We don’t all have to be mountaineers to enjoy Cape Town’s amazing mountain ranges. If you’re relatively unfit or have a family you want to bring along for the trek, you’ll be looking for hiking trails with gradual ascents and not too many steep or sheer climbs. We’ve compiled a list of easy beginner hiking trails to give you that breath of fresh air without winding you!
The Jeep Track
There’s more than one way to get up Table Mountain, and the Jeep Track may not be the quickest, but it’s the easiest route up the mountain. Be warned it’s not a round trip, so you’ll need to organise some alternative transport back home or to your car from the Aerial Cableway.
The route starts at Constantia Nek, and you’ll follow the jeep track up winding slopes, with a few paths that act as shortcuts in between. Just keep following the track up onto the Back Table, past the dams and overseers cottage down to Echo Valley.
Eventually, you’ll reach the top of Plattekliff Gorge, and rise up onto the main Plateau to take the Cable Car back down. It’s definitely a full day hike, especially if you don’t rush the hike. The length likely makes it not a great hike for children.
The Pipe Track
The Pipe Track follows the pipes along the Camps Bay side of Table Mountain; these pipes used to deliver water down from the dams to the pump station, and now you can follow them in a relatively easy, level walk from Kloof Nek to Slangolie Ravine. It’s a ‘there and back’ hike, meaning you can turn around go back at any point, and it takes 3 hours to get to the end and back.
If it’s too easy for you, you can pick up the pace to kick up your heart rate, but otherwise, it’s an easy hike perfect for children and the relatively unfit.
Probably the easiest upwards hike, this hike is short and sweet. Make your way to the Table Mountain Aerial cableway, but park at the first left hairpin turn. That’s the start of the Kloof Corner hike, and you’ll zig-zag your way up stone and log steps to reach the contour path. Follow it to the left to stop just under the cable car station, or continue on as far along the contour path as you like.
The views from the contour path are spectacular, and the ease of the hike is perfect for if you want to avoid the crowds on Lions Head or if you don’t have a lot of time to hike. It’s only 40 minutes in total, perfect for a short hike to drink in the view.
Located above Woodstock and Salt River, you can just about see the Woodstock Cave, a wide, deep cave, like a window looking out over the city bowl. You can hike up to this cave for some great photo opportunities, and it’s not too strenuous either. You can either start from Tafelberg Road, parking where the gravel road starts, or you can start from Rhodes Memorial.
The hike starts at a metal gate, and it only takes 2.5 hours to do a return trip. We recommend you stay awhile though to enjoy the cool shade of the cave and the refreshing stream of water that often falls in a curtain over the mouth of the cave.
Constantia Nek to Kirstenbosch
This one starts much like how the trek up Table Mountain did via the Jeep Track. You can follow the Contour Path from Constantia Nek all the way around the mountain to Kloof Nek, but this easy hike is to Kirstenbosch Gardens, a short 2-hour hike there, or 4 if you choose to walk back. It’s a scenic, peaceful walk with gradual inclines, and the closer you get to Kirstenbosch the lusher it becomes.
We recommend parking a car at Kirstenbosch with a cooler box inside, a perfect lunch and refreshments after your long walk.
Hiking Safety 101
Even the easiest hikes come with their own risks. When you hike, you should be sure to leave early enough to give yourself to come back while it’s still brightly lit in the day. You shouldn’t bring valuables with you beside your phone, and keep it secure and out of view. Additionally, let someone know where you’ll be hiking, what time you’ll be hiking, and what time you should be back by. Familiarise yourself with the emergency numbers for Table Mountain National Park, 086 110 6417 or 27 (21) 937-0300. It’s also safer to travel in groups of 3 and more. Wear comfortable hiking shoes with a decent grip, and always stick to the designated hiking paths and routes. Going off-route can get you hurt, lost and injured, and make you harder to find.