From leisurely rambles to invigorating hikes, Cape Town has something for everyone.

Whether you’re after a windswept coastal wander, a mountainous hike with spectacular views, or a leisurely amble through one of the Cape’s lush nature reserves, here’s our pick of the best hiking trails in and around the city. So, lace up your hiking boots and get cracking… And, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Important note Although the Cape is rich in natural beauty, tourists and locals are urged to take necessary precautions when exploring secluded areas, as crimes and accidents do happen.
Those venturing into the Table Mountain National Park should have the following emergency numbers on hand: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700. Criminal incidents should be reported to the nearest police station as soon as able.
We also recommend @safetymountain as a useful resource for hikers. This free safety tracking service allows you to notify local trackers of your contact details, intended route and travel time via whatsapp. You are then able to provide hourly updates on your progress, and to notify trackers when you are safely off the mountain.

It helps to have a map, and for that, SANParks and The Inside Guide recommends Slingsby Maps as an essential resource for hiking enthusiasts. Detailed maps of some of the Cape’s best hiking trails are available, including the Pipe Track, Cape Point and the Cederberg. Contact Slingsby Maps at 021 788 4545 for more information.

Hiking Trails in Cape Town

These hikes are within easy reach of town, and will take you far above the bustle of city life.

1. LION’S HEAD

Hiking Tails Cape Town Lions Head

The distinct slope next to Table Mountain known as Lion’s Head offers magnificent views of the city, Table Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, making it a top spot for Instagrammers.
Starting and ending point Signal Hill Road, at the base of the Forestry Road.
Duration 2 – 3 hours
Need to know You will have to do some climbing, however there are handholds and chains to assist you. If, like me, you’d prefer to avoid the climbing, a roundabout route (that’s still quite steep) adds half an hour to your hike.
Child-friendly? Yes, although they’ll probably want to avoid the climbing chains (and rock scrambling near the end of the trail)
Dog-friendly? No
Contact 021 422 1601 (Kloofnek Office)
021 712 0527, Table.Mountain@sanparks.org
TMNP emergency numbers: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700
Location Lions Head

2. PLATTEKLIP GORGE

Hiking Tails Cape Town Platterklip Gorge

Probably the second most well-known hiking trail in Cape Town (after Lion’s Head), Platteklip is not so easygoing, despite its popularity. Sure, there’s not much climbing or scrambling involved, but there’s a lot of upward walking, which probably makes it the ideal route for a workout. It provides a direct route to the summit of Table Mountain, for those who think taking the cable car is for lightweights.
Starting point Tafelberg Road
End point Upper Cableway Station
Duration 3 hours, though some ridiculously fit people have been known to run up the trail in an hour.
Need to know Platteklip is best avoided on a hot day, as there is little shade to be found along the trail.
Be prepared for all types of weather, and bring a hat, sunblock and jacket.
Proper hiking shoes are required; do not attempt this trail with slip-slops.
If you plan to take the cable car down, make note of operational times and ensure you reach the station before the last cable car leaves.
Important note SANParks has informed us that many rescues are performed at this site, as people underestimate the heat and the level of fitness required, or they miss the last cable car and end up stranded on the mountain at night. Please take the necessary precautions.
Child-friendly? Yes, although take note of the above.
Dog-friendly? Bringing dogs is not recommended on this trail, as they struggle in the heat.
Contact 021 712 0527, Table.Mountain@sanparks.org
TMNP emergency numbers: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700
Location Table Mountain National Park

3. THE PIPE TRACK

Hiking Tails Cape Town Pipe Track

This trail is not only mesmerisingly beautiful, it also has an interesting history, in that it was built for the purpose of servicing a pipeline that used to supply 19th-century Cape Town with water from the Disa Gorge, hence its name…
Starting point The junction of Tafelberg Road and Kloof Nek (you can park your car in the Kloof Nek parking lot)
End point Camps Bay
Duration 4 hours. The route is easygoing, although it becomes slightly tougher after passing by Slangolie Ravine.
Good to know There are a number of trails that lead off the Pipe Track, but these should not be attempted without the assistance of a knowledgeable guide. Many of these trails are not beginner-friendly, and they are not recommended for children or dogs.
If you do have a guide, it’s recommended to visit Tranquility Cracks, a hidden gem that Capetonian hikers have only recently discovered. These are narrow, labyrinthine tunnels through the rock, formed naturally through erosion.
Need to know The Pipe Track can be tough on hot days, as large portions of it are exposed to the afternoon sun.
Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? Yes, although the Table Mountain National Park is under the jurisdiction of SANParks, which requires that dog-walkers have a Level 1 My Activity Permit (R270 for a year). Contact Tokai Plantation Office (021 712 7471) for more information.
Contact 021 712 0527, Table.Mountain@sanparks.org
TMNP emergency numbers: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700
Location Table Mountain National Park

4. MACLEAR’S BEACON

Hiking Tails Cape Town Maclears Beacon

At 21 metres above the Upper Cableway Station, Maclear’s Beacon is the highest point on Table Mountain. Plaques at the Upper Cableway Station point you towards the beginning of the hike, and from thereon the trail is marked by yellow footprints. If you do the Platteklip and Maclear’s Beacon trails in one go, then you can truly say you hiked from the bottom of Table Mountain to the very top.
Starting point Upper Cableway Station
End point Maclear’s Beacon
Duration 1 hour
Need to know SANParks does not recommend attempting this trail in cloudy or misty weather, as it becomes more difficult to find your way in such conditions.
Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? No
Contact 021 712 0527, Table.Mountain@sanparks.org
TMNP emergency numbers: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700
Location Table Mountain National Park

