The first gravel road linking George and Knysna was laid in the 1860’s along a rough wagon trail. The road remained the principal route between the towns until the trunk road was built after the Second World War. The modern road follows the coast, while the old road, known as the Passes Route, runs inland. It is a delightful 82 kilometre drive through lushly forested areas.
Where the route crosses the Swart River it rises to a pass through the forest, then winds from a plateau to the Kaaimans ‘crocodile’ River and the bridge over the Silver River. At Ginnesville a branch road leads to Wilderness. The ravine crossing of the Touws River (river of the ford) is another of the passes on the Passes Route.
After crossing the Kleinkeur River the old road reaches Woodville forest station. A permit can be obtained here to explore a circular drive to Bergplaats and Kleinplaat forestry stations.
The Passes Route again crosses the Swart River and climbs to a plateau beyond Karatara, where there is another forestry station. East of Karatara River, is Barrington, with the forestry reserve of Farleigh to its north.
The road now enters the forest of the Homtini Pass and winds to the bottom of the turbulent Homtini River gorge.
Beyond the eastern summit of the pass a turn-off leads to the abandoned gold town of Millwood.
The road forks again after passing the forestry settlement of Rheenendal and the left-hand gravel road leads through the Phantom Pass to a steep but easy road from which glorious views of the Knysna River valley can be seen.