12 Stunning Hiking trails Cape Town

Ah I can’t say enough good things about Cape Town’s many hiking trails! This city is perhaps the best in the world for hiking. The nature you get to experience along the trails is incredibly beautiful and varied, and you have such a perfect range of difficulty and grade to keep things interesting.

One of the best things about hiking in Cape Town, though, is how easily you can go from looking out over the sprawling city, to being totally immersed in nature, as if you were hours away from everyone.

Whether you’re a beginner to hiking, or you’re looking for a real challenge, I’ve got you covered! After years exploring the mountains, I’ve ticked off just about all of them.

Table Mountain hiking trails

Of course, we have to start this list with Table Mountain’s many hiking trails! The monumental mountain dominates the city’s hiking scene, as it dominates the skyline. Its central location also makes it the perfect starting point for people who don’t want to travel far to enjoy a lekker hike.

Skeleton Gorge

Difficulty: Hard

Starting point location: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Duration: 3-4 hours up

This hike is really tiring, but not technically difficult. It’s also well shaded for most of the trail, and stays close to a fast-flowing stream, which makes it one of the best Table Mountain hikes for summer.

The Skeleton Gorge route starts at the beautiful Kirstenbosch, which points you up to the contour path, and eventually onto our trail. You’ll spend most of the trail hiking up stone and wood steps, before summiting the final third of the route through wooden ladders.

Your legs are going to feel like jelly the next day, and they’ll most likely be shaking before you reach the top of this steep trail. But the shade and the beauty surrounding you help a good deal and make this challenge well worth the effort.

Nursery Ravine

Difficulty: Hard

Starting point location: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Duration: 3-4 hours up

Similar to Skeleton Gorge, this trail takes you up the mountain via a shaded ravine. It’s a steep, difficult hike, but less technically challenging than Skeleton. You’ll see many of our indigenous trees and fynbos here, as you hike up hundreds of steps to the top. Be prepared for incredible views and shaky legs.

Pipe Track

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Starting point location: Junction of Tafelberg Road and Kloof Nek

Duration: 3 hours

The Pipe Track is a beautiful easy trek. It runs along a historic path where a pipeline was laid in the 19th century. The pipeline is, of course, no longer in use, but the trail that sprung up along it is a local favourite.

You can enjoy a really nice easy walk here and turn back whenever you feel like it, or embark on a bit more of a challenge, and do the full thing. The later section of the trail gets a bit steeper, and you’ll have to turn back at the end, as this isn’t a loop trail, but it’s really enjoyable throughout.

Platteklip Gorge

Difficulty: Moderate

Starting point location: Tafelberg Road

Duration: 2-3 hours up

I must be honest, this is technically my least favourite hike on the list. But – that’s personal preference! The Platteklip trail zigzags up the mountain, making it easier than the steep rocky inclines of the other hikes to the top. It’s also the most direct route up the mountain!

It’s a man-made trail, so if you’re not much of a hiker but you really want to see the top of the mountain and know that you managed to hike the city’s icon, this is the trail for you. But don’t try it in summer after early morning – the trail is almost entirely exposed to the sun. And if you’re put off by crowds or man-made trails on your hikes, rather stick to one of the others.

Kloof Corner

Difficulty: Easy

Starting point location: 2nd parking lot on Tafelberg Road

Duration: 1 hour

Kloof Corner is a real favourite of mine. It’s also one of Glenn and my favourite date ideas! The trail starts at the parking lot and quickly curves up the slope. It has its challenging sections, but these rocky uphills are balanced out by good stretches of flat ground. It’s also a short hike, and you should be at the top within 30-40 minutes, enjoying the views.

And what views! With rock formations soaring away behind you, you’ll look out over Lion’s Head, the Twelve Apostles, the city and Robben Island. It’s the best place in the city to watch the sunset and the moonrise, particularly with some friends.

Woodstock Cave

Difficulty: Moderate

Starting point location: Rhodes Memorial

Duration: 2 hours

I hiked Woodstock Cave after months of lockdown, which may be why I think of this as a very challenging hike! But really, it’s a moderate trek, with some scrambling and a few steep areas, evened out by easier sections. Still a proper challenge if you’re unfit, though.

The draw of this relatively low-ground hike is the beautiful Woodstock Cave. This deep, large cave is big enough for groups of people to relax and recover in, and usually, you’ll find a veil of water pouring across its wide mouth.

