Moderate – High
Moderate – High
+/- 10 – 12km roundtrip
Top of Theresa Avenue, Camps Bay / Top of Kloof Nek Road
Top of Table Mountain / The Woodhead and Helly-Hutchinson Reservoirs
3 – 4 hours (depending on your fitness & experience level)
The Kasteelspoort Hiking Trail is undoubtedly one of Cape Town’s most thrilling hiking trails for avid hikers and keen adventurers. While the Table Mountain National Park boasts a wide variety of hiking trails to choose from, ranging from beginner to advanced, Kasteelspoort is certainly in a league of its own.
This scenic hike is found on the western slopes of Table Mountain and is a great option if you’re looking to escape the large hiking crowds and enjoy a less-congested hiking experience up one of the seven New Wonders of Nature. By taking on the mighty mountain from the Twelve Apostles side, you will be treated with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range, Lion’s Head and beyond. On a clear day, you’ll even be able to see Robben Island.
The Kasteelspoort Hiking Trail has two starting points. You can either start your hike from the top of Theresa Avenue or from Kloof Nek via the popular Pipe Track Hiking Trail. If you choose to start your hike from Theresa Avenue, you will park your car at the top of the avenue in Rontree Estate, Camps Bay and enter the Jeep Track at the SANParks sign at the boom. After about a 5 – 10-minute walk along this track, you will get to the start of the Kasteelspoort Trail and embark on a challenging climb up a beautiful ravine.
Alternatively, you can park at Kloof Nek and hike the scenic Pipe Track Trail, which will take you approximately 45 – 60 minutes (depending on your fitness level) to reach the start of the trail at the Kasteelspoort Hiking Trail signpost. Although this route will add about an hour to your total hiking time, it offers sensational views of Camps Bay and the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range. Not to mention it provides you with a top-notch warm-up before taking on Kasteelspoort.
The Kasteelspoort Hiking Trail is known for its exhilarating nature, beautiful surrounding scenery, diverse fauna and flora, stunning panoramic views, and hidden gems along the way, but it is not to be underestimated. While it is one of Table Mountain’s most enjoyable and thrilling hikes, it is fairly lengthy and offers avid hikers a challenging yet rewarding climb to the top. Once the Kasteelspoort begins, the gradient increases progressively with a number of rocky steps and large boulders to navigate and scramble over. It is considered moderately difficult when it comes to skill and experience level, but not nearly as steep and direct as most of the northern and eastern routes. Less experienced hikers with a good level of fitness will still be able to do the hike as the trail has very little exposure to edges or daunting heights.
All-in-all, Kasteelspoort offers hikers an exciting and memorable hiking experience. Plus, you will be well rewarded for your hiking efforts with sensational panoramic views right throughout the hike. This is one Table Mountain hike that definitely deserves to be on your Cape Town hiking bucket-list!
KASTEELSPOORT TRAIL ROUTE DESCRIPTION
Kasteelspoort Hike from Kloof Nek via the Pipe Track Hiking Trail:
The parking area for this hike is on your left as you turn onto Tafelberg road from Kloof Nek road heading towards the Lower Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Station. From there, you will make your way onto Tafelberg Road by walking up a set of stairs positioned to the left of public bathrooms. After you cross the road, you will find another small set of stairs to the right (they are often hidden behind cars, so keep an eye out for them), which will lead you onto a dirt track. This is where the Pipe Track Trail finally starts!
For the first part of your Kasteelspoort hiking adventure, walk along one of Cape Town’s most popular and beloved hiking routes, the Pipe Track. It is a fairly easy trail with no expert hiking skills required and acts as a good warm-up before ascending the summit – just be sure to watch your footing as there are often some loose rocks, and roots to step over. After approximately 500m of walking along the Pipe Track, the actual pipelines can be seen while tracing this spectacular trail. Along the walk you will encounter a few splits in the path, just continue to stay on the main Pipe Track, as the turn to Kasteelspoort is clearly marked, so you won’t miss it. The tree-lined path offers cooling shade and boasts stunning views over the Cape coast.
After approximately 45 minutes and covering about 3.5km along the relatively flat Pipe Track, you will finally see the well-marked signpost to the left indicating the path up Kasteelspoort. Almost immediately after turning onto the Kasteelspoort route, the trail becomes increasingly steeper, with a steady climb all the way to the top.
The first segment is a rocky staircase that steadily snakes its way up the side of the mountain. The trail ascends moderately at first veering off to the right of Kasteels buttress. Initially, there is very little shade so it’s best to do this hike in the early morning before the sun is at its hottest, especially during Cape Town’s summer season. As you continue along the trail you will come across a small stream after approximately 20 minutes with a sign indicating that hikers should not scramble up the waterway, instead, make your way across the waterway and continue your hike up the well-beaten path. You will see yellow-painted footprints on the rocks guiding you on your way up.
Now, this is where the toughest part of the hike begins, or, for the thrill-seekers, the fun part! This portion of the Kasteelspoort Hiking Trail includes a number of steeper sections and involves getting your hands dirty with a bit of rock scrambling as well as pulling yourself up over larger rock faces. Not only does this part of the hike boast beautiful views of Camps Bay, Lion’s Head and beyond, the majority of this segment of the hike is under the shade of the mountain (in the morning through to early afternoon), offering the perfect opportunity to take a well-deserved breather to soak it all in. After recent rainfall, it is important to note that this section can become quite slippery when wet – so be sure to take extra care when navigating it.
