Best Hiking Trails In Cape Town For Beginners

Cape Town’s hiking scene is thriving, thrilling and like nothing you’ve experienced before, and you better believe it encourages absolutely EVERYONE to get in on ALL the hiking action.

Going hiking is by far one of the top things to do in Cape Town. Let’s be honest, there is no better way to explore all the scenic beauty, landscapes, mountain ranges, and natural gems the Mother City has to offer than by going on the ultimate hiking adventure.

It’s no secret that the Western Cape is known and celebrated for its vast variety of beautiful and exciting hiking trails. Suited to ALL fitness and experience levels – the Western Cape has something for every avid hiker at heart – that means YOU too! Even if you’ve never hiked a day in your life, Cape Town’s hiking scene welcomes you with open arms.

Here are some of the best hiking trails in Cape Town for beginners that you should absolutely add to your Cape Town hiking adventure bucket-list!

Kloof Corner Hiking Trail | Table Mountain

Best Hiking Trails In Cape Town For Beginners
  • Difficulty: Easy – moderate level of difficulty
  • Fitness level required: Low – moderate level of fitness required
  • Start point: Tafelberg Road
  • Average time to the top: About 20 – 40 minutes each way (depending on your fitness level)
  • Approximate route distance: +/- 1.5 km
  • Child-friendly: Yes
  • Pet-friendly: Yes. However, Table Mountain National Park is under the jurisdiction of SANParks. This requires that dog-walkers have a Level 1 My Activity Permit (R305 per year).

The iconic Kloof Corner Hiking Trail is by far one of the best hiking trails in Cape Town for beginners eager to kick-off their Cape Town hiking journey. Considered one of the easiest hikes on the Table Mountain chain, as well as one of the most popular and beautiful trails in Cape Town, Kloof Corner is definitely worth all the hype and praise it’s getting!

While the Kloof Corner hiking trail definitely includes a few steep sections, making you work for it just a tiny bit, overall it is a simple and short hike with a wide and stable path. This makes it a great hiking trail for kids eager to explore the outdoors, beginners and hikers of all ages, fitness, and experience levels.

**BONUS: Kloof Corner is one of the best sunrise and sunset spots in Cape Town. If you’re looking to experience something extra special, going on a sunrise and/or sunset hike up Kloof Corner is a bucket-list worthy experience in every way. Paired with a beautiful view of Camps Bay, Lion’s Head, the City Bowl, and Atlantic Ocean, its pure magic and guaranteed to knock your hiking socks right off!

Lion’s Head Loop Hiking Trail

Best Hiking Trails In Cape Town For Beginners - Lions Head Loop Hiking Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Fitness level required: Low level of fitness required
  • Start point: Turn left at the Lion’s Head base
  • Average time to the top: Approximately 75-minute walk (depending on your fitness and experience level) | Extremely fit individual can easily conquer it in record time
  • Approximate route distance: +/- 5.26km
  • Child-friendly: Yes
  • Pet-friendly: Yes

The Lion’s Head Loop Hike is the perfect Cape Town hiking trail for novice hikers as well as beginner trail runners eager to take it to the next level. As the Lion’s Head Loop trail consists of mostly flat sections, with very little uphill, it is regarded as one of Cape Town’s more effortless and easy hiking trails. This in turn makes it one of the best hikes in Cape Town for beginners as well as families looking to do something fun, active, and exciting.

The Lion’s Head Loop Hiking Trail is a great hike for any and all avid nature lovers. As the trail circles the base of the famous Lion’s Head, you will pass through veld, pine forests, and protea forests. This gives nature enthusiasts the amazing opportunity to experience and explore the rich and vibrant biodiversity and vast and varied flora at the base of Lion’s Head as well as the Table Mountain National Park.