5. TYGERBERG NATURE RESERVE

Hiking Trails Cape Town Tygerberg

Hidden among the hills in Cape Town’s northern suburbs, this lush haven offers an easy escape from Bellville’s urban sprawl. Blessed with a rich diversity of plant and bird life, the 388-hectare Tygerberg Nature Reserve offers spectacular views of city, sea and mountain.
Well-marked hiking trails wind their way throughout the reserve, in some cases climbing up hills that offer unrivalled panoramic views of Cape Town. Table Mountain and Robben Island are both visible from this vantage point and, in clear conditions, you’ll be able to see the False Bay coastline.
Good to know Tygerberg Nature Reserve’s network of walking routes includes a wheelchair-friendly trail, close to the picnic area.
Starting and end point Tygerberg Nature Reserve entrance
Duration Varies
Need to know Be sure to take plenty of water, as the more rigorous trails can be quite testing. You’ll want to pack warm clothing in winter, as it gets quite chilly up top.
Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? No
Cost R15 (adults)
R8 (under 18s, senior citizens, students)
Free (children under 3, Friends of the Reserve with proof of membership)
Contact 021 444 8971, tygerberg.naturereserve@capetown.gov.za
Location Tygerberg Nature Reserve, Totius Road, Welgemoed

6. KASTEELPORT HIKING TRAIL

Hiking Trails Cape Town Kasteelspoort

We love the Kasteelspoort Hiking Trail for its easy access to the mountain, and suitability to all fitness levels. Not to mention the the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, Twelve Apostles, and Camps Bay. There are several paths leading to different points – such as the old Cableway Station and the two reservoirs – making each trek a different adventure.
Starting point Top of Theresa Avenue, Camps Bay / Top of Kloof Nek Road
End point Top of Table Mountain / The Woodhead and Helly-Hutchinson Reservoirs
Duration 3 – 4 hours
Need to know While the path is shady in places, it’s best get started in the early morning, and to bring a hat and plenty of water. There is a short section at the foot of Kasteels buttress that requires a certain level of scrambling over rocks, and Kasteelspoort Ravine can be quite slippery (especially after rain), so bring good, gripping shoes and be cautious.
Child-friendly? This trail is not recommended for children or novice hikers, as rock scrambling can be quite challenging at certain points.
Dog-friendly? No
Contact 021 712 0527, Table.Mountain@sanparks.org
TMNP emergency numbers: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700
Location  Table Mountain National Park

7. DEVIL’S PEAK

Hiking Trails Cape Town Devils Peak

Aside from having a really cool name, Devil’s Peak offers numerous vantage points for gazing out upon the cityscape as it stretches from the bay to the foot of the mountain. It’s especially exhilarating to walk along the Saddle – the point that connects Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain; and from there you can ascend to the summit, where you’ll be rewarded with incredible panoramic views of Cape Town.
There are three possible routes to the Saddle, with the Tafelberg Road route being best suited to beginners. The Mowbray Ridge route, which starts at Rhodes Memorial, is considered a more tricky ascent; while the Newlands Ravine is challenging but well shaded.
Good to know Legend tells of a Dutch pirate named Jan Van Hunks, who liked to sit upon the mountain and smoke his pipe every so often. One day he came upon a stranger dressed in black, sitting in his usual spot. The stranger, whose face was hidden beneath a wide-brimmed hat, challenged Van Hunks to a contest to see who could smoke his pipe the longest. As the two of them puffed away, a huge cloud of smoke covered the mountain like a tablecloth. Van Hunks finally admitted defeat, only for his opponent to reveal his true identity: he was none other than the devil himself.
So when you see clouds billowing over Devil’s Peak, remember the tale of Van Hunks. Perhaps he is in his usual spot, together with the devil, the two of them puffing away at their pipes for all eternity.
Starting point and end point Tafelberg Road / Rhodes Memorial / Newlands Forest
Duration 4 hours
Need to know Hold onto your hats, it gets windy up top.
Child-friendly? No
Dog-friendly? Yes, although the Table Mountain National Park is under the jurisdiction of SANParks, which requires that dog-walkers have a Level 1 My Activity Permit (R270 for a year). Contact Tokai Plantation Office (021 712 7471) for more information.
Contact 021 712 0527, Table.Mountain@sanparks.org
TMNP emergency numbers: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700
Location  Table Mountain National Park

8. SKELETON GORGE

Hiking Trails Cape Town Skeleton Gorge

This hike basically takes you from one side of Table Mountain to the other. Starting off in the the serene Kirstenbosch Gardens, you will arrive at the steep ascent of Skeleton Gorge where indigenous trees provide shade. Along the way, you’ll encounter a stream, typical mountain fynbos and some interesting rock formations before arriving at Maclear’s Beacon – the highest point on Table Mountain. Take a rest and enjoy panoramic views of the city and Robben Island.
Starting point Kirstenbosch Gardens
End point Maclear’s Beacon
Duration 2 – 4 hours (depending on your level of fitness)
Good to know Nursery Ravine provides an easier alternative route that also joins up with the Skeleton Gorge trail at certain points. This makes them a popular pairing, with one trail being used for ascent and the other (preferably Nursery Ravine) being used for descent.
Need to know This is a long hike with ladders to assist climbers to the top, and a rockfall to overcome, meaning you have to be extremely fit. Parts of the gorge can be quite slippery, even during summer. It’s recommended to avoid this route during and immediately after heavy rainfall.
Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? No
Contact 021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)
TMNP emergency numbers: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700
021 799 8899, Kirstenboschinfo@sanbi.org.za (Kirstenbosch)
Location Kirstenbosch

