Nursery Ravine Hike – Explore The Trail

Difficulty

Moderate

Fitness Level

Moderate – High

Route distance

+/- 3km

Start point

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens / Cecilia Forest, a little further along Rhodes Drive

End point

Upper Table Mountain Cableway Station

Average time

3 – 5 hours (depending on your fitness and experience level & the route)

Nursery Ravine Hike Trail - Table Mountain - Secret Africa

Photo credit: Flickr: mallix

LOCATION

Much like Skeleton Gorge, the Nursery Ravine hiking trail up Table Mountain boasts two starting points. You can either choose to start your hike from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (pay to enter) or from Cecilia Forest, a little further along Rhodes Drive, along the contour path. If you choose to start your hike from the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, you will be able to get directions at the entrance point to the start of your hike.

HIKE OVERVIEW

The Nursery Ravine hiking trail is located on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, directly above Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Although Nursery Ravine is widely known as one of Table Mountain’s most beautiful hiking trails, it should not be underestimated. The climb up Nursery Ravine almost entirely consists out of steps – +/- 700 steps to be exact – so, you better be ready! However, the exhaustion and burning sensation in your thighs will soon be replaced by the unapologetic natural beauty and breath-taking scenery of the rain forest-like gorge that surrounds you. When hiking up Nursery Ravine, you can also link up with the infamous Skeleton Gorge Table Mountain hiking trail, making for a thrilling hiking experience.

NURSERY RAVINE HIKE – ROUTE DESCRIPTION

If you choose to start your Nursery Ravine hike from Cecilia Forest, park your car at Cecilia Forest on Rhodes Drive. From there, pass the wooden security box at the start of the path and take the first footpath to your right. Continue up this path until you reach the road. Turn right and continue walking until you reach a sharp right turn in the road accompanied by a stream (about 300m from where you joined the road).

You will spot a trail up to your left which runs alongside the stream – Follow this trail until you reach the next road. Once there, you will take another right. Follow this path all the way – The path eventually narrows into a single track and after a few stairs you will reach the border of Kirstenbosch.

You will see a signpost with a map indicating where you are – Continue straight along this contour path. At the second river crossing along the path, you will find Nursery Ravine. Once at Nursery Ravine, you will enter a heavily wooded gorge with multiple steps on the right-hand side of the stream. This is where the REAL climb and hard work begins! While the climb up the steps is demanding (it is +/- 700 steps after all), remember to keep your eyes firmly on the prize and let the magnificent natural beauty and stunning surrounding scenery distract you from the exhaustion and aching muscles. This is actually one of the few sections of indigenous vegetation which still survives on Table Mountain today – so be sure to take it ALL in!

Nursery Ravine Hike Trail - Secret Cape Town

For the bulk of your hike up Nursery Ravine, you will be surrounded by a multitude of beautiful trees, complimented by the sound of the stream rushing down the slopes as well as bright green hues of the moss strewn rocks. It will almost feel like you’ve escaped to some far away jungle oasis right in the heart of the Mother City. As you continue on your path, it eventually leaves the shelter of the forest and opens to a large vertical cliff to your right which you may have noticed whilst on the contour path.

You are now in the final stretch of your hike – finally! The path will start to zig-zag before you reach the final uphill of your hike which is lined with stones and sand. Just before you think it’s all over, you have one more obstacle to conquer – a short, but STEEP set of stairs of course! Once you reach the top of your hike, you will find a small map showing your current location and where you can go from there. A great option is to head right and connect with Skeleton Gorge for a thrilling adventure down Table Mountain. If you decide to head left, the path will take you past the site of the old tree nursery (which gives the ravine its name) and on to the Helly Huchinson & Woodhead reservoir’s.

Nursery Ravine Hike - Secret Cape Town

Photo credit: Flickr: Vaughn

TIPS FOR HIKING NURSERY RAVINE

  • As Nursery Ravine offers hikers tons of shade along the way, it’s a great Table Mountain hike to enjoy any time of the year, even during the Mother City’s hot summer months.
  • Due to its lush natural surroundings and abundant greenery, Nursery Ravine transforms into the ultimate nature lover’s paradise during Cape Town’s green season – also known as its winter season (due to the winter rainfall).
  • Nursery Ravine is a great descent route from many of the climbs/hikes on the East or West side of Table Mountain, especially in summer due to its pleasant and abundant shaded areas.
  • Nursery Ravine is not a good route for dogs or inexperienced hikers – The top of the Ravine involves some rough boulder hopping on large steps. There is also a ladder at the top which dogs cannot climb.