**BONUS: Sensational ocean views awaits you on your Lion’s Head Loop Hiking Trail.

The Pipe Track Hiking Trail | Table Mountain

Best Hiking Trails In Cape Town For Beginners - Pipe Track
  • Difficulty: Easy level of difficulty
  • Level of fitness required: Low – Moderate level of fitness required
  • Start point: The junction of Tafelberg Road and Kloof Nek (you can park your car in the Kloof Nek parking lot)
  • End point: Camps Bay
  • Average time to the top: 2 – 4 hours (depending on your fitness and experience level) | The route is easy-going, although it becomes slightly tougher after passing by Slangolie Ravine.
  • Approximate route distance: +/- 6km
  • Pet-friendly: Yes. However, Table Mountain National Park is under the jurisdiction of SANParks. This requires that dog-walkers have a Level 1 My Activity Permit (R305 per year).
  • Child-friendly: Yes

With incredible views over Camps Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, Lions Head, and the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range, the Pipe Track is a definite hiking favourite. The Pipe Track hiking trail is a pretty effortless and easy-going route as its generally all on the flat. This is a major bonus for first timers, undeniably making the Pipe Track trail one of the best hiking trails in Cape Town for beginners as well as those looking to enjoy a more relaxed and laid-back hiking experience. However, if you choose to start your Pipe Track hike from Camps Bay, the initial climb does require some effort. Irrespective of the steeper start, it is still an extremely doable hike perfectly suited to novice hikers as well as avid hikers of all fitness and experience levels.

The Pipe Track follows a path adjacent to Table Mountain between Kloof Nek and Kasteelpoort. While the trail does not go all the way to the summit, it hugs the side of Table Mountain’s sandstone cliffs and travels through the western slope ravines. This not only gives you the opportunity to enjoy one of Cape Town’s most popular hiking trails, but admire the vast, varied, and beautiful surrounding scenery and array of fauna and flora.

**Extra Note: Did you know that the Pipe Track hiking trail follows a pipeline that was built for the sole purpose of servicing another pipeline used to supply 19th-century Cape Town with water from the Disa Gorge? It is also where the trail got its name.

Table Mountain Contour Path | Table Mountain

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Fitness level required: Low level of fitness required
  • Start point: Numerous entry points on Tafelberg Road / Kloof Corner
  • Average time to the top: +/- 1 hour
  • Approximate route distance: About 5km from Kloof Corner to Platteklip Gorge

While it may be one of Table Mountain’s lesser-known hikes, the Table Mountain Contour Path hiking trail is an incredibly pleasant, laid-back, and easily accessible hike and/or trail run (for the fitter bunch). Boasting stunning sweeping views of the beautiful Mother City, Atlantic Ocean, and Lion’s Head, the Table Mountain Contour Path is an exciting hike that will be thoroughly enjoyed by people / hikers of all fitness and experience levels.

You can join the Contour Path hiking trail from numerous entry points along Tafelberg Road. One of the best routes / entry points is to park at Kloof Corner, hike the 20-minute trail up the path until you reach the contour path. From there, turn left and continue to follow the path for as long as you like. This flat path will eventually join up with the famous Platteklip Gorge Table Mountain hiking trail, but it also extends all the way to Newland’s Forest and beyond.

As the Table Mountain Contour Path has numerous entry points as well as extends and joins up with several other trails, how far you want to venture on your hiking adventure is entirely up to you. Once you’ve reached your limit, you can turn back at any point and simply retrace your steps or descent to Tafelberg Road.

Boomslang Cave Hike | Kalk Bay

Best Hiking Trails In Cape Town For Beginners - Boomslang Cave Hike
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Fitness level required: Low – Moderate level of fitness required
  • Start point: Boyes Drive – Echo Valley
  • End Point: Boomslang Cave above Kalk Bay
  • Average time to the top: Approximately 2 – 3 hours (depending on your fitness and experience level)
  • Approximate route distance: +/- 3.9km
  • Child-friendly: Yes

The infamous Boomslang Cave Hike is one of Cape Town’s more thrilling and adventurous hiking trails. As it’s a relatively easy hike, it is perfect for hiking first-timers, families with kids, or adventure seekers looking for something exciting to do in Cape Town.

Boomslang Cave is located right above Kalk Bay and tunnels all the way through the mountain, undoubtedly making it an exhilarating bucket-list worthy experience in every way.

Echo Valley marks the start of your Boomslang Cave hiking adventure. From there it is a relatively easy climb as you simply follow the path through Echo valley for about an hour until you reach the legendary Boomslang Cave. Once you reach the cave, the REAL fun and games begin!