9. CHAPMAN’S PEAK

Hiking Trails Cape Town Chapmans Peak

Its (relatively) short distance and effortless terrain make this a popular trail. Starting at the toll booths, it offers great vantages of the the Fish Hoek and Hout Bay valleys, as well as Cape Point, Karbonkelberg and Klein Leeukoppie.
Starting and end point Chapman’s Peak toll booths
Duration 1 – 2 hours
Need to know You will need to get a day pass (request one at the toll booth, there is no charge) for safe parking and access to the hiking trail. Also, remember to take a warm top – Cape weather is unpredictable.
Child-friendly Yes
Dog-friendly? Yes, although the Table Mountain National Park is under the jurisdiction of SANParks, which requires that dog-walkers have a Level 1 My Activity Permit (R270 for a year). Contact Tokai Plantation Office (021 712 7471) for more information.
Contact 021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)
021 791 8220, info@chapmanspeakdrive.co.za (Chapman’s Peak Drive)
TMNP emergency numbers: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700
Location Chapman’s Peak Drive

10. CONSTANTIA NEK TO KIRSTENBOSCH

Hiking Trails Cape Town Constantia Nek Kirstenbosch

A relatively easy walk on a dirt road and wooden track, it consists mainly of mild uphill sections, but is mostly downhill and flat. Along the way you will enjoy the greenery of Cecilia and Newlands forests and vast views of the slopes of Table Mountain, an aerial perspective of Kirstenbosch, and even views as far as the Cape Flats.
Starting point Constantia Nek
End point Kirstenbosch Gardens
Duration 2 hours
Need to know Guided walks can be booked in advance, and arranged to suit your interests and needs.
Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? Dogs are not allowed in Kirstenbosch Gardens
Contact 021 712 0527, Table.Mountain@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)
021 799 8899, Kirstenboschinfo@sanbi.org.za (Kirstenbosch)
TMNP emergency numbers: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700
Location Kirstenbosch

Hiking Trails around the Cape

1. JONKERSHOEK NATURE RESERVE

Hiking Trails Cape Town Jonkershoek

This lush nature reserve, situated near the historic town of Stellenbosch, offers four challenging hiking trails, including the invigorating Swartboskloof Trail, which ascends to the top of Kurktrekkernek, and then back down past a waterfall, where you can take a refreshing dip. Alternatively, you could take the more easygoing Swartboskloof to Sosyskloof hike.
Starting and end point Jonkershoek Nature Reserve
Duration Swartboskloof to Sosykloof: 2 – 2.5 hours
Swartboskloof Trail: 6 hours
Panorama Circuit: 6 hours
Tweede Waterval: 2 hours
Need to know Some of the paths can be quite slippery when wet, so tread carefully.
All CapeNature reserves require visitors to purchase a permit before they can access any of the hiking trails. Contact CapeNature to book your permits, or acquire them at the reserve office.
Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? No
Cost CapeNature Permit: R40 (adults); R20 (children)
Contact 021 483 0190, reservation.alert@capenature.co.za
Location Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Jonkershoek Road, Stellenbosch

2. BOBBEJAANS RIVER TRAIL

Hiking Trails Cape Town Bbobbejaans

Situated in the scenic Limietberg Nature Reserve, this trail takes you above the river that gives it its name, eventually ending at a majestic waterfall. Along the way you’ll cross the Witte River, where you can take a refreshing dip in its cool waters.
Good to know There are several other hiking trails in the Limietberg Nature Reserve, including a two-day overnight trail. It’s also the location of the Tweede Tol campsite.
Starting and end point Bainskloof Corner Lodge parking area
Duration 6 hours
Need to know The trail is not recommended during winter, as the Witte River can become quite rough following heavy rainfall.
All CapeNature reserves require visitors to purchase a permit before they can access any of the hiking trails. Contact CapeNature to book your permits, or acquire them at the reserve office.
Child-friendly? Suitable for teenagers, if they are fit.
Dog-friendly? No
Cost CapeNature Permit: R40 (adults); R20 (children)
Contact 021 808 5121 (Tweede Tol campsite)
082 494 9707 (emergency number)
021 483 0190, reservation.alert@capenature.co.za (booking enquiries)
Location Bainskloof Corner Lodge, Limietberg Nature Reserve

3. PAARL ROCK

Hiking Trails Cape Town Paarl RockHiking Trails Cape Town Paarl Rock

This hiking trail takes you to the top of a large granite rock that looms above the Paarl Mountain Reserve, offering views of flourishing fynbos fields and the mountains beyond. From here, it’s a short hike to the summit of a second, even larger rock formation known as Bretagna Rock, and along the way you’ll spot a cannon that was once used to signal the arrival of ships in Table Bay.
Feel free to explore the numerous footpaths that wind their way throughout the beautiful reserve and, once you’re done, reward yourself with a relaxing packed lunch in the picnic area.
Starting and end point Meulwater Day Braai and Picnic Site, Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve
Duration 2 hours
Child-friendly? Yes, although keep in mind that there are sections that are not suitable for prams, such as the rocky stairs. Prams can only be used if you are taking the jeep track to the top.
Dog-friendly? No
Cost R52 per vehicle
R17 per passenger (on weekends and public holidays)
Free (weekdays)
Contact 082 744 5900 / 082 335 0461, louiseR@drakenstein.gov.za
Location Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve, 6 Jan Phillips Mountain Drive, Paarl

