We have been climbing Table Mountain for a couple of years now… it all began as a dream of one of my kids… the thing is, as a child I went up and down the mountain all the time, really: All.the.time. I walked my dog up and down the mountain every single day and it was literally a hop and a skip to the top. And then I had eight kids and climbing Table Mountain couldn’t have been further from my mind. That was until one of the gang said he had a dream to get to the very top of Table Mountain… I had the idea that it would be a hop and a skip… I was totally wrong.
After that we made it an annual family event… to gather together and climb to the top of the mountain. Turns out Table Mountain is a real live mountain that warrants a lot of respect, we only climb it once or twice a year… but we do work hard on other hikes in our area, at least a hike a week, to keep ourselves good and ready for our annual trek. Last week I posted a collection of family hikes in Cape Point and Silvermine and a couple of folk asked if I could do the same for hiking on Table Mountain… so here is our definitive guide…
Firstly, Table Mountain is part of a mountain range, there is a lot of clambering and climbing to do… and there are plenty of ambles and hikes to do on the mountain that take you nowhere near the “actual top of the mountain,” which are a whole lot of fun… in fact there really is something for every level of fitness. Whatever hike you do you need to be well prepared… Se7en+1 Steps to Great Hiking with Kids.
Se7en + 1 Family Hikes on Table Mountain
Hike #1: From the Cable Car Station to Maclear’s Beacon – Easy Family Walk
If you are visiting Cape Town, or you have young children with a dream, who desperately want to get to the very top of the mountain I would highly recommend saving for a trip up the Cableway car… and then take the hour long walk across the top of the mountain to Maclear’s Beacon. It is a fairly easy walk, one with a huge sense of accomplishment because you get to the top of the mountain. We would highly recommend this as a great family walk.
Hike #2: Platteklip Gorge – Not for the faint hearted.
Otherwise, if you want to hike all the way from the ground up… and you are fairly fit then you can hike up Platteklip Gorge, which for some reason is very popular with tourists and is considered to be the shortest trip up… it may be short but it is also steep. Very steep. This was our first hike as a family with a goal to get to the top of Table Mountain, our youngest was 4 and he had no problem leaping up the mountain. I on the other hand battled all the way. It is a zig zag stone staircase taking you vertically up the mountain. It was a lot harder than I remembered it to be in my student days… and while this is one of the most popular hikes up the mountain it is nowhere near the easiest hike. I am guessing that if you get an early start (we didn’t), and take your time that it is totally do-able. This route takes you to very close to the Cable Way station, and then you have another hour’s walk (the hike mentioned above) across the top of the mountain on tired legs to get to the very top of the mountain.
Hike #3: The Pipe Track, KasteelPoort to Maclear’s Beacon – A full day’s hike.
After our battle up Platteklip we gave ourselves a year to relaunch Our Journey from Amblers to Hikers Step by Step… and we chose a different route up Table Mountain. This route is very pleasant with beautiful views of Cape Town’s beaches… this was a great hike, there is lots to look at on the way up Kasteelpoort and with a little fitness we were able to get up fairly easily. The up is of course up… there is no way round that, but the surroundings are lovely. Like most hikes it takes you up and across the mountain top to the Reservoirs, and then there is a last push up to Maclear’s Beacon.
Hike #4: Up Skeleton and Down Nursery – A Favourite Family Hike.
This is one of my favourite childhood hikes, I did it often with my father and later with my dog… and it did not disappoint, it is wonderful. This hike is suitable for family’s whose kids are beyond the “carry me” stage and ready for a little adventure. Skeleton Gorge, just the name sounds formidable, but honestly if I can do it… and enjoy it, then anyone can. At the top of Skeleton Gorge, you will find the reservoirs which is always a good place for lunch, and then head either up Smut’s track to Maclear’s Beacon or we chose to go down Nursery Ravine.
Hike #5: Se7en’s Hike Around Junction Peak Up to the Aqueduct – Save this one for Disa Season.
Earlier this year I smashed my arm, but we had a hike scheduled and I was desperate to go… we just so happened to have a fabulous guide and he organised a drive up to the reservoirs… and from there instead of the more common hike up Smut’s Track to Maclear’s Beacon we took a more interesting route around Junction Peak and got to see the famous February Disas. This was spectacular and well worth enduring the pain of a freshly broken arm.
Hike #6: Constantia Nek to the Reservoirs – The Easiest Route Up.
This was the hike we did this past year and for some reason I didn’t blog about it, I will have to remedy that but meanwhile, you can see all the photographs here. It is a really easy hike, not the most exciting and up being the word. You simply follow the Jeep Track all the way up the mountain… start early it is pleasant enough, and slow and steady gets you to the top… the weather turned cold really quickly when we got to the top so instead of pressing on to Maclear’s Beacon we explored some of the paths close to the Reservoirs before heading down again. If you are looking for a quick and easy way up to the reservoirs, then this is the way to go.
Hike #7: Newlands Forest – Great for an Afternoon Amble.
If you are just looking for an easy walk, and you have a free morning or afternoon and you want to declare that you have been hiking on the slopes of one of the Se7en Wonders of the World, then look no further than Newland’s Forest… heaps of paths, places to explore and just an around visit into the great outdoors without having to go too far.
Hike #7+1: Lion’s Head – A Great Alternative.
If you are looking for an adventure, and need to get to the top of a mountain, in full view of Table Mountain, but maybe not as high as Table Mountain… then Lion’s Head is a great alternative. We have seen a lot of tourists lurch up there, totally unprepared – you do need to take a warm top, water to drink and emergency numbers. It is a proper mountain, a real hike, for adventurous spirits and geared for families who are ready for more than an amble.