Alternative Hiking Routes While Lionshead is Closed

Lion’s Head is closed for trail maintenance and repair from the 7th of January until the 14th of February. To read more about the closure click here.

If you are like us you are probably looking for some other hikes to do in Cape Town while Lion’s Head is inaccessible. Here are some alternative hiking ideas for you, from laidback strolling to challenging rock scrambling.

Easy Hike: Pipe Track

Distance: approximately 6km | Hiking Time: 3 hours | Difficulty Level: Easy
Terrain: Level – a rocky single jeep track, with few stone stairs.

It is one of the most enjoyable tranquil and easy hikes in the city, with amazing views similar to Lion’s Head, along the pipe track above Camps Bay. You won’t be aiming for the summit, so no need to worry about steep and strenuous inclines. But it is a hefty distance, so come prepared with enough water and snacks. The hike starts on a single rocky path which leads into a jeep track. You will be hiking up a few little hills, but nothing too challenging.

The route dates back to 1887 and as the name hints at, the track was created to lay pipelines. These important pipes transfer the precious liquid from the mountain’s reservoirs to the City of Cape Town. You can’t go wrong with this hike, even though it is not challenging, the magnificent views of the 12 Apostles mountain range will make up for the simplistic route.

Did you know? Mountaineers have been conquering the mountain since 1503

The route meanders along the Atlantic coast, looking down upon Camps Bay, with Lion’s Head and the ocean in the distance. Enjoy the rich fauna and flora along the way, you’ll be surrounded by the famous fynbos, with proteas scattered along the way. The track hugs the side of the formidable Table Mountain sandstone cliffs and travels through the western slope ravines as well. The route is in the shade during the early morning and sunny the rest of the day. Best time to hike it in the hot summer months, is during the early morning or late afternoon.

Get to the Top: Platteklip Gorge

Distance: approximately 2.5km | Time: 2 to 3 hours | Difficulty Level: Moderate
Terrain: stone steps with steep sections on a single rocky track

This is the oldest and most direct route to Table Mountain’s summit. It is also one of the easiest routes, making it very popular (aka expect a few hiker friends to pass you on the way) It’s a well-constructed trail that follows a deep ravine on the front face of the mountain. Look up at the majestic cliffs as you hike, traversing them before reaching the summit.

You can also extend the hike from the ravine head, meandering along the whole length of the famous mountain before reaching the highest point on the summit. Epic views guaranteed! If you are not a big fan of scary heights, this is the best route for you.

Related: Top 5 Hiking Routes up Table Mountain

The hike features big rock steps, requiring some scrambling during the lower part the route. It still a tedious hike, although it’s less strenuous compared to other Table Mountain hiking options. It’s a good route option if your fitness level is low and you prefer a less technical hike, and perfect if you have a fear of heights. But beware, hiking down will take its toll on your body, as it is quite steep with joint-jarring steps to contend with. You can also opt for the option of climbing up Table Mountain and taking the cable car back down, or the other way around. Read our post Hiking up Table Mountain or Lion’s Head at Night if you want to spice up your hike.

More Challenging: Skeleton Gorge

Distance: approximately 6.5km | Time: about 5 hours | Difficulty Level: Challenging
Terrain: stone steps with steep sections and ladders on a single rocky track, includes minor scrambles

This one is another classic route up the mountain, but more challenging than Platteklip Gorge. It starts in the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. So the first part of the route traverses through an indigenous jungle before you reach the shrub-covered slopes on the way to the highest point on the mountain.

You can also consider a little detour to the secret “beach” at the Table Mountain reservoirs. As you ascend the mountain, take in the epic views of the Cape Peninsula before enjoying the views of the city on the other side.

Related: Top Five Hiking Groups in Cape Town

The route scampers across slippery rocks in one section, so get ready for the challenge. But it doesn’t include any excessive exposure to heights, except for a short section of wooden ladders. These are very challenging during wet conditions. If you hike it during the winter months of June to August you will be treated to little waterfalls and cascades along the way.

What is scrambling?

It’s an in-between level, not just hiking and not quite climbing. This adds a nice challenge to a hike without making it too technical. After a hike that includes a bit of scrambling, you will feel like you have truly climbed a mountain.

India Venter

Distance: approximately 3km | Time: 3 hours | Difficulty Level: Challenging
Terrain: steep sections with staples and stone steps on a single rocky track, includes scrambling.

This one is by far one of the most challenging routes up the mountain. And not for the faint of heart, 15% of the way you will be navigating narrow ledges while exposed to heights. Ideal for adventurous hikers, with a great variation in the topography.

You will explore a very dramatic part of the mountain, climbing just-just below the cable car while meandering through the formidable cliffs. Although the hike is not as strenuous as Skeleton Gorge, it is more technical. If you are not an experienced hiker, it is advisable to do this route with a professional guide. Read our post Hiking up Table Mountain to learn more about the benefits of a guided hike.

Climbing Table Mountain should be taken very serious, and with a challenging route such as the India Venster you should make sure you are properly prepared and a competent hiker, if you want tackle it on your own. Plus, make sure that you climb with a group of friends. If you can stomach the heights, the magnificent views and imposing topography are spectacular. Any adventure junkie’s dream come true!

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