4. JASON’S HILL HIKING ROUTE

Hiking Trails Cape Town Jasons Hill

Not only does Jason’s Hill Private Cellar produce multi-award-winning wines, it also boasts a hiking route with enchanting scenery, straggling streams, wondrous waterfalls and abundant wildlife – all of which nature lovers can experience firsthand. The 6.5km trail departs from Jason’s Hill between 8am and 1pm – every Monday to Friday – and between 10am and 1pm on Saturdays.
Starting and end point Jason’s Hill Private Cellar
Duration 3 – 4 hours
Child-friendly? Yes, although children under 18 require parental supervision.
Dog-friendly? Dogs are not permitted on the hiking trail, although there are dogs on the farm who may decide to join.
Cost R30
Contact 023 344 3256, info@jasonshill.co.za
Location Jason’s Hill Private Cellar, Slanghoek Road, Slanghoek Valley, Rawsonville

5. MACASSAR DUNES

Hiking Trails Cape Town Macassar Dunes
Caleb Langton

Follow in the footsteps of the ancient San people, who lived and foraged along this coastline centuries ago. The Massacar Dunes Conservation Area has a rich biodiversity and, as the name implies, a mesmerising landscape of windswept sand dunes. Also to be found within the reserve: the last remaining forest of the endangered white milkwood trees.
Starting and end point Macassar Road, off Baden Powell Drive
Duration Your choice
Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? No
Contact 021 400 3855, macassar.reserve@capetown.gov.za
Location Macassar Road, Macassar / Baden Powell Drive, Khayelitsha

6. CRYSTAL POOLS

Hiking Trails Cape Town Crystal Pools

This hiking trail is very doable for anyone who is reasonably fit, and slightly challenging for those who are not. The rockpools along the way, where you can cool down during your walk, make it well worth the slog. The half-day hike takes you through rocky, but generally flat, terrain, and all the way at the top is a wonderful waterfall. But it is quite a trek, so make sure you have plenty of snacks, water and energy to get there.
Starting and end point Steenbras Nature Reserve entrance
Duration 3 hours
Need to know The trail is only open from 1 November to 30 April.
Child-friendly? Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.
Dog-friendly? No
Cost R65 per person (valid until June 2018)
Contact 021 444 6927, steenbras.naturereserve@capetown.gov.za
Bookings must be done via email, at least two working days before your visit
Emergency number: 021 957 4725
Location Faure Marine Drive R44, Steenbras Nature Reserve

7. FARMERS CLIFFS TRAIL

Hiking Trails Cape Town Famers Cliffs

This easy-to-follow 8km stone path boasts fantastic views that cannot be seen from a car (so take your smartphone or camera with you). The path winds up and down at various points, with some rock climbing (or boulder hopping if you prefer), with only the calls of the chacma baboons breaking the silence. Once at Buffels Bay beach you’ll find a tidal pool, ablution block and braai area.
Starting point Smitswinkel Viewpoint parking area
End point Buffels Bay beach in Cape Point Nature Reserve
Duration 3 hours
Good to know Take two cars and leave on at Buffels Bay, and take the other to the starting point at Smitswinkel Viewpoint, otherwise you’ll have a long walk there and back in the hot sun.
Need to know There isn’t much shade, so be sure to wear sunblock, bring a hat and plenty of water. 
Child-friendly? Yes, but it is a very long hike for children to do.
Dog-friendly? No
Cost Entry into Cape Point: R145 (adults); R75 (children)
Contact 021 712 0527, Table.Mountain@sanparks.org
021 780 9010, info@capepoint.co.za (Cape Point)
Location Cape Point Nature Reserve

8. CAPE POINT NATURE RESERVE

Hiking Trails Cape Town Cape Point

Cape Point is a landform at the southeast corner of the Cape Peninsula, which runs north-south for about 30 kilometres at the extreme southwestern tip of Africa, and is often (mistakenly) cited as the point where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. There are a number of trails, ranging from two-hour to two-day hikes. The scenery along the way is diverse, and includes fynbos and fauna, shipwrecks, whales and vast stretches of empty beaches.
Starting and end point Varies
Duration 2 hours – 2 days (your choice)
Cost Entry into Cape Point: R145 (adults) and R75 (child)
Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? No
Contact 021 712 0527, Table.Mountain@sanparks.org
021 780 9010, info@capepoint.co.za (Cape Point)
Location Cape Point Nature Reserve

9. BOESMANSKLOOF

Hiking Trails Cape Town Boesmanskloof

How convenient are mountain passes! Back in the day, if there was a mountain in the way, you’d have to walk over it! Jokes aside, this hike allows you to do exactly that. Where travellers would normally have to drive around the Riviersonderend mountain range to get from Greyton to McGregor, the Boesmanskloof trail takes you right through it, passing by the beautiful Oakes Falls on the way and granting you the opportunity to spot a variety of mountain-dwelling flora and fauna.
Starting point Greyton / McGregor
End point McGregor / Greyton
Duration 6 – 7 hours
Need to know The trail can be hiked in one day, but you will need to arrange transport back to your starting point (whether it be Greyton or McGregor). Or you could just return via the same route the following day.
All CapeNature reserves require visitors to purchase a permit before they can access any of the hiking trails. Contact CapeNature to book your permits, or acquire them at the reserve office.
Child-friendly? No, as the trail terrain is quite strenuous
Dog-friendly? No
Cost CapeNature Permit: R40 (adults); R20 (children)
Contact 023 625 1621 (reserve office)
082 496 2448 (emergency number)
021 483 0190, reservation.alert@capenature.co.za (booking enquiries)
Location Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve, Reitz Street (off Robertson Road), R60, Robertson