Kasteelpoort

Difficulty: Moderate

Starting point location: Pipe Track

Duration: 2-3 hours up

If you’re staying on the other side of Table Mountain – the Camps Bay, Llandudno side, then Kasteelpoort is your best trail. This route to the top of the mountain is a little gentler than its sister-trails on the other side. You’ll have gorgeous views over the ocean, the coastline, and the Twelve Apostles.

The hike starts on the Pipe Track and is clearly marked. I recommend you hike up Kasteelpoort and down Skeleton Gorge! You can even run down if you have any trail running experience, and this combination of trails will take you across the top of Table Mountain, with its reddish lakes, white beach sand, and unique biosphere.

Twelve Apostles via Skeleton Gorge

Difficulty: Very hard

Starting point location: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Duration: 7+ hours

Now this one is a real challenge! Beginning in the early morning, we ended it late in the day, absolutely wiped. We actually began the hike at Platteklip Gorge, but I would actually recommend starting on one of Table Mountain’s more interesting routes.

Once you get up to the top of the mountain, it’s just a matter of following the trails in the direction of the Twelve Apostles and Hout Bay. You’ll pass lakes, deep gorges, white beach sand and a proliferation of plantlife. It’s actually a pretty easy hike once you’re on the mountain – from there it’s mostly gentle undulations. The trail ends in Hout Bay, with a scramble down a steep ridge with plenty of secure footholds.

More beautiful hikes in Cape Town

Of course, Table Mountain isn’t the only hiking destination in the city. The monolith’s sister hills, as well as some hills and mountains further away, provide some fantastic and varied trails. They really are some of the best adventures in Cape Town!

Signal Hill contour path

Difficulty: Easy

Starting point location: Top of Rhine Road, Sea Point

Duration: 2 hours

This little hike is our daily running trail! Easily reached from Sea Point or from Lion’s Head, it loops gently around the mountain, giving you fantastic views of so much of the city. You’ll pass dog walkers, hikers and trail runners, along with a splendid amount of blooming flowers and fynbos. And if you choose to do the full loop, you’ll come across the famous noon gun! It’s also the best place to watch paragliders soaring through the air.

Lions Head hike

Difficulty: Easy

Starting point location: Lion’s Head parking lot, after the turn off from Kloof Nek Road

Duration: 2-3 hours

A famously beautiful and easy hike, Lion’s Head is the most popular in Cape Town. This is because of its easy accessibility and difficulty level, as well as the stunning views of Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, and the city.

After slowly spiralling uphill, you’ll scramble up some steep rocks with plenty of footholds. In a few areas, they’ve added ropes and metal rods forming steps. If you’re afraid of heights, do be aware that you will be climbing up rock with a steep drop on one side. For those comfortable on our feet, it’s perfectly safe, but it still feels rather startling! That’s what adds to the fun of it.

Another thing to keep in mind for this hike is that because of its popularity, you might be queuing as you hike – which isn’t great, honestly. So try to go at random times, and ideally in winter, as summer weekend mornings and evenings are packed here.

Devil’s Peak via Saddle Rock

Difficulty: Hard

Starting point location: Tafelberg Road

Duration: 5 hours

A difficult but very worthwhile hike, this is the perfect trail for those keen on seeing our city from a new vantage point. You’ll hike up Saddle Rock, plunged for a while in tall foliage. At the top, you may even see mountain goats scrambling about – we did!

The most exciting part of this hike is Knife’s Edge, a narrow ledge between two sharp drop-offs. Walk carefully, and keep it in mind if you’re afraid of heights! Once you’ve crossed this, it’s down past

Silvermine trails

Difficulty: Easy

Starting point location: Silvermine parking lot

The beautiful Silvermine nature reserve is a lovely place to spend a sunny day. There are a number of trails around the park, and any one of them will take you through the varied nature of the environment. They are mostly easy treks, as Silvermine is hilly but not mountainous.

Silvermine also has a beautiful dam with wine-red water dyed by the rich plantlife, and a nice scattering of braai areas and picnic spots, making it extra ideal for a day out with friends or family.

Choosing your favourite hikes in Cape Town

So, there you have all of my all-time favourite hikes in Cape Town! Of course, this is not an exhaustive list – there are so many trails in and around the city, it would take years to do them all. But that’s the best part – there’s no end to the explorations.

If I’ve missed out your favourite hiking trail in the mother city, let me know. I’d love to add it to the list – and even more to hike it myself!

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