Springside Nature Reserve

My family moved to Hillcrest from Dundee in 1987 and I attended Hillcrest High School. I got married in 1994 and my husband and I stayed in New Germany, then moved to Cape Town and then moved to a rented place in Kloof KZN. We then bought a house in 2002 in Kloof. Both of my children attended Hillcrest High School.

Now the reason I am telling you all of this, is that ………. in all that time, over all those years………I had never, NEVER visited the Springside Nature Reserve. I spent 9 years driving past it – 9 years!

That changed on Sunday 25 April 2021 when my husband and I woke up early, put on our takkies (yip they are takkies) and arrived at the reserve just after its 7:30am opening. We were the very first people there which was wonderful as we could walk without wearing our masks.


Springside Nature Reserve
Entrance to Springside Nature Reserve


Before I say what route we took and what we thought of the reserve it would be good to start with a little bit of history of Springside Nature Reserve and who is in charge of its upkeep.


Springside Nature Reserve
Trail routes


“Springside Nature Reserve was proclaimed in 1948 and is a 20ha of rich biodiversity: forest, grassland and wetland.  The forested areas provide shelter, nesting sites and food for many bird species; the grassland nurtures a multitude of indigenous wildflowers; and the natural wetland, among the few remaining in KZN, filters the stream, conserves water in droughts and reduces flood damage, whilst sustaining a vital wildlife habitat.

A start was made in October 1975 when volunteers planted 5000 indigenous trees and trails were laid out.  In July 1982 a group of residents backed by Hillcrest Town Board, mainly from Rotary and Lions Clubs, Scout Group, the Wildlife Society, Primary and High Schools, formed a Steering Committee to manage the Reserve.

A Constitution was adopted in 1987, detailing the management powers of the Committee as a sub-committee of Hillcrest Town Board.  The current Hillcrest Conservancy committee of volunteers, together with eThekwini Department of Natural Resources, continues to ensure the preservation of this valuable natural asset for all to enjoy..

In 1994, the toilet block was built with assistance from the Rotary Club of Hillcrest and a Resource Centre was “kick-started” with a  donation from the Rotary Club of Hillcrest.  Building commenced in 1995 and was named the Kingfisher Centreincorporating the Malachite Kingfisher from the Rotary Club of Hillcrest logo.

In 2005 the Analematic Sundial was built by the Rotary Club of Hillcrest to commemorate the Centennial milestone of Rotary International.  

Hillcrest Conservancy is a group of volunteers who strive to observe and become involved with all environmental issues in order to meaningfully contribute to good conservation practice in co-operation with any relevant authorities. Hillcrest Conservancy encompasses the area from Acutts Drive in the north and the M13 in the south, the ridge above West Riding, Kassier Road on the west and Ashley Drive on the east, including Springside Nature Reserve, an ecologically critical green lung which runs through Hillcrest Park.”


Springside Nature Reserve has 5 trails : River (1.1km), Tanglewood (2km), Protea (1.8km), Forest (820m) and Umdoni (2.2km). My husband and I decided to walk the Protea trail. We made a brief stop to try out the Analematic Sundial – it actually works! The pole was placed for the date and it showed that it was 8am. We also took a brief look at the river before we continued on the chosen trail.


Springside Nature Reserve
Analematic Sundial


Springside Nature Reserve


Springside Nature Reserve


Springside Nature Reserve


It was such a beautiful morning and fortunately not too hot for walking. The Protea trail leads through a forested area, across a few bridges and loops around back to the car park. The route is 1.8km long but we walked more than that when we made a wrong turn and ended up on a dead end which we had to backtrack to the trail. We stopped twice to sit on benches so that we could catch our breath and appreciate the views.


Springside Nature Reserve


It was such an enjoyable walk and the reserve is very well maintained. We were already talking about returning to walk the River trail whilst we were walking the Protea trail. I think the next time that we visit we should pack a picnic as the reserve also has a lovely picnic and braai area.


Springside Nature Reserve
Picnic and braai area


Does the Springside Nature Reserve have mammals? Yes it has a few small mammals. For a full Species List look on the Website

Location : 93 Springside Road, Hillcrest

Days : Monday to Sunday

Times : 7:30am to 3pm

Cost : Free, but visitors are requested to make a donation of R20 per adult. This can be inserted into the slot on the front wall of the Kingfisher Centre or paid via Zapper.

Are they dog friendly? : NO dogs or other pets are allowed

Recommendations : Closed shoes, long pants, hat, water bottle, sunscreen and mozzie spray. Walking stick if you have.

Enquiries:   e-mail: hillcrestconservancy@gmail.com

Up-dates are posted on Facebook.

Social media : Facebook


Author: Nicola Meyer

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