Winter Hiking: Exploring the Great Outdoors
You may think that winters are not the best time to head outdoors, but with the mild Cape climate bringing plenty of warm days, this time of year is perfect for getting back to nature. The scenery to be found across the peninsula is at its most glorious in winter too, with verdant landscapes, endless expanses of sky plus a myriad hiking and walking trails to explore. Get those walking shoes on, recharge your camera and set forth into the lush forests, nature reserves and woodlands of Cape Town that are waiting to be discovered.
Cape Town Hiking Trails
In the mood to get closer to nature? These hiking routes cater to all levels of fitness and adventure, from gentle walks to challenging climbs. Try the following routes to get started:
- Lion’s Head – overlooking the city on one side and the ocean on the other, Lion’s Head is a steep but fairly easy route that takes you to the top and back. The starting point is on Signal Hill Road, with an average hike taking up to three hours. As an added bonus, this hike is also popular during full moon for a unique night-time adventure on clear evenings.
- Newlands Forest – there are a number of great trails within this beautiful forest, with clearly marked routes and options to suit all hikers. Try the Woodcutters Trail for a diverse and somewhat challenging route, a gentler walk to the Forest Station or even the spectacular Contour Path for a challenging route that is well worth the effort. Most trails start from the lower parking lot off Dewaal Drive.
- Cecelia Forest – situated near Constantia Nek, this forest is perfect for gentle walks, with well-worn paths taking you across valleys, cliffs and other diverse terrains. There are also many small streams and as legend has it, forest fairies that live within these magical surroundings. Parking can be done at the lower level or at Constantia Nek.
- Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – this well-known garden is the access point for one of Cape Town’s most famous hikes… the breath-taking Skeleton Gorge trail that takes you into Nursery Ravine. This hike is a good challenge for those who are fit and keen for adventure, boasting amazing twists and turns that comprise rocky river bed, dirt road, steep stairs and other ways to navigate through the route.
- Silvermine Nature Reserve – there are many excellent trails to explore within Silvermine, which is famous for its massive reservoir and diverse scenic landscapes. Echo Valley is one of the best routes here, starting from Boyes Drive and continuing along wooden boardwalks to see the first glimpses of the False Bay coastline.
Essential Hiking Tips
Before you begin any hike in Cape Town, it is important to keep safety first of mind. Do not attempt any hikes on your own – even if you are in great shape. Having a local friend or guide will ensure that you do not get lost in the midst of a forest (or on the top of a mountain!), and will also give you some insight into the plants and animals you may see on your route. Always wear sun protection and keep a water bottle, warm jacket and camera in your backpack. Take some snacks for longer walks too, and don’t forget to wear suitable shoes for your Cape Town hiking adventure to avoid blisters!