10. KOGELBERG TRAIL

Hiking Trails Cape Town Kogelberg

Rich plant life, majestic mountain peaks and the cool waters of the Palmiet River make the Kogelberg Nature Reserve a favoured destination for hikers. The abovementioned trail is a circular route that covers roughly 24 kilometres, as it takes hikers deep into the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Or you could try the Palmiet River Hike, for a more easy-going adventure.
Start and end point Kogelberg Nature Reserve office
Duration 8 hours
Need to know The trail is long, so hikers are advised to start as early as 10am (8am in winter).
All CapeNature reserves require visitors to purchase a permit before they can access any of the hiking trails. Contact CapeNature to book your permits, or acquire them at the reserve office.
Cost CapeNature Permit: R40 (adults); R20 (children)
Child-friendly? No, as the trail is quite long
Dog-friendly? Dogs are not allowed in CapeNature reserves.
Contact 021 851 6982 / 021 851 4060 (reserve office)
082 783 8585 (emergency number)
021 483 0190, reservation.alert@capenature.co.za (booking enquiries)
Location Kogelberg Nature Reserve, R44, Kleinmond

11. KROM RIVER TRAIL

Hiking Trails Cape Town Krom River

This noncircular route in the Limietberg Nature Reserve crosses two rivers before it reaches the Krom River waterfall and pool. Follow the white boot prints (painted on rocks along the ravine) for breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, and into a fairytale-like indigenous forest. Once through the Worcester exit of the Huguenot Tunnel, take the first road on your left to the parking lot.
Starting point Follow the Krom River signs
Good to know There are several other hiking trails in the Limietberg Nature Reserve, including a two-day overnight trail. It’s also the location of the Tweede Tol campsite.
Duration Around 5 hours
Need to know The trail is closed during winter.
All CapeNature reserves require visitors to purchase a permit before they can access any of the hiking trails. Contact CapeNature to book your permits, or acquire them at the reserve office.
Child-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? No
Cost CapeNature Permit: R40 (adults); R20 (children)
Contact 021 808 5121 (Tweede Tol campsite)
082 494 9707 (emergency number)
021 483 0190, reservation.alert@capenature.co.za (booking enquiries)
Location Limietberg Nature Reserve, 267 Main Street, Esterville, Paarl

 

Source: insideguide.co.za

The Cape has so many amazing hiking trails that it can be difficult to pick one! We have done the research for you so that you have all the relevant information at your fingertips and can go ahead and choose the one most suited to you.

Please make wise choices… as some hikes are for experienced hikers and should not be ever done on your own. Rather do them in a group for safety purposes and pack rain gear or a jersey as the weather can change quickly on a mountain. Be sure to pack at least 1 litre of water, some snacks and some kind of sun protection, which is essential.

Table Mountain Hikes

Hiking Up Table Mountain Via Platteklip Gorge

photo of the city of cape town
THE PLATTEKLIP GORGE PATH IS ABOUT 3KM LONG

@hike_table_mountain

The Table Mountain cable car is the easiest way to ascend to the top of Table Mountain – the glorious natural heritage site that looms above Cape Town’s city bowl. If you seek a sense of accomplishment and physical exhilaration then ascending to the top via Platteklip Gorge is a must.

The hike begins about 1.6km after the cable car station (to the left) on Tafelberg Road and is well signposted all the way to the top.

Although it is the easiest way to climb to the top of Table Mountain, it is physically taxing, although not requiring much mountaineering skills. The 3km long trail rises by 700m and is a relentless and steep gradient to climb. Only attempt this hike if you are confident that your fitness levels will allow you to ascend at a fair pace.

It is essential to take plenty of water with you on this hike as you’re exposed to the sun for the duration of the hike and you’re not going to find any water on the mountain. You should also pack something warm in your hiking bag as the temperature often decreases by 6 to 8°C once you reach the summit.

The hike will reward you with a stunning panorama of Cape Town as you look down onto the CBD and Camps Bay. You have three choices once you reach the top of Table Mountain:

  • Take the cable car down,
  • Take in the views and return down via Platteklip Gorge,
  • Proceed to hike even further along the multitude of hiking trails.

None of the routes on the top of the mountain require much skill and can actually be regarded as leisurely walks. The most prominent one would be the walk to Maclear’s Beacon which affords you a stunning view of the Cape Flats and Table Bay.

  • Location:
    • 1.6km after the Cable Car Station
  • Distance:
    • 3km (take the cable car down)
  • Elevation:
    • Very steep, climbs 950m
    • It is fairly strenuous but well-marked
  • Estimated Time:
    • 3 – 4 hours
  • General Contact:
    • +27 (021) 712 0527
  • SANParks Emergency Number:
    • +27 (0)21 957 4700
  • Map:

Lion’s Head Hike

photo of lion's head mountain peak
ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR HIKES IN THE MOTHER CITY

@jessgrammer

The hike up Lion’s Head is iconic. It is one of the most popular hikes in Cape Town. Its gradient is not as punishing as the climb up Table Mountain and it is arguably a much prettier hike.