In order to enter Boomslang Cave you will need to get down on your hands and knees, After a bit of crawling, shuffling, and navigating your way around, the cave opens up, leading to a larger chamber. As the Boomslang Cave is pretty dark with very little light coming through, taking a torch or headlamp with you on your hike is highly recommended in order for you to properly explore the labyrinth of tunnels that exist within the cave. Once you make your way through the cave and come out on the other side, you will not only be able to tick a down-right thrilling adventure off your Cape Town hiking bucket-list, but you will be extremely well rewarded for your hiking efforts and daring adventurous spirit with a breath-taking view over Noordhoek and the vibrant False Bay Coastline.

**BONUS: As the glorious False Bay coastline is one of the best places in the Western Cape to see Cape Town’s magnificent marine life as well as the renowned Marine Big5 – Cape Fur Seals, African Penguins, dolphins, Southern Right Whales, and the Mola Mola sunfish – be sure to keep an eye out for some sensational marine life sightings.

Lion’s Head Hiking Trail

Best Hiking Trails In Cape Town For Beginners - Lions Head
  • Difficulty: Easy – moderate
  • Fitness level required: Mild – Moderate
  • Start point: The Lion’s Head hiking trail starts at the car park on Signal Hill Road. Follow the trail which circles around the mountain to get to the top.
  • End point: The end point of the hike is the Lion’s Head Summit. Once you reach the summit, make your way down the same way until you reach the initial starting point.
  • Approximate route distance: The total length of the trail is 5,5 km (3,4 miles) both ways
  • Average time to the summit: Between 1 – 3 hours (depending on fitness level)
  • Total elevation: 669 meters (2,195 feet)
  • Best time to hike: Sunrise & sunset

Standing tall at 669 meters above sea level, showcasing a beautiful panoramic view of the Mother City, Atlantic Ocean, Table Mountain and beyond, Lion’s Head has established itself as one of the most popular Cape Town hiking trails for both hiking first-timers and avid hikers from around the world. In fact, hiking Lion’s Head is considered somewhat of a rite of passage.

As Lion’s Head forms part of the renowned Table Mountain National Park, it boasts a rich biodiversity and diverse fauna and flora display – Making it the ultimate nature lover’s paradise. Besides being one of the most sought-after hiking trails in the Mother City, Lion’s Head forms a vital part of Cape Town’s topography – Standing loud and proud amongst Table Mountain and Signal Hill.

The Lion’s Head hiking trail is really easy to spot. All you need to do is look across the parking lot on Signal Hill road for a wide red gravel trail. The route is clearly marked, ensuring you won’t easily get lost along the way, making for an enjoyable and exciting hiking experience.

An interesting fact that most people don’t know, especially if it’s your first-time hiking Lion’s Head, is that there are actually two routes that lead to the summit – The left route, also known as the spiral route, and the right route, which is the steeper, more challenging route.

Left Route: The easier, safer spiral route

This route is considered the safest and easiest way to reach the Lion’s Head summit. The trail going up Lion’s Head is referred to as a screwtop/spiral, which essentially means that you will be circling the mountain in order to get to the top, allowing for an easier hike overall.

This route follows a roundabout footpath that leads to the top of Lion’s Head, avoiding all the challenging climbs, steep ascents and descents, and daunting chains and ladders altogether. The Lion’s Head spiral trail is the recommended route for first-time hikers, anyone that’s afraid of heights, hikers / individuals with a below average level of fitness, as well as families with young kids and/or dogs.

Right Route: The more challenging route

The route to the right is perfect for avid hikers, thrill seekers and adventurers eager to conquer the Lion’s Head summit and tick a thrilling hiking adventure off their Cape Town hiking bucket-list. This route is far more challenging than the spiral route and is not recommended for the faint-hearted or those afraid of heights. 

As it’s a faster, steeper, and more challenging hike to the top, you will need to make your way up several steep steps and make use of chains and ladders to ultimately reach the summit. You will also be required to navigate a few sheer rock faces – which will undoubtedly get all the daring, adventurous, and thrill seeking hikers excited!