**Insider tip: Keep a look out for the famous ‘flat rock’, also known as ‘Breakfast Rock’ (you’ll know it when you see it), located just past the halfway mark of your hike. This is a great resting point, breakfast spot and an even better lookout spot! Some may even go as far as to say that it is one of the most magnificent viewpoints on Table Mountain.
After approximately 40 minutes of some hard hiking graft of making your way up this steeper section of the trail, you will emerge from the shadows of the slopes as the gradient finally starts to ease up with the rocky path becoming a lot flatter. As you continue, you will encounter another small stream – make use of a small wooden bridge to cross the stream. Once you’ve crossed the stream you will find a circular, rocky signpost with a map in the centre of the path. At the signpost, turn right and continue along the path marked “Twelve Apostles Spine Route”. After approximately ten minutes you will reach another signpost. Take another right turn and make your way along the flat path marked “Old Cableway Viewpoint”.
Your final destination is almost within reach! At this point of your Kasteelspoort hiking adventure you will see remnants of the renowned old cable station on the right. Boasting stunning views, the old cable station is an ideal picnic spot and a scenic location to explore. Besides the ruins of the old cable station, you will also spot the famous ‘diving board’ in front of you. In order to access it you may need to take a small detour to the left and make your way around a clump of bushes and rocks before leading out onto the actual ledge.
This iconic protruding rock formation on the mountainside has become one of the most sought-after sights and attractions for anyone visiting Cape Town. It’s certainly received some major global attention too, with it gracing the pages of countless travel magazines, Instagram feeds, travel publications and the undeniable star of hiking adventure selfies.
Here’s a little insight into what the Kasteelspoort ‘diving board’ actually is. As the name suggests, the ‘diving board’ is a flat granite rock hanging right over the edge of the mountainside, creating a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity Even the most experienced adrenaline junkie’s heart’s will race with its ‘living on the edge’ allure. Soak up some of the most spectacular sweeping views of the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range, Lion’s Head, Robben Island, Camps Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean. Although making your iconic debut on the famed ‘diving board’ is incredibly tempting, it is not for the inexperienced or faint hearted. It is also not safe on windy days – we all know how unpredictable that Mother City gusts can be!
There are also a number of other paths to explore when you reach the Table Mountain summit. Yes, the hiking adventure never ends in Cape Town, especially when hiking this flat-topped monolith. Some of these paths include the Suikerbossie Trail, a visit to the nearby reservoirs or a further ascent to the other side of the mountain near the cable car – the choice is yours!
When making your way down Table Mountain, you can either follow the same route down, or choose between a number of other clearly marked paths.
While exploring the Pipe Track and Kasteelspoort trails, you can spot a wide variety of indigneous fauna and flora. From soaring raptors to tiny sugarbirds, birdwatchers can delight in the sheer abundance of bird species, with over 350 to spot while walking through the national park. Catch a glimpse of sunbathing lizards including the southern rock agama, the black girdled lizard, and the Cape skink as well as frogs, snakes, dassies, porcupines, the Cape fox, spotted genet, caracal, lynx, Cape clawless otter, and klipspringer; to name a few.
Did you know the Table Mountain National Park has the single richest floristic area on earth?
Don’t miss the opportunity to walk through the heart of the fynbos biome, with many species dating back 60-million years and through part of the Cape Floristic Region World Heritage Site, featuring over 1500 plant species including 500 different types of erica. Admire the beautiful wild flowers dotting the trail including various kinds of the protea family from the distinguished king protea, the magnificent national flower of South Africa, to the black-bearded sugarbush protea, and so much more.
TIPS FOR HIKING KASTEELSPOORT
- While the path is shady in places, it’s best to get started in the early morning. As the Kasteelspoort Trail only starts to receive direct sunlight by mid-morning, you will be properly shaded from the hot sun and scorching heat by the mountain on an early morning hike. It’s recommended that hikers start early during Cape Town’s hot summer months (November – February), preferably between 5:30 to 6:30 am. Plus, you’ll get to see the gorgeous sunrise, all while witnessing the glorious Mother City from the top of the all-mighty Table Mountain. What more can you ask for? During winter, hikers can start a little later as the sun only makes its appearance between 7:00 – 8am (depending on the month) Be sure to take extra precautions when hiking the Kasteelspoort Trail. There is a short section at the foot of Kasteel’s buttress that requires a certain level of scrambling over rocks. The Kasteelspoort Ravine can also be quite slippery (especially after rain) – Wear good, gripping shoes and be extra cautious when navigating it.
- Besides Kasteelspoort being a more challenging hike, you can look forward to seeing some incredible hidden gems. Take the opportunity to discover the historical old Cableway, which was once used to ship supplies to the top of the mountain for the construction of the dams in the 1800s. It is an incredible part of Cape Town’s history to see, while enjoying an exciting bucket-list-worthy hike up one of the New7Wonders of Nature, Table Mountain.
WHAT TO BRING
- Snacks and water
- Comfortable clothing
- Comfortable shoes
- Light jacket