The Cradock and George Peak hike is one of the most stunning yet grueling trails out there. The views from the top of Cradocks peak, some 1579 meters up, are absolutely amazing and well worth the journey. But bear in mind that said journey is not for the faint-hearted.
How Far is It?
For a seasoned hiker or relatively fit person, the distance is not far. To complete just the George Peak trail you would be covering about 17 km. Should you choose to simply do the Cradock Peak hike, the total distance would be roughly 19 km. And if you go up and decide to make the quick pop over to George Peak before continuing to also reach Cradock peak you would be covering about 21km.
The main trail up is the same for both until you reach a point, very close to the top of George Peak, which is like a little dip between the two peaks with something of a T-junction feel to it. Once you have reached this point the rest of the route to George peak is relatively easy. So, if you intend on making it to Cradock Peak, I definitely recommend popping over to see George Peak before continuing up. Just be sure to start early, giving yourself enough time to do both peaks if you can.
How Long Will It Take?
Time-wise, if your group is fit and healthy you can budget between seven and eight hours to hike to both Cradock and George Peak. If you consider yourself average in fitness but maybe not someone who gets their body moving regularly, then give yourself about eight hours and see what the time is when you get to the T-junction. You may need to consider just completing George Peak. Because although you might think it’s less than two kilometers up to Cradock, it is a pretty hectic incline and could take much longer than you realise.
There is also a marker on the way up, well before the T-junction, which tells you that if you have reached it after two pm you should consider turning back. Lest you get stuck in the dark.
Now, if you are a relatively active person but not necessarily a big hiker, and are thinking 20 odd kilometers is really not that far, don’t be fooled! The incline is where the catch comes in. Cradock Peak is a whopping 1579m above sea level, and George Peak is 1337m above sea level. And if your muscles and joints are not used to a steep incline and decline then you are going to really feel it. And to be honest, there isn’t much of a break from the incline on the way up.
From most of the starting points, it begins with an acceptable uphill through the trees. But once you have reached a certain level the path becomes very steep. Not so much that you will need to go on your hands and knees. But enough to make you want to. Having said that, just before Cradock Peak, there is a very short section of almost vertical rock climbing that takes you up the final level. It is not very hard or technical but you will want to keep your wits about you as there isn’t much pathway to fall backward onto.
Should you make it all the way, the view from the top of Cradock Peak is worth every drop of sweat. With a view that, on a clear day, spans over 150 km across, one really feels on top of the world.
On the way down, I recommend taking it slow. This is where you will need to take it easy for the sake of your joints and especially your knees. Enjoy the view, take it slow, and try to tread lightly. Be sure to use both legs an equal amount. For example, avoid stepping down onto the same leg repeatedly. Otherwise, the joints on one side will take more strain than the other. And trust me, by the time you start hitting the bottom again, you will really be feeling the impact of the downhill on your joints.
What to Wear
Assuming that you don’t have any conditions which require a special shoe or support of some kind, you won’t need any special clothing or gear for this hike. Just a good comfortable pair of closed shoes that you know can take you the distance. And comfortable clothing. Most people prefer to hike in more durable cargo-style pants. However, I found that when I did this hike in more stretchy mobile-friendly pants I was better off. There is a lot of high leg lifting to climb up steps, and not being hindered by stiffer pants made a big difference to me. But at the end of the day, it is about what is comfortable for you.
There are two other factors that are very important to note. Firstly, once you have left the trees towards the bottom there is almost no shade along the hike. So you will want to take a hat and be conscious of sun protection when choosing your clothing. Secondly, it is not going to be the same temperature 1500 meters up. So take a little something warm just in case. Depending on the time of year you may not need it, but you could be surprised.
Take Enough Water!
You can take cameras, snacks, first aid kits, or whatever you wish along on the hike. But whatever you do, don’t forget to take enough water. There is little to no water for most of the hike. And due to the steep incline, you are going to be sweating and will need it.
The Cradock and George Peak hike is a medium to hard trail for the average person. Yet, regardless of your fitness level, I would recommend giving this hike a try. Even if you only get halfway, the views are stunning, and (to be honest) I find the intense incline revitalizing. Your mind tends to let go of anything else that may be causing stress, and simply focus on getting up the mountain. Having said that, if you are not used to steep inclines and declines, consider a little conditioning before the time. Yet, although it is steep, the path itself is still relatively easy to navigate. So no need to worry about any special gear. Just be sure to take some sun protection and enough water. And give yourself enough time to get back down the mountain.