Hogsback Waterfalls Hike

39 Steps Waterfall in Hogsback
39 Steps Waterfall in Hogsback

By Vicky · Published Jun. 19th, 2024

This fun hike visits four waterfalls in Hogsback: Swallowtail Falls, Madonna & Child Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and the 39 Steps Waterfall.

Hogsback Waterfalls Hiking Trail Map


This walk starts from the main street in Hogsback, Eastern Cape. There are many parking spots along the road, for example opposite SaveMor Supermarket.


  • The bridges and steps near Madonna & Child Falls and poorly maintained and in quite bad condition, so take care. It can be very slippery when wet.
  • Keep quiet and you might see a rare Samango monkey in the trees – these only live in scattered evergreen mountain forests and Hogsback is one of the places they live.
  • Check out Mountain Zebra National Park nearby, or find more hikes in South Africa, see our South Africa Hiking Guide.

Hogsback Waterfalls Hiking Route

Big Tree
The Big Tree in Hogsback forest on a hike to waterfalls

From where you left your car, head all the way down the side of the road to the end of Hogback town. As the main road makes a bend, you’ll see a hiking trail leading off to your left, signposted to ”Big Tree”.

Take this path through the jungle-like forest and after about 30 minutes you’ll reach the Big Tree. It’s enclosed by a fence so you can’t miss it. Standing almost 40 metres tall, it’s estimated to be about 800 years old.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls in Hogsback
Views in a forest in South Africa

Hiking onwards, the trail heads slightly down and then roughly contours along the wooded slopes. After another roughly 30 minutes, you’ll come to the turnoff to Bridal Veil Falls, the first of the waterfalls on this hike in Hogsback.

It’s a steep and quite rocky clamber up through the jungle to get to these falls. It’s a nice waterfall, but not so impressive as the next falls, so don’t take this detour if you don’t want.

Madonna & Child Waterfalls in Hogsback

Madonna & Child Waterfalls on a hike
Madonna & Child Waterfalls in Hogsback

A short hike further, you’ll get to the Madonna & Child Waterfalls, one of the most popular waterfalls in Hogsback. Make sure to do the short out-and-back walk to actually reach the base of the falls. After admiring the water pouring over the high cliffs, return back to the hiking trail and head upwards. Some of the trail infrastructure here such as wooden steps and bridges are slightly rotten, so take care.

Swallowtail Falls

Hiking near Swallowtail Falls in Hogsback, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Samango monkey

After this steep uphill, you’ll reach a track at the top, between the forest and the open. Turn left here. After about 2 km of easy walking, as the road bends a corner, you’ll see a hiking signpost for Swallowtail Falls on your left. It’s about 500 metres along a small trail to the top of the waterfalls. From here you can get a view through the trees to the plains far below – but don’t go too close to the edge as the rocks are very slippery.

If you want to reach the base of the falls, it’s down a skiddy slope. Only head down if you’re confident that you’ll be able to get up again! At some times of year, there’s enough water in the pools at the base of the waterfall to have a dip – though they’re not large enough to really swim.

When you’re ready, return back to the main track and turn left to hike towards Hogsback Village. Soon you’ll pass the Historic Hogsback Inn* on your right, and then you’ll be back at the main road.

39 Steps Waterfall in Hogsback

39 Steps Waterfall in Hogsback
On a hike to the 39 Steps Waterfall in Hogsback

Turn right, and you’ll come to your car. It’s an extra roughly 1.5 km in total to walk from here to the final waterfall, 39 Steps Waterfall, on this hike around Hogsback. This waterfall is at the end of Hogsback Arboretum, a lovely little park. Continuing along the main road, you’ll see the signs for the Arboretum on your right after the SaveMor.

Head into the Arboretum and then left through the little park, following the signs to 39 Steps Waterfall. The small hiking trail leads first past a mini waterfall and then you reach the main waterfall. It’s called 39 Steps Waterfall because the water runs over rock that has been eroded into steps.

After admiring the view, return the way you came and back to your car. This is the end of the Hogsback Waterfalls Hike.

Guidebooks to explore more of South Africa

Check out Mountain Zebra National Park nearby, or find more hikes in South Africa, see our South Africa Hiking Guide.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *