The Best Hikes in Cape Town

The Best Hikes in Cape Town

Ruan Bekker

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

Whether you’re after a lazy saunter with a hearty brunch at the end, a windswept coastal wander, or a mountainous hike with spectacular views, here’s our pick of the best walks in and around the city. So, lace up your hiking boots and get cracking… And, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Hiking trails in Cape Town
Hiking trails around the Cape
Gentle walking trails

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

Lions Head, Best Hikes
Swiminmyaquarius’ Blog

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.
Note the trail is child-friendly, but not recommended for dogs.
Contact 021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)
Location Lions Head
TIG Reviewer Sharon Kariwo

2. Table Mountain: Skeleton Gorge

Skeleton Gorge, Best Hikes
Marinus

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, before taking the cable car to Tafelberg Road.
Starting point Kirstenbosch Gardens
End point Tafelberg Road
Duration 4 – 6 hours
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.
Note the trail is child-friendly, but not recommended for dogs.
Contact 021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)
021 799 8899, Kirstenboschinfo@sanbi.org.za (Kirstenbosch)
Location Kirstenbosch
TIG Reviewer Sharon Kariwo

3. Chapman’s Peak

Chapmans Peak, Best Hikes

Its (relatively) short distance and effortless terrain make this one 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.
Contact 021 791 8220, info@chapmanspeakdrive.co.za
Location Chapmans Peak Drive
TIG Reviewer Sharon Kariwo

4. Myburgh’s Waterfall Ravine

Best hikes in Cape Town: Myburgh’s Waterfall Ravine
Howell Photo

One of the most strenuous hiking trails in the Cape, it involves boulder-hopping in the Myburgh River, as well as ravines to scale. In winter, especially after it rains, footing is not so stable, so it is important to tread carefully. At the top, beautiful views of the Twelve Apostles, Clifton, Camps Bay, Oudekraal, and Llandudno await. If you take the hike between January and March, you will spot the beautiful and distinct Disa uniflora.
Starting and end point Farriers Way or Suikerbossie restaurant
Duration 5 hours
Need to know This steep hike is not for the feint-hearted and includes climbing up and down cliffs and rocks, so good hiking shoes and advanced fitness levels are required.
Contact 021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)
Location Table Mountain National Park
TIG Reviewer Sharon Kariwo

Hiking trails around the Cape

These trails may be a bit further out, but they’re all worth the trip. For some of them, you’ll have the option to stay overnight.

1. Silvermine

Silvermine
Lumai de Smidt 

This hike makes up part of the Hoerikwaggo Trail and, though long, is relatively easy due to built paths and guides. Starting at Slangkop Point, it involves walks along Noordhoek Beach up Chapman’s Peak, then further up to Noordhoek Peak and finally onto the Amphitheatre Path above Silvermine.
Starting point Slangkop Point
End point Silvermine Tented Camps
Duration 8 hours
Need to know If you’re not keen on the eight-hour hike, walks around Silvermine come highly recommended.
Tariffs R50 for adults; R25 for children (1 November 2016 – 31 October 2017)
Free with a My Green Card
Note The reserve is dog-friendly. Dog walkers require a Level 1 My Activity Permit, which can be purchased for R225 from the Tokai Plantation Office, or at the specified Cape Town Tourism branches
Contact 021 712 7471 (office)
021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)
Location Table Mountain National Park
TIG Reviewer Sharon Kariwo

2. Cape Point Nature Reserve

Cape Point, Best Hikes

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 available that range from two-hour to two-day hikes. The scenery along the way is diverse, ranging from fynbos and fauna to shipwrecks, whales and vast stretches of empty beaches.
Starting and end point Varies
Duration 2 hours – 2 days
Need to know Entry into the Cape Point Nature Reserve is R125 (R65 for children), after which you can decide which trail to embark on. If you are a holder of My Green Card (exclusive to Cape Town residents), you get 12 entries into this and other Table Mountain National Park’s for an annual fee of R125.
Contact 021 780 9010, info@capepoint.co.za
Location Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve
TIG Reviewer Sharon Kariwo

3. Boesmanskloof Hiking Trail

Boesmanskloof Hiking Trail, Best Hikes
Hike Diaries

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.
Note Regrettably, dogs are not allowed within any of the CapeNature reserves.
Cost of permit R40 (adults); R20 (children)
Contact 023 625 1621 (reserve office)
021 483 0190 (for permits)
082 496 2448 (emergencies)
reservation.alert@capenature.co.za
Location Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve

4. Wolfberg Arch Trail

Wolfberg Arch, Best Hikes
Pinterest

Immerse yourself in the silence and solitude of the Cederberg, where ancient rock formations provide a haunting backdrop, and the sense of having stumbled upon the ruins of a lost civilisation. The Wolfberg Arch, a 15-metre portal made of rock, is one of the most recognisable natural landmarks in the Cape, and on the way there you’ll pass through the cracks, a series of clefts in the mountain that are so deep they form a network of tunnels.
Start and end point Sanddrif Holiday Resort
Duration 8 hours (or 3 – 4 hours if you turn back at the cracks)
Need to know For the most part, you’ll be fully exposed to the sun, and there’s little water along the way. So make sure you’re protected and that you have sufficient water supply. The trail is easy to follow, but it may involve some rock scrambling at certain points.
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 Sanddrift reception.
Note Regrettably, dogs are not allowed within any of the CapeNature reserves.
Cost of permit R60
Contact 027 482 2825, sanddrif@cederbergwine.com (Sanddrif Holiday Resort)
021 483 0190 (for permits)
reservation.alert@capenature.co.za
Location Cederberg Wilderness Area

5. Kogelberg Trail

Kogelberg Trail, Best Hikes
CapeNature

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 The 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.
Note Regrettably, dogs are not allowed within any of the CapeNature reserves.
Cost of permit R40 (adults); R20 (children)
Contact 028 271 5138 (reserve office)
021 483 0190 (for permits)
028 271 5138 (emergencies)
reservation.alert@capenature.co.za
Location Kogelberg Nature Reserve

6. Groot Winterhoek Wilderness

Groot Winterhoek Wilderness, Best Hikes
Kyle

A World Heritage site, populated by diverse fynbos and wildlife and decorated by natural rock formations bearing ancient San paintings. An intricate network of hiking trails offers plenty of options for exploring this wilderness, and some even provide opportunities to swim in the river. The reserve is unique in that hikers are not required to stick to the marked trails, and there are huts available if adventurers choose to stay in the wilderness overnight.
Starting point Reserve parking area
End point Your choice
Duration Varies
Need to know Check the weather forecasts before venturing out as the area can get quite cold and rainy (as the name suggests). The trails don’t have route markers but there are small cairns that show the way.
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.
Note Regrettably, dogs are not allowed within any of the CapeNature reserves.
Cost of permit R60
Contact 022 931 2860 (reserve office)
021 483 0190 (for permits)
reservation.alert@capenature.co.za
Location Groot Winterhoek Wilderness

7. Krom River Trail

Krom River, Best Hikes
Pinterest

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 the 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
Duration Around 5 hours
Need to know The trail is closed during the winter season.
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.  The toll to use the Huguenot Tunnel costs R33.50 for a light vehicle.
Note Regrettably, dogs are not allowed within any of the CapeNature reserves.
Cost of permit R40 (adults); R20 (children)
Contact 021 871 1535 (reserve office)
021 483 0190 (for permits)
082 494 9707 (emergencies)
reservation.alert@capenature.co.za
Location Limietberg Nature Reserve
TIG Reviewer Sharon Kariwo

Gentle walking trails

These easy-going trails will give you a feel for the Cape, and most of them are dog-friendly too.

1. St. James Coastal Walk

St. James Coastal Walk, Best Hikes
travelsnippets.co.za

A gentle stroll along the False Bay coastline, and a chance to breathe in some fresh sea air. Locals love bringing the family here on weekends, parking their car at Surfer’s Corner and following the trail past beaches and rock pools before ending off with a relaxing lunch in Kalk Bay. Keep an eye out for seals and African oystercatchers, as well as historical landmarks, such as Rhodes Cottage and the old Cape Dutch Post Station.  
Starting point Surfer’s Corner beach by Muizenberg Station
End point St James railway station in Kalk Bay
Need to know The trail is pram-friendly and dog-friendly, and some of the stores and cafés along the way have even been known to leave bowls of water outside for pooches to enjoy.
Duration 40 minutes to an hour
Location Muizenberg

2. Cecilia Forest

Cecilia Forest, Best Hikes
Amber

Part of this easy-going hike is in the shade of a cool verdant forest, though sadly much of it has been cut away. You’ll walk along gravel roads and small paths that incline and decline to keep things interesting, encountering streams where you can refuel with pure and refreshing mountain water.
Starting and end point Cecilia Forest car park
Duration 2 hours
Need to know There are a number of forks along the trail, so it is possible to end up going round in circles. Follow another hiking group, if you require a bit of guidance.
Location Kirstenbosch
TIG Reviewer Sharon Kariwo

3. Alphen Trail

alphen trail
Mapio

This leisurely tree-lined trail walk is ideal for those looking for a quick but fulfilling bond with nature. It follows Diep River to the Constantiaberg Mountain and has little bridges, allowing strollers to walk on either side of the river.
Starting and end point Alphen Drive
Duration 1 hour
Need to know Its a favourite among runners, mothers with babies in prams and owners of friendly pooches.
Location Alphen Trail
TIG Reviewer Sharon Kariwo

4. Kommetjie to Noordhoek Beach

noordhoek beach
AGU Blogosphere

This is an easy trail along the beach, with views of Table Mountain, Hout Bay and Chapman’s Peak along the way. One of the most exciting spots is the wreck of the SS Kakapo, which was stranded in 1900, found halfway along the trail.
Starting point Surf Way, Kommetjie
End point The foot of Chapman’s Peak, Noordhoek
Duration 2 hours
Need to know Walk in groups, and avoid carrying valuables, as (sadly) there have been a few muggings in the area.
Note Dogs are allowed on Noordhoek Beach. Dog walkers require a Level 1 My Activity Permit, which can be purchased for R225 from the Tokai Plantation Office, or at the specified Cape Town Tourism branches.
Contact 021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)
Location Table Mountain National Park
TIG Reviewer Sharon Kariwo

5. Kirstenbosch

kirstenbosch-canopy-walk

The southeastern side of Table Mountain, which is the wettest, abounds with lush flora. Though you miss out on the dramatic westerly views, the beautiful indigenous forestry and abundance of streams more than make up for it. The Botanical Society offers free guided tours with different routes to suit your interests.
Starting end and point Information Desk at the Visitors’ Centre (Gate 1)
Duration 2 hours
Need to know Entry is R60 (adults); R15 (children 6 – 17); free (children under 6, BOTSOC members, pensioners on Tuesdays except public holidays).
Contact 021 799 8899, Kirstenboschinfo@sanbi.org.za
Location Kirstenbosch
TIG Reviewer Sharon Kariwo

6. Constantia Nek to Kirstenbosch

Best hikes in Cape Town: Constantia Nek to Kirstenbosch
Namib Sands

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.
Contact 021 799 8899, Kirstenboschinfo@sanbi.org.za (Kirstenbosch)
Location Kirstenbosch
TIG Reviewer Sharon Kariwo

These hiking trails and walks are also worth a mention:

Echo Valley
Blackburn Ravine (dog-friendly)
Nursery Ravine (Table Mountain)
Platteklip Gorge (Table Mountain)
Crystal Pools hiking trail in Gordon’s Bay

Disclaimer:

The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 05 October 2016

30 Responses to “The Best Hikes in Cape Town”

  1. Nicole

    Hi there
    We will be in Cape Town and would like to do a hike in the first week of August 2017. Where do I find a group to join? We have already tried the Lions Head walk. We are looking for nothing too strenuous but enjoyable. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Claire Nel

      Hi Nicole. I run Yoga Weekend Getaways in Cape Town and we have a getaway planned for the 11-13 August. Our weekend includes meals and accommodation, yoga, reflexology and a guided 14 Coastal Reserve hike. Let me know if you are interested. Claire

      Reply
      • nicole

        Thanks Claire

        We will be back in The Netherlands that weekend already. Maybe next year!

        Reply
      • Angela

        Hi Claire, sounds lovely! I’d be interested in upcoming events that you have. Could you let me know? Thanks, Angela

        Reply
  2. Ana Belen

    Hi there!! I’m looking forward to do some of these trails. I will be there the week from the 20th February 2017, so if there is someone interested I would be more than happy to share this experience! 🙂

    Reply
    • berny

      Hi Ana

      I have done a few hikes around CT. I may be available to hike this week.

      Regards
      Berny

      Reply
  3. Heather Ditmars

    Fantastic list! I’m also a fan of the pipeline track. Such a gorgeous country! -Heather from SheGoesGlobal.net

    Reply
    • Zaza

      Hi all I would love to meet some folks or group of people to hike with, I wanna explore more on this journey.

      Reply
  4. Pieter

    Hi there peeps, can anyone hook me up with someone who has done most of the hikes around Cape Town? It’s for a very good reason 😀 I need to find out something specific…

    Reply
    • Johann

      Pieter. I know exactly what you want to find out.

      One of the twelve daily passes??

      Reply
      • Pieter

        Hi Johann, what do you think I want to find out? 🙂 I’m was looking for a great spot to propose! Seeing we are close to Hermanus during the time I want to do it, I started making plans for somewhere in the Fernkloof nature reserve.

