The Paradise Valley Nature Reserve, 100 hectares of coastal and remnant grassland, boasts one of the two national monuments to be found in Pinetown – The Umbilo Waterworks, which were built in 1887. All four of the trails in the reserve start at the Interpretive Centre and head down through the picnic area.
It takes about 20 minutes to reach the waterfall and another half an hour for the return. Cross the wonderful old wooden bridge at the bottom of the picnic area and follow the blue trail markers. On the other side of the river, where the trail splits, keep left on the Waterfall trail (the trail to the right is the Duiker trail). The trail goes through some large strelitzias, better known as wild bananas.
Walking downstream on the right bank of the Umbilo River, you soon pass a bridge, where the Bushbuck trail comes in from the left. A little further on, you come upon the remnants of the historic old dam wall, beyond which there’s a beautiful flat rock, which makes a perfect picnic spot. Further down, you pass some historical filter tanks before walking under the N3 freeway. The Duiker trail comes in from the right; ignore this for now but make a mental note that you need to return to this point after seeing the falls.
The waterfall’s viewing platform is just beyond the turn off to the Duiker trail. It’s worth taking the stone steps to the bottom of the falls, where there’s a large pool, but don’t be tempted to swim there; the Umbilo River is not known for its water quality. Turn back on the same track to where the Duiker trail cuts in and follow the yellow markers from there. The trail passes a small pond and the historical waterworks slipway. When it reaches the huge yellowwood tree, the path curves right and takes you back to the wooden bridge where you started.
The Paradise Valley Nature Reserve, 100 hectares of coastal and remnant grassland