This is especially true when you decide to do it at sunrise or sunset. The climb yields some stunning views of the Sea Point area and you also walk through one of the highest concentrations of beautiful Silver Trees, which are endemic to the Cape Peninsula.

The hike is pretty easy to access, even without a car. Cape Town’s transport system will easily get you to Kloof Nek and then it’s a short walk up the road to Signal Hill until you reach a gravel parking area on both sides of the road. You start your ascent via the gravel road, which has a boom.

The popularity of Lion’s Head has fooled many people over the past couple of years as they assume that it is an incredibly easy hike that can be attempted in wholly inadequate footgear, or by relatively unfit people. This has resulted in a few people having to be rescued off of the mountain.

The hike can be deceptively tricky especially if you decide to use the chains to climb the rock face. It is advised to rather use the chains on the return trip if you wish to have a rather exhilarating descent.

An important point to note is that early on you shall encounter a fork in the path. The upper right fork will take you to Lion’s Head. The left hand fork will take you to Lion’s Rump – commonly known as Signal Hill.

You should bring plenty of water along for this hike and make sure to pack warm clothing if you plan to do the sunset hike. Cape Town can get icy once the sun has set, even if you’re hiking.

  • Location:
    • 650m up Signal Hill road
  • Distance:
    • 5km
  • Elevation:
    • 500m, but a gradual slope
    • A fairly easy hike
  • Estimated Time:
    • Roughly 3 hours
  • General Contact:
    • +27 (021) 712 0527
  • SANParks Emergency Number:
    • +27 (0)21 957 4700
  • Map:

Devil’s Peak Hike

photo of devil's peak mountain
DEVIL’S PEAK BLANKETED BY A SEA OF CLOUDS

@gmh__photography

If there is one place in Cape Town shrouded in folklore – it is Devil’s Peak. The legend is that Jan Van Hunks, a regular pipe smoker that lived at the foot of the mountain, was often forced out of the house by his wife when he wanted to smoke.

One day while smoking he met a mysterious man who was also smoking. They ended up bragging about how much they smoked and entered into a pipe-smoking contest. The man turned out to be the Devil and Van Hunks ended up winning the contest. The smoke he produced formed the blanket of cloud that is called the tablecloth cloud when it covers the mountain.

Luckily, you won’t meet the Devil or Van Hunks on the hike to Devil’s Peak. There are two routes to the top. The one is an incredibly easy route that involves parking on Tafelberg Road and taking a hike up to the top.

The other route is the ascent via Mowbray Ridge and the Knife Edge Path. This is reserved for expert hikers. If you want to take on the challenge , then head on over to Rhodes Memorial, as the hike begins there.

Your first landmark is the King’s Blockhouse. Climb up to the concrete reservoir behind the Blockhouse which marks the beginning of the Mowbray Ridge. This is a good place to stop as there is usually fresh drinking water in the reservoir.

Your next landmark is a lookout hut perched on top of the cliff. The only way to get there is to ascend straight up from the reservoir. A faint path shall appear on your right a short while into ascent. Do not take that path as it will not take you to Devil’s Peak.

Take a moment to rest at the lookout and take in the view. Take note of the time, as the next turnoff from the main path you need to take should come up in 15 minutes. Continue along the main path until it starts to zig-zag.

A faint path up should appear on the fifth bend – this is known as the Knife Edge Path. You will need to take this path to get to the final ascent to the summit of Devil’s peak. You could continue along the main path to reach Devil’s Peak, but the Knife Edge Path is much more breath-taking, in terms of aesthetic beauty.

Be warned however,if you’re afraid of heights then this is not the path for you as it features precipitous drops on both sides. This path shall lead you straight to the vertical ascent up Devil’s Peak and onto some stunning views of the city.

You descend via the Saddle between Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain. Upon reaching the Saddle you shall encounter three ravines: Dark Gorge, Newlands Ravine, and Els Ravine. The first and last are reserved for experienced mountaineers as they require ropes. Rather head to the far side of the Saddle and climb up high before turning left – signposts should guide you to the top of the ravine.

You descend from the Newlands Ravine down a contour path which takes you back to the Rhodes Memorial where you can head to the tearoom for a well-deserved cup of tea.

  • Location:
  • Distance:
    • 8.5km from Tafelberg
    • 13km from Rhodes Memorial
  • Elevation:
    • 1260m
    • For experienced hikers
  • Estimated Time:
    • 4 hours excluding breaks
    • Over 5 hours with breaks
  • General Contact:
    • +27 (021) 712 0527
  • SANParks Emergency Number:
    • +27 (0)21 957 4700
  • Map:

Kirstenbosch Hikes

photo of kirstenbosch gardens
FOR AN EYEGASMIC HIKING EXPERIENCE

@firotography

Many hikes in Cape Town either begin in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens or end in Kirstenbosch. You will have to pay an entrance fee for Kirstenbosch regardless of whether you start or end your hike there. The tariffs are as follows:

  • Price:
    • Adults: R60
    • Students: R30
    • Children (6 – 17 years): R15
    • Under 6 years: Free
    • Botanical Society Members: Free
      • (see here for how to join)

The two best hikes are as follows: the hike up Skeleton Gorge and the contour path from Constantia Nek to Kirstenbosch.

