (07:00 21:00): 011 802-2685, Rick 082 389-3482 or Judith 082 389-3481

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2004-2018 Megaplex cc. All rights reserved. Contents may be used for reference purposes, as long as credit is duly given. - Last Updated: 16 November 2018. Contact Webmaster.