Cape Town Hiking Trails
The close proximity of mountain hiking trails to downtown Cape Town gives the city its unique balance of city life and nature and makes Cape Town such a popular lifestyle choice for many South Africans.
The Western Cape is a playground for hikers and trail-runners thanks to its varied topography of majestic mountains, forested slopes and long, flat beaches. Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head provide popular hiking paths on the outskirts of the city bowl with panoramic views of the city, harbour and nearby beaches. But for those hikers and trail-runners looking for something more peaceful with equally breathtaking views, Hout Bay (a 20 minute drive from central Cape Town) holds some of the best and rarely-trodden mountain trails.
A good start for intermediate hikers is the Suikerbossie trail, which starts between Hout Bay and Llandudno. After an initial steep climb on makeshift stairs behind the Suikerbossie restaurant, the trail evens out along the back of the 12 Apostle Mountains. There are two ravines en route with clear streams running off small waterfalls, which are impressive during the rainy season, but you should always take water with you in summer.
Diagonally opposite this trail are the Karbonkelberg mountains, which offer great views of Llandudno, Sandy Bay and the Hout Bay harbour and valley. This trail can be accessed near the harbour and is suitable for intermediate-to-fit hikers, with the highest peak reaching 653 metres above sea level.
The Hoerikwaggo Trail – a five-day hike between Cape Town and Cape Point – can also be accessed at various points in Hout Bay for those who want to take a shorther hike of a few hours. From the Constantia Nek parking lot, a short and scenic climb through indigenous fynbos and mountain streams takes you to the Vlakkenberg Peak (579 metres). Here you get spectacular views of the coasts and Sentinel Peak.
The signature stretches of the Hoerikwaggo Trail in this area, however, are the Silvermine and Chapman’s Peak trails, both of which start near the Old Fort on Chapman’s Peak Drive. The former reaches heights of 721 metres and ends at Silvermine Reservoir (great for a cool-off swim and picnic), while the latter, more challenging portion of this trail offers the best views of the Sentinel and Noordhoek Beach.