  • Map:

Skeleton Gorge

photo of woman at Skeleton Gorge
A STRENUOUS, YET FRIENDLY HIKING EXPERIENCE

@ambersescapades

The hike is incredibly well-maintained due to its constant use and the majority of the hike is well signposted, so there is virtually no chance of getting lost.

It can be a strenuous hike due to its distance and gradient but it doesn’t require much experience, as there are only a few rock scrambles and ladders.

It is best to approach the hike via Skeleton Gorge, as opposed to climbing up Nursery Ravine. Nursery Ravine should rather be used to make the descent.

Nursery Ravine is incredibly steep and can make for a bone-jarring descent that should be done carefully. The rest of the hike is a brief walk along a contour path to get back to the Gardens where you can relax and enjoy one of the most beautiful places in South Africa.

  • Location:
  • Distance:
    • 6.2km
  • Elevation:
    • 930m
    • A strenuous hike but has shade
  • Estimated Time:
    • 3 to 4 hours
  • General Contact:
    • +27 (0)21 799 8783
  • SANParks Emergency Number:
    • +27 (0)21 957 4700
  • Map

Constantia Nek To Kirstenbosch

photo of constantia nek
A VIEW OVERLOOKING THE VALLEY BELOW

@nickjohnh

This hike doesn’t begin in Kirstenbosch but rather at Constantia Nek and ends in Kirstenbosch. It is a favourite early morning hike as you can end it with a lovely breakfast at Kirstenbosch’s restaurant.

The contour path that you follow makes the hike an easy one and is suitable for the entire family. It is fairly lengthy as it takes about 2 hours to do one-way.

It is best to travel in two cars and leave one at Kirstenbosch so that you don’t have to walk back.

The contour path is well-maintained by its constant use. It takes you through a wonderful mixture of indigenous fynbos species and towering invasive trees that form part of the Cecilia Forest plantation. The trail is well-marked and you’ll find yourself leisurely strolling along the trail taking in all of the sights.

  • Location:
  • Distance:
    • 5km
  • Elevation:
    • Relatively flat with a few hills
    • Easy walk for the whole family
  • General Contact:
    • +27 (021) 712 0527
  • SANParks Emergency Number:
    • +27 (0)21 957 4700
  • Map:

Hikes To Waterfalls

The mountainous nature of the Cape Peninsula and our high winter rainfall results in a number of waterfalls around the Cape Town area. They are not as majestic as the Victoria Falls, but are breath-taking nonetheless.

Crystal Pools Hike

photo of crystal pools
ONE OF CAPE TOWN’S MOST SOUGHT AFTER WATERFALL HIKES

@trailblazershikingclub

This one of the most popular waterfall hikes in Cape Town. It is situated in the Kogelbay Biosphere just outside of Gordon’s Bay near the Steenbras River mouth. The hike takes you up to the waterfall that feeds into the Steenbras River.

It is named after the fact that the hike is dotted with a series of pools that allow for an exuberant swimming experience that has made the hike so popular.

Pack in a costume or wear clothing that dries easily. Please do not dive into the pools, as they are quite rocky.

Due to it’s popularity a permit is required for the hike. The trail is limited to 50 people a day and you will need to email the City of Cape Town in order to acquire a permit. The steps are as follows:

  1. E-mail your name, the size of the group, contact number and the date of the hike to steenbras.naturereserve@capetown.gov.za. The minimum group size is 3 and the maximum is 10.
  2. Await confirmation that you have a provisional booking.
  3. Pay the R60 per person via EFT.
  4. Email your proof of payment to the City on the same email address.
  5. Wait for your permit to be emailed to you.

The hike is only open from 1 November to the end of April and as of this publication – the hike is currently fully booked until April.

Hikers wishing to approach this hike should be relatively fit. They must also not be fooled into wearing flip-flops as the hike has some serious rock scrambles. The hike is well-marked by a series of pegs to keep you on track.

  • Location:
  • Distance:
    • 5km
  • Elevation:
    • There are some gradual ascents
    • It is a fairly easy hike but don’t take it lightly
  • Estimated Time:
    • Roughly two hours, but give yourself time to swim
  • Map:

Cecilia Forest Waterfall

This hike is close to Cape Town and the waterfall in question is on the backend of Table Mountain. You hike up through Cecilia Forest – one of Cape Town’s many plantations, to access it.

Much of the plantation has been felled recently and replaced with fynbos, thus enhancing the natural heritage of the area. If you wish to see the trail in its full beauty then do it in spring when the majority of the trail is through flowering fynbos. The only negative aspect is that the initial stage of the hike has a lot of exposure to the sun and it is thus better to do it in the early morning or late afternoon, or on a cool and cloudy day.

The hike requires you to make your way to the edge of Kirstenbosch, along the same contour path that extends from Constantia Nek. Upon reaching the edge, you will encounter a signpost indicating the various routes.

You must take the route that points you towards the Cecilia Ravine via the way of Rooikat Ravine (labelled as Rooikatkloof on the sign). The rest of the hike is a rather steep climb up a series of wooden steps. The exertion is worth seeing the pristine and tranquil waterfall at the end of the hike. Give yourself two hours to do this hike.