Once you reach the summit, you will have the opportunity to roam free at your own leisure, take it all in, enjoy the fruits of your labour, and admire the spectacular panoramic view – it is truly sensational!

**BONUS: Lion’s Head is one of the best sunrise and sunset spots in Cape Town. If you’re looking to experience something extra special, going on a sunrise and/or sunset hike up Lion’s Head is a bucket-list worthy experience in every way. For an extra dose of excitement, you can also opt to go on a moonlight hike up Lion’s Head – How incredible is that?

Tips for hiking in Cape Town

Best Hiking Trails In Cape Town For Beginners
  • It is crucial to wear appropriate / proper hiking attire and gear when hiking any of Cape Town’s trails, especially hiking shoes that have a good grip.
  • Be prepared for all weather conditions when embarking on your hiking adventure. This is Cape Town after all, which means the weather can flip at the drop of a hat. While your hiking adventure might start off sunny it certainly doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. It is recommended that you take a jacket or warm piece of clothing along on any Cape Town hike as you never really know which way the Cape Town weather will sway.
  • ALWAYS stay on the trail and do not wander off onto obscure unmarked paths. Make sure you take note of signs that warn of danger ahead, and most importantly, don’t ignore them! Even if you are an experienced hiker, rescue missions happen far more often than you think.
  • It is crucial that you never hike alone and always go with a group of people. Never split up from your hiking group, always stick together, and adjust to the pace of the slowest hiker. That way everyone remains on track and there is a sense of motivation and comradery among the group
  • It is essential to be extra cautious as well as take the necessary precaution when you find yourself hiking in less than ideal weather conditions.
  • Make sure you pack plenty of water as well as some power snacks to keep you properly hydrated and your energy levels high throughout the hike.
  • When going on any of Cape Town’s hiking trails, it is important to plan ahead. This way you will have a general idea of what lies ahead and where you need to go. Planning your hike accordingly will also ensure that you allow / allocate enough time for both the ascend and descend.
  • It is important that you choose the right hiking trail for you that is suited to your personal fitness and experience level. Never take on more than you can handle.
  • Always be responsible and be aware of crime.
  • It is extremely important that you know what to do in case of an emergency. In the event of an injury, threatening weather conditions or an emergency, stay in one place and find a spot that offers some form of shelter. In the case of an injury, do not move the injured person unless they are in a dangerous position. Don’t leave the injured person alone or unattended. If possible, send two people for help (depending on the number of people you’re hiking with), while someone remains behind to supervise. When you do go looking for emergency help or assistance, make sure you take detailed notes of where the injured person is, as well as look out for landmarks to navigate your way back to the spot. In the case of a snakebite (Table Mountain National Park is home to prolific wildlife and reptile species), immobilize the person immediately and lay them flat on their back. Do not give them any food or water. Get help and most importantly keep the victim as calm as possible – one of the top factors in the progression of snakebite symptoms is shock and adrenaline. If you get lost anywhere along your hiking route, stop, and retrace your steps. If you can’t find your original path, move down broad, open slopes. If conditions become more threatening as you go, revert to taking shelter and seeking help.

Those venturing into the Table Mountain National Park should have the following emergency numbers on hand:

  • Emergencies: 021 480 7700
  • Medical emergencies from a cellphone: 112
  • Table Mountain National Park: 021 957 4700/ 0861 106 417
  • Wilderness Search and Rescue: 021 948 9900

@safetymountain is also an incredibly useful resource for hikers. This free safety tracking service allows you to notify local trackers of your contact details, intended route and travel time via WhatsApp. You are also able to provide hourly updates on your progress as well as notify trackers when you are safely off the mountain.

About The Author: Bianca Bunge

I am a Cape Town based Travel Blogger & aspiring writer. Travelling is the ULTIMATE joy, it allows us to lose ourselves & find ourselves all at the same time, is there anything better than that? PURE BLISS!! And being a Travel Blogger allows me to share my love of travelling, especially my LOVE of Cape Town, with all of you. The Mother City truly did steal my heart, and perhaps she'll steal yours too! I also love the ocean, going on adventures & wine, I REALLY love wine! Join me on my mission to discover EVERY little bit of Cape Town, and what a glorious adventure it will be!
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