Hiking Cape Town, South Africa: 11 Most Incredible Trails

Hiking Cape Town Affiliate Disclosure

Cape Town is an incredible destination for hiking, and a trip to the Mother City wouldn’t be complete without exploring a few of its many stunning trails.

Thanks to its unique location, Cape Town is located directly under the famed Table Mountain and is surrounded by miles of turquoise Atlantic coastline. Whether you’re looking for a short and exciting hike or epic challenge with incredible views, you can find it in Cape Town.

Hiking Trails in Cape Town

Hiking in Cape Town is unique because you can spend hours trekking in tranquil nature and finish with a delicious meal at a fancy downtown restaurant only a few minutes later. 

Cape Town is also unique in the fact that it resides in the Cape Floristic Region, the most biodiverse place in the world.

There are thousands of different plant species within this small region, many of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Nature enthusiasts will love the pure natural beauty of the Cape’s flora and fauna. 

Use our guide to explore the 11 best and most beautiful hiking trails in Cape Town; you’ll be planning your trip to South Africa before you even finish reading.

Difficult Hiking Trails In Cape Town

Let’s start with the three most difficult hiking trails that can be found in Cape Town: Skeleton Gorge, Kloof Corner Ridge, and Tranquility Cracks. These hikes are typically not for the faint of heart, so here’s what you need to know:

1. Skeleton Gorge

Distance: 4.5 Miles
Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet
Time: 4-5 hours

For those wanting to explore Table Mountain more thoroughly, Skeleton Gorge might be the perfect challenge. This trail is truly unique because of the diverse vegetation and the range of views that it offers.

Can you imagine being able to explore lush forests, sandy beaches, and cold, rocky mountain tops all in the space of a few hours? Those who have braved Skeleton Gorge can.

A view from the top of Skeleton Gorge - one of the best hiking trails in Cape Town.

Skeleton Gorge is considered an advanced hike and traverses from the lush Eastern slope of the mountain all the way to the rocky Western front. The hike begins in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens with a gentle walk through the gardens. However, once you reach Skeleton Gorge, the trail turns steep very quickly.

Note: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens charges an entrance fee of around $15, so be prepared to pay if you begin your hike here.

This hike feels very magical as you hop overflowing streams, climb up wooden ladders that have been set into the rock, and hike through dense, green forests.  

After an hour of intense climbing, you will reach the top, when the trail levels out considerably. There are some sandy reservoirs a short detour from the trail, in which many hikers will take a dip to cool down and stop for lunch.

The trail then leads to Maclear’s Beacon, which is the highest point on Table Mountain and continues along to the cable station at the front of the mountain. If you are up for another hike, you can take Platteklip Gorge down the mountain (though it is quite steep to come down).

Otherwise, you can buy a cable car ticket for around $10 and enjoy a quick ride down the mountain. 

We strongly recommend that hikers wear sturdy shoes and warm clothes, as this trail can get quite slippery after rainy weather. 

2. Kloof Corner Ridge

Distance: 2 miles
Elevation Gain: 2437 feet
Time: 3-4 hours

Kloof Corner Ridge is one of the scarier hikes on Table Mountain, making it the perfect adventure for thrill-seekers and experienced hikers.

Kloof Corner Ridge - A view of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.

This trail offers some seriously beautiful views of Cape Town, the Twelve Apostles, and Lion’s Head but should not be attempted by those with a fear of heights. Some sections of the hike have exposed, narrow ridges, while other sections require the use of built-in chains to pull yourself up through rocky crevices.

Any hiker who dares to ascend Table Mountain via Kloof Corner Ridge will not be disappointed by the epic views nor the epic challenge.

Beginning at Kloof Corner and ending at the top of Table Mountain, this hike should take about 3 or 4 hours and you should only attempt this hike with someone who is familiar with the trail.

After all that scrambling up the mountain, you will be blessed with the iconic view at the top of Table Mountain and can reward yourself with lunch at the cafe located near the cable station.

It is not recommended that you take the same path down, but there are multiple other trails to choose from once you reach the top. You can also take a cable car down for around $10 if you’ve had enough hiking for the day. 

3. Tranquility Cracks

Distance: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2624 feet
Time: Approximately 4 hours

After hiking a few of the busy trails on the front of Table Mountain, you may be yearning for that feeling of finding something undiscovered. The Tranquility Cracks hike could be the hidden gem that you are looking for.

This moderate-difficult hike is located on the Western slope of Table Mountain, also known as the Twelve Apostles.

A View of the Ocean and Cliffs in Cape Town During A Hiking Excursion.

While all of the scenery is beautiful along the way, the thing that makes this hike special is the series of deep fissures in the mountain that are big enough to explore. Inside the cracks, you can find Yellowwood trees growing, and the cracks themselves will leave you in awe. 

You can start this hike from the Pipe Track, which will then lead to a series of trails that lead to the top. Most experienced hikers will recommend Corridor Ravine. The path to Corridor Ravine is not well marked, so keep an eye out for it.

Just after you pass the Slangolie Ravine entrance, watch for a fork in the road. Take the left fork and stay on this path until the top. Once you have reached the top, again, keep an eye out for another path that veers left towards the ocean.

After a few more minutes of climbing, you have reached the Tranquility Cracks.

Spend some time exploring the cracks, taking photos, and soaking in the scenery before heading back down. Most hikers recommend descending by the scenic Kasteelspoort Trail and connecting back with the Pipe Track. 

Make sure to bring a hat, sunscreen, and a warm jacket for the hike, since some parts of the trail will be very exposed, while others have very little sunshine. 

Note: If you want to ensure your chances of finding these hidden cracks, it may be worth it to hire a guide or go with someone who is familiar with the route.

Moderate Hiking Trails In Cape Town

If you aren’t quite up for an epic challenge, there are still plenty of hiking trails in Cape Town to suit your style. These three hiking trails will get your heart racing, but not for an extended amount of time like the trails listed above.

Here are the details for the best moderate hikes in Cape Town:

4. Lion’s Head

Distance: 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1105 feet
Time: 2-3 hours

Lion’s Head is one of the most popular trails in Cape Town and is considered to be a bucket list item for many who come to visit the city. Although slightly lower in elevation than Table Mountain, it still offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the city, the ocean, and of course, Table Mountain.

Starting at the bottom of Lion’s Head, it takes around 90 minutes to reach the summit. The trail itself winds around the mountain, making for an easy and steady incline.

An overlook of Cape Town, South Africa.

Towards the top, the trail becomes more technical, with ladders that can be used for climbing in some places, but reaching the summit is well worth it.

You can enjoy this hike at any time of the day, but the most popular times to hike Lion’s Head are sunrise and sunset. If you choose to go for sunrise, you will arrive in the dark and watch the sun come up over Devil’s Peak and the city. The view will leave you breathless.

The sunset hike is just as remarkable to witness because you will have the chance to watch the sun drop down over the Atlantic Ocean, making for some spectacular photos. For an unbelievable experience, bring a bottle of South African wine to enjoy during sunset.

Note: If you decide to go during sunrise or sunset, you will need a flashlight or a headlamp in order to get back down safely in the dark.

It is best to start the hike at least an hour before sunrise or sunset so that you have time to enjoy the hike itself and settle in for an amazing view. Because this is one of the most popular hiking trails in Cape Town, it can get crowded very quickly, especially on the weekends. 

5. Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge

Distance: 2 miles
Elevation Gain: 2293 feet
Time: 1.5- 2 hours

Platteklip Gorge is the most direct hiking trail to reach the top of Table Mountain and one of the most popular as well.

The trail begins just past the parking area for the Table Mountain lower cable station. It is a moderate hike with very few technical skills required, though there are quite a few stairs to climb towards the top.

Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge - A View of Cape Town From This Hiking Trail.

On the way up, you can enjoy captivating views of the city and of Table Bay Harbour. The higher you go, the more epic the view. You will also see many species of wildflowers and maybe even an animal or two. 

The top of the mountain is really what makes this hike worthwhile. At this height, you will have spectacular views of Cape Town, Lion’s Head, and Robben Island on a clear day.

There are many small paths that you can explore while you are up there, as well as a restaurant, bar, and gift shop. And if you don’t feel like hiking back down Platteklip Gorge, you can take the cable car down instead for about $10. 

Note: Wear warm clothing as it can get very windy and the top of the mountain is much colder than the base. The weather in Cape Town can change rapidly and the cable cars at the top of Table Mountain will stop operating if it gets too windy.

If you are planning to take a cable car down the mountain after your hike, it is best to check the Table Mountain website to ensure that they are still operational. Otherwise, you will need to hike back down.  

6. Chapman’s Peak

Distance: 3.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 1295 feet
Time: 2-3 hours

The Chapman’s Peak summit trail is considered one of the most underrated and rewarding hiking trails in Cape Town.

Chapman’s Peak is located farther south along the Cape Peninsula and separates Noordhoek and Hout Bay. You can start from either side, but the Hout Bay trail is considered to be shorter and easier.

This trail offers a 360 view of Hout Bay, Noordhoek, and the rocky Atlantic coastline. Aside from the picturesque coastal views, you can also discover many indigenous trees and protea on the hike. It is well worth the drive down the peninsula.

Chapman's Peak in Cape Town South Africa.

The best times to go are in the afternoon and evening as the scenery will not be obscured by the shade; therefore, it will be that much more magnificent. If you decide to stay for sunset, make sure to pack a flashlight for the hike back down.

Note: If you are driving your own car to the Hout Bay trailhead, stop by the toll booth and collect a free day pass before you park. Make sure to show it again on your way out, or you will be required to pay the full tariff.  

7. Echo Valley

Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1328 feet
Time: 2 hours

A trip to Cape Town wouldn’t be complete without exploring the many hiking trails around the Kalk Bay Mountains. Tucked between the Indian Ocean and rocky, green cliffs, Kalk Bay is a unique little fishing town with a lot of personality.

The view gets even better when you start climbing the mountains above the town. One of the best hiking trails in Kalk Bay is the Echo Valley Hike, so be sure to add this to your Cape Town itinerary.

A View of the Town in Kalk Bay.

Though it’s steep at the beginning, this moderate hike is truly worth the effort. Offering scenic views of False Bay, captivating rock formations, and a milk-wood forest, Echo Valley is an absolute must for any hiker looking to explore the Southern Peninsula.

You can begin at Echo Valley trailhead and finish at the same point, or you can choose to explore further and follow the trails leading to St. James and Muizenberg. Whatever you decide, you will not be missing out.

The main hike leads to the Ampitheater, which boasts some stunning scenery, but there are many other trails that lead to other scenic viewpoints, secret caves, and forgotten mountain pools.

There are even some spots on the trail in which you can see the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean at the same time. Just make sure to follow the signs so that you don’t get lost. 

Note: Go in the spring, when all of the local fynbos are in bloom. The hills will be at their most colorful and you will not be disappointed. It is also best to go in the morning when the winds seem to be the lightest and the sun is still on your side of the mountain.

Easy Hiking Trails In Cape Town

If you’re looking for a relaxing stroll or an easy trek up to an awesome viewpoint, Cape Town has you covered. Here are the three easiest hiking trails in Cape Town for travelers:

8. The Pipe Track

Distance: 3.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1108 feet
Time: 2 hours

The Pipe Track is one of the easier hiking trails on Table Mountain and in Cape Town. It was built in the late 19th century to service a pipeline carrying water from a reservoir on the mountain into the city center.

Like most hikes in Cape Town, it offers some amazing scenic views of the coastline as it winds underneath the famed Twelve Apostles peaks. Although it is a long-ish distance, the terrain is relatively level and flat, making it an easy and popular walk.

Table Mountain From a Distance.

The Pipe Track begins at the corner of Kloofnek Road and you can hike as much or as little as you want, just turn around when you’re ready! Or you can make it a one-way hike and finish at the Camps Bay Pipe Track entrance.

If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can hike through Corridor Ravine and up to the Tranquility Cracks, which is a far more challenging hike. Whatever the distance, you will not regret those views.

Note: This trail offers very little shade, so make sure to hike in the mornings or evenings on those hot summer days!

9. The Cape of Good Hope Trail

Distance: 2.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 610 feet
Time: 1.5 hours

The Cape of Good Hope trail is a relatively easy and well-maintained walk that is very popular for those wanting to visit the most South Western point of Africa.

An Aerial View of The Cape of Good Hope.

Starting at the Cape Point parking lot, you will see the rugged yet beautiful terrain of Cape Point, as well as rocky shorelines and the pristine Diaz Beach that has some of the bluest water in the Cape.

At the end of the trail, you will get the chance for a photo opportunity with the famous Cape of Good Hope sign. Beware, this sign, which is proof for many that they have visited the tip of Africa, is a major attraction and you may have to wait a few minutes for your turn to take a photo.

Note: Cape Point can be very cold and windy, even in the summer, so make sure to dress warmly. There is an entrance fee to enter the Cape of Good Hope, which costs approximately $25 per person. It is worth it to combine this hike with other activities in the park to make it worth the cost.

10. Muizenberg- St James Walk

Although this paved pathway is a bit different from the other hikes mentioned here, it is ABSOLUTELY worth mentioning. The Muizenberg-St James Walk is perfect for that day when you want to take it easy and relax at the beach.

The walk begins in the popular beachside suburb of Muizenberg and follows directly beside the coast to the St James tidal pools. The walk itself follows directly beside the rocky shoreline and offers some epic views and fresh ocean air. The contrast between the bright blue waves and the rust-colored boulders is astounding.

St James Walk

Once you reach St James, the choice is yours between three unique little suburbs. You can decide to take a refreshing dip in the St James tidal pools and grab lunch at Folk Cafe. If you’re lucky, there might even be live music playing.

You can continue walking another mile along the main road to Kalk Bay for lunch and antique shopping. And then you can head back along the trail to Muizenberg and have a beach day or a surf lesson.

Note: The best time to take this walk is during low tide. If the tides are high, the waves occasionally splash the trail and drench everything in reach.

Hiking Near Cape Town

Avid hikers don’t need to stay in Cape Town for epic hiking trails. There are amazing nearby places, too. Not only will you avoid the crowds that tend to flock to the hiking trails within the city limits, but you’ll discover an entirely different side of South Africa.

Here’s what you need to know about hiking trails near Cape Town:

11. Kogelberg Nature Reserve

For those nature lovers who are eager to explore farther out of the city, Kogelberg Nature Reserve should not be missed.

Located about 60 miles down the coast from Cape Town, this UNESCO World Heritage site has over 1800 different species of plants and is considered to be the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom. There are a variety of activities available in Kogelberg Nature Reserve, including white water kayaking and mountain biking, but hiking is one of the most popular.

Kogelberg National Park Near Cape Town Has Plenty of Good Hiking Trails.

Some of the best hiking trails in Kogelberg Nature Reserve include:

✔ The Palmiet Trail – A level, six-mile route alongside a river.

✔ The Three Sisters Trail – A stunning five-mile trail that is ranked as moderate.

Both of these hikes offer some spectacular views that will make you feel like you’re at the edge of the world. There are also a few different overnight treks that are worth looking into if you’ve got the time and the courage.

Note: You will need a day permit in order to hike in Kogelberg Nature Reserve for about $5, which you can purchase at the Kogelberg reserve office or at the CapeNature Central Reservations office.

Cape Town Hiking: FAQs

To make sure we’ve covered all of the bases when it comes to hiking in Cape Town, here are the most frequently asked questions that travelers have:

Are There A Lot of Hiking Trails In Cape Town?

Yes. There are so many hiking trails in Cape Town that it would be hard to find a Cape Town local who has actually been on all of them. Use your time in Cape Town to explore some of the most unique hiking trails in the world.

Do You Have To Pay For Hiking In Cape Town?

Depending on where you choose to hike, you may have to pay a small fee to enter the parks. It is best to check the specific hike in advance in order to bring enough money for the permit. 

Typically, hiking any of the trails in Cape Town shouldn’t cost more than $15-20, but it’s smart to bring a bit more than you think you need. Whether you decide to take the cable car back down the mountain or stop for lunch along the way, it’s nice to have extra cash.

Is It Safe To Hike In Cape Town?

Although you may see the occasional solo hiker out on the trails, most Cape Town locals do not recommend going on hikes alone. There have been reports of minor theft around trailheads and further up the mountain.

A View of the Bluffs, Cliffs, and Ocean in South Africa.

But don’t let this deter you. Bringing someone else along can make the adventure safer and more fun. There are many Facebook and WhatsApp groups that connect many people to organize group hikes.

Most hostels in Cape Town also offer guided hikes to some of the more popular locations, like Lion’s Head and Table Mountain. If you would prefer to hike without a guide, you can always team up with other travelers at your accommodation and explore the trails together.

Is Hiking Up Table Mountain Safe?

The short answer is yes, hiking Table mountain is safe and thousands of tourists and locals climb to the top every year. However, just like most other places, it is important to follow the local safety tips. It is also advisable that you choose a hike that matches your level of fitness and expertise. 

Hiking In Cape Town Safety Tips

  • Don’t hike alone; three or four people is the perfect number.
  • Stay on the trail and follow signs carefully. There are hundreds of trails on the mountain and it is easy to take the wrong one. 
  • Take waterproof and warm clothing, even in mid-summer, and wear walking shoes or hiking boots. Wear a hat or cap and sunblock in summer. Cape Town is notorious for its unpredictable weather and it is better to be prepared.
  • Always take enough food and water for the whole hike. Biltong, a South African specialty, is the perfect snack to carry with you on the trails. If you don’t eat meat, then you should be able to find plenty of fresh fruits and nuts to bring with you. 
  • If you are parking your own car at the trailhead, lock your doors and do not leave any valuables in the car while you hike. Break-ins are common in Cape Town and you might come back to a smashed window if you’ve left even just a few coins visible. 
  • You can also check the SANParks website for any updates on trails and further safety tips.

What To Pack For Cape Town Hiking

Just like most other hiking destinations, it is advisable to bring sunscreen, a hat, a fully charged cell phone, good hiking shoes, and enough snacks for the trek.

Last but not least, bring warm clothes. Cape Town is a very windy city with unpredictable weather, so it is essential to have a wind or waterproof jacket at all times on the mountain.

A View of the Cape.

Best Places To Stay In Cape Town

As it is one of the major cities of South Africa (and Africa in general), Cape Town offers A LOT of places to stay. There are hundreds of hostels, hotels, Airbnbs, and guesthouses within the city limits. The choices can honestly be a bit overwhelming. 

Here are a few options for every budget type to help you plan your holiday:

Mojo Hotel: $ – $$$

Mojo Hotel deserves a mention of its own because it offers accommodation of all kinds and prices. Dorm beds cost about $15 a person, but you could easily spend over $100 on a premium seaview suite if you’re feeling luxurious. 

Located in the Cosmopolitan neighborhood of Seapoint, Mojo Hotel is possibly one of the more interesting places that you could stay in Cape Town and is only a stone’s throw from the Sea Point Promenade.

The ground floor holds Mojo Market, an indoor food and retail market with live music, 30 food vendors, and four bars (with over 100 different beers on tap). The rooftop of Mojo hotel has some stunning views of the sea and is located directly below Lion’s Head. It is the perfect place to relax after a long day of hiking in Cape Town.

Budget Accommodation – $

Since April 2020, South Africa has had months-long closures of the international borders. This has affected the tourism industry in a major way and some of Cape Town’s most beloved hostels have since closed down. The good news is that there are still SO MANY options to choose from.

Some of the best and most centrally located hostels are Never@Home Backpackers, 91 Loop Boutique Hostel, and Once in Cape Town.

Mid-Range Accommodation – $$

If you want to find mid-range accommodation and don’t mind paying between $50 and $150, you will have the chance to stay at some REALLY nice places. 

Some notable mentions are Parker Cottage Guesthouse and The Cape Milner Boutique Hotel.

Upscale Accommodation – $$$

If you feel like living luxuriously for a few days while in the Mother City, you will not be disappointed by the many upscale hotels and resorts.

The Silo Hotel is built inside of a renovated grain silo from the early 20th century and shares the space with the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (one of the best museums in Cape Town). This unique luxury hotel offers 360-degree views of the city and all the comfort you could imagine. The price is pretty steep though, so be prepared.

Another upscale hotel in Cape Town that is just as comfortable is One&Only Cape Town Resort.

The Wrap-Up: Hiking Cape Town, South Africa

For a truly unique experience, visitors to Cape Town should consider hiking one of the many trails that make up this famous city. Whether you are looking for an easy short hike or something more challenging over several days, there is sure to be a trail in Cape Town suited just for your needs and abilities.

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