  • Location:
  • Distance:
    • roughly 4km
  • Elevation:
    • 460m
    • It is a fairly easy hike
    • One climb for half an hour
  • Estimated Time:
    • About 2 – 3 hours
  • General Contact:
    • +27 (021) 712 0527
  • SANParks Emergency Number:
    • +27 (0)21 957 4700
  • Map:

Krom River Hike

photo of the krom river pass
THE TRIAL IS SITUATED CLOSE TO THE HUGUENOT TUNNEL

@thesecretadventurer

The Krom River Hike is a situated well out of Cape Town after the exit of the Huguenot Tunnel. Look for a small road on the left with an “authorised vehicle only” sign. Just like Crystal Pools, this hike requires a permit to ensure that only a few people can use the trail each day. Booking the permit:

  • Contact Cape Nature on +27 (0)21 483 0190
  • The permit must be booked for at least two people
  • Cost: R30 per person

The hike is well marked and follows the river for a while. You will cross over the river several times before the path takes you up a ravine to a rock pool with a waterfall.

This is one of two rock pools along the hike where you can cool off. The path then continues to a bigger and better rock pool. Remember to pack your costume If you want to swim.

The trail will take you through an incredibly beautiful section of the Boland where you will be able to see some of the hardier species of fynbos that exist within the Cape Floral Kingdom.

There are sparsely dotted trees along the wetter parts of the ravine and you can find disas along the final waterfall if you look close enough.

The hike is often closed during the winter months due to the river overflowing after high rainfall. This hike is best done in summer or spring.

  • Location:
    • Park near the Worcester exit of the Huguenot Tunnel by the “authorised vehicles sign”
  • Distance:
    • 7km
    • A moderate fitness level is needed for this hike
  • Estimated Time:
    • 6 hours
  • Map:

Other Hikes Near Cape Town

Silvermine Nature Reserve

photo of silvermine nature reserve
EXPLORE SILVERMINE NATURE RESERVE WITH FRIENDS

@jackiecapedigital.co.za_

Silvermine is an immensely popular destination for family outings and picnics. It isn’t as far away as Cape Point and the entry fee isn’t as high.

Silvermine has a stunning and easy hiking trail along a gravel road and that takes you on a full circuit of the nature reserve.

You can follow the main road from the parking lot for the duration of the hike, but there are also several trails that fork off from the main path which will take you around the reserve.

Upon leaving the car park, it is best to keep to the left as the right hand track is used on your return. This path will take you below Noordhoek Peak and take you past some truly amazing viewpoints which gives you a bird’s eye view of parts of False Bay.

You can also fork off from the main path and tackle the climb up to Noordhoek Peak if you’re looking to take in the tremendous view the peak offers. It is best to reach the top by late morning else you will be looking into the sun.

If you follow the main path it will take you to the trail that heads to Elephant’s Eye Cave. This can also be accessed from the Tokai Forest.

You can skip this trail and head back down to the car park. But you would be missing out on exploring a cave that offers a unique view of the Southern Suburbs.

  • Location:
  • Entrance Fee
    • Adults, R50
    • Children, R25
    • Wild Cards, free
  • Distance:
    • About 9km
    • The hike is moderately steep but not too strenuous
  • Estimated Time:
    • 3 hours
    • Add an extra hour to explore the caves
  • Contact:
    • +27 (0)21 789 2457
  • Map

Newlands Forest

photo of newlands forest
STROLL LEISURELY THROUGH NEWLANDS FOREST

@deancothill

Newlands Forest is one of the more popular walking locations in Cape Town due to the towering trees which provide ample shade for a leisurely stroll through the forest.

The only downside to Newlands Forest is that it is often quite busy and the various trails within the forest are also poorly marked and inadequately signposted.

It is a confusing labyrinth of trails, but it is difficult to get lost when you bear in mind that your car is always going to be at the bottom of the slope.

You can also reach Kirstenbosch gardens from Newlands Forest via the contour path or make your way to the famous Rhodes Memorial which is perched above the gorgeous Upper UCT campus.

These are both easy hikes, but it is advised to make sure you have cars at the end of both hikes as they are fairly lengthy.

  • Location:
  • Distance:
    • 3km per trail
  • Time:
    • Each circular trail can be done in just over an hour
    • These are less like hikes and more like gentle rambles
  • Contact:
    • +27 (0)21 712 0527
  • Map:

Chapman’s Peak Hike

photo of chapmans peak hike
GORGEOUS VIEWS OVERLOOKING THE SEA

@kristovtrollip

Chapman’s Peak Drive is famous for its gorgeous views and for being a truly amazing piece of engineering. It also boasts a moderate hike that will leave you winded if you struggle with vertical inclines.

The hike is well sign-posted and the steep vertical climb will take you through beautiful indigenous fauna and give you brilliant views of Hout Bay and later of False Bay. It is an absolute must if you wish to tackle some of the best hikes Cape Town has to offer.

The hike begins just before the ticket checkpoint on Chapman’s Peak Drive so you don’t have to pay the toll fee. It is a very worthwhile hike on a windless day, to have a picnic with an amazing view.

Chapman’s Peak Drive itself was built by convict labourers. The construction started in 1915 on the Hout Bay side with the Noordhoek side being started a year later. The construction from Hout Bay to the lookout point was completed in 1919, but it was only two years later when the road from Hout Bay to Noordhoek was completed.

The drive remains a feat of engineering prowess as the City of Cape Town regularly has to find new ways to ensure that the mountain doesn’t collapse on top of the road. They have set up an ingenious series of measures to catch falling rocks as the area is prone to rock falls further along the road.

  • Location:
    • Above Chapman’s Peak Drive
  • Distance:
    • 2.5km
    • Moderate hike
  • Estimated Time:
    • 3.5 hours
  • Map:
 Credit: vibescout.com