        Reply
        • Johann

          I’m a wedding photographer!! I can photograph it for free? I’m in cape town from 11-18 dec and early january. Haha. If your interested – JohannBekker.com.

          But i dont want to sound weird or salesy. For that area i do not know.

          Reply
          • Pieter

            Ek neem aan jy is afrikaans Johann…Dis great van jou om aan te bied om dit vernuut dit doen, maar ek twyfel of dit so gaan uitwerk. Ek beplan dit vir 4/5 Jan 2017 en ek sal verseker nie van jou verwag om soveel moeite te maak nie.

            Ek het darem n vriend wat gaan uithelp met die verloop van die avontuur 😀

          • Johann

            Awesome!! Alle sterkte! Post fotos! #hikeshesaidyes ? Haha eks sommer net nuuskierig

  5. Ivor

    Thanks for this great list! I will definitly explore some of them. “in Cape Town” is perhaps a bit of a stretch. If these were in Europe you would have to cross a few borders to get to some of them, but eitherway, they are still nice hikes. Have fun!

    Reply
    • Matthew Flax

      Hi Ivor. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

      Agreed that some of these trails are quite far out, and we figured that might raise some eyebrows, but we wanted to include options aside from really well-known Table Mountain trails like Lion’s Head and Skeleton Gorge.

      Conversely, going with “Best Hikes in the Western Cape” would’ve given us a mountain to climb (heh) in terms of narrowing down the candidates. We hoped that keeping the focus on Cape Town but limiting it to trails located 2-3 hours drive away at most would strike the right balance.

      Reply
    • Christi

      Great list but I was going to say the same thing. Wanting to do a lot of hiking on my 2 week visit in April but after mapping these out, it seems like quite a few are a trek from Cape Town! I’ve hiked Lions Head & Table Mountain on a previous visit. If you had to narrow this list down to 1-2, which would you recommend? Thanks in advance! 😉

      Reply
  6. Berg en Toer'er

    Very nice walks and hikes. The title is a bit confusing. Cape Town is a city. The second hike on here is The Wolfbergskere…thats in the Cederberg a good 5hour drive. So nice hikes but maybe the article should be titled “Hikes in the Southern Cape.”

    Reply
  7. brent

    We love and admire you and so look forward to your next shared journey. Happy hiking.

    Reply
  8. Cape Hiker

    It’s a nice list of trails around Cape Town (except Harkerville – that’s 4 hours’ drive away), but for many of them the term “hike” is perhaps not applicable; some of them are mere strolls or short walks in a beautiful setting. Some of the most spectacular routes on Table Mountain are missing – India Venster & Kloof Corner Ridge (both should be done with a guide) are fantastic; as is a number of the routes on the Apostles side (e.g Kasteelspoort).

    Reply
    • The Inside Guide

      Hi Cape Hiker

      You’re right – they’re not exactly hikes, but beautiful walks. India Venster is breathtaking, but we would be cautious about encouraging it on this platform.
      Happy hiking!

      Reply
  9. Combrinck

    Firstly, great article.
    I want to go on the SKELETON GORGE, I want to find out if there is any additional costs to the hike, or just the entrance fee to KIRSTENBOSCH?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  10. stonley

    Hello I would like to book at the krom rivere trail. It is possible to arrange the permit trail via email? Want to arrange for 5 people..

    Reply
    • The Inside Guide

      Hi Stonley
      You are through to The Inside Guide. Unfortunately, you need to call Krom River to book.
      Good luck

      Reply
  11. Yasmin

    Hi there,

    Just want to inform you that I visited Kirstenbosch botanical gardens after reading on your website that my green card could be used to enter for hiking trails.

    Ive just pulled my whole hiking group in on the hike only to be told that green cards cannot be used here. Weve wasted a trip. Please insure you amend the details there asap as ive heard that we havent been the first group have this happen to.

    Yasmin Allie

    Reply
    • The Inside Guide

      Oh dear, Yasmin, we must apologise for that, and amend the post immediately! We are sorry to have inconvenienced you and your group. Regards, The Inside Guide

      Reply
  12. Trek

    Wish i had found this info before i explored Cape Town’s trails. I eventually found an app called Trail Guide South Africa. Took most of the guess work out of looking for hiking trails and then it was fantastic.

    Reply
  13. Joanne

    Yes half an hour is an exaggeration. I would say its roughly the same. In fact it is the quicker route to go when there are many people queuing at the chains.

    Reply
  14. Mike Eloff

    great article guys but climbing Lions Head via the route that skips the chains adds on only 10 minutes and is hardly steep at all compared to via the chains.

    Reply

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