The exciting thing about hiking is that it’s for everyone. Whether you’re physically fit or not, you will find hiking trails to love. As Sir Edmund Hillary puts it: “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”
There are many benefits to hiking, from sculpting your legs, core, hips and bum to burning fat. Hiking also lowers stress levels, improves mood, enhances mental well-being, reduces the risk for heart disease, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and improves bone density. Nice.
If you’re looking for an adventure, then you’ll love this list. Maybe challenge yourself a little and take a route you wouldn’t normally try — just to push your fitness boundaries. You ready?
There’s not much climbing or scrambling involved in Platteklip Gorge, but there’s a lot of upward walking (and I mean really walking), which makes it the ideal route for a workout. It provides a direct route to the summit of Table Mountain. The start point is at Tafelberg Road and it ends at the cable station. Depending on your fitness levels, it will take you approximately two to three hours to reach the top.
When I hiked this trail, it was ridiculously hot and there was little to no shade. It’s best to avoid hiking on a really hot day, but if you simply must do it, take sunscreen, plenty of water, sunglasses and a hat. And head’s up: There are slippery rocks, so wear the proper hiking shoes.
Devil’s Peak stretches from the bay to the foot of the mountain. It’s so exciting to walk along the Saddle — the point that connects Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain; from there, you can climb to the summit. The view is breathtaking. There are three routes to the Saddle. If you’re a beginner, like me, it’s best to take the Tafelberg Road route. The Newlands Ravine is known to be a bit challenging, but it has the most shade, and The Mowbray Ridge route is considered the most tricky. It takes approximately three to four hours, again depending on your level of fitness.
This route takes you from one side of Table Mountain to the other. Starting off in Kirstenbosch Gardens, you will arrive at the steep ascent of Skeleton Gorge where indigenous trees provide heaps of shade. Along the way, you’ll find a stream, typical mountain fynbos and some interesting rock formations before arriving at Maclear’s Beacon — the highest point on Table Mountain. It’ll take you approximately two to four hours to ascend.
This one offers great vantages of the Fish Hoek and Hout Bay valleys, as well as Cape Point, Karbonkelberg and Klein Leeukoppie. Its short distance makes this one of the more popular hiking trails. The starting and endpoint are the Chapman’s Peak toll booths, and it takes approximately one to two hours to ascend. Note: You will need to get a day pass at the toll booth, but there is no charge.
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The distinct slope next to Table Mountain known as Lion’s Head offers insane views of the city, Table Bay, Camps Bay and the Atlantic Ocean — it’s basically an Instagrammer’s dream. You will have to do some climbing… lots of it. But there are handholds and chains to help you. If you prefer to avoid the climbing, a roundabout route (which is also steep) will add about a half an hour to your hike.
Kasteelspoort Hiking Trail
Of all the hiking trails, Kasteelspoort is tops to its easy access to the mountain and suitability to all fitness levels — not to mention the epic 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. The starting point is the top of Theresa Avenue, Camps Bay or top of Kloof Nek Road. The endpoint is the top of Table Mountain and the Woodhead and Hely-Hutchinson reservoirs. It’ll take you around three to four hours.