A circular hike on top of Table Mountain

If you are looking for a really satisfying day hike on Table Mountain but don’t really want to schlepp all the way up. Then there is a hike for you. By taking the cable car both up and down the mountain and walking around the reservoirs on top you can do a good 4 to 5 hour hike, still with some climbing (it is still not a walk in the park) But you will be able to see the absolute best of Table Mountain and avoid the heavy cardio vascular climb at the beginning.

The cable car starts to operate at 8am, so best get there early. Its also best to buy a ticket on line before you go, but even taking this precaution you may have to queue a bit before going up. Once on top escape “touristville” as quickly as you can by heading away from the shop/cafe and towards Platteklip Gorge. After 10 minutes you come to a steep down hill as the plateau descends into Platteklip Gorge. Stop to admire the amazing view through the canyon before continuing up the other side and onto the Eastern plateau.

Platteklip Gorge. Table Mountain

The view down Platteklip Gorge


If you have the time turn left 5 minutes after you leave Platteklip Gorge and follow the less recommended path to Maclears Beacon. This route takes you right along the cliff edge overlooking the city. The views are outstanding. This route is not recommended in strong winds or in wet conditions, but if its a nice day its only scary to those with a real phobia of heights and so well worth taking.

table top view

Overlooking Table Bay from Table Mountain

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly you can escape the crowds. The area around the cable car can be absolute pandemonium with 65 people in every cable car, and up to 10 cable cars loads can reach the top in an hour. Most though don’t venture beyond the Western Plateau. A few do do the 2 hour circular hike to Maclears Beacon, but once you had onto the back table you may well see no one else for the day.

Half an hour on this cliff edge path will bring you to Maclears Beacon. The highest point on Table Mountain. From here you not only get the city views but can now also see the entire Back Table, Southern suburbs, False Bay, and much of the Table Mountain Chain. From here you really see the extent of Table Mountain and reazise there is a lot more to it than just the cliffs overlooking the city.

From here you now descend 300m in height down onto the back of Table Mountain. There are a couple of very minor scrambles but nothing difficult. After 15 minutes you pass “dog head rock”, then another 10 minutes you pass a path off to the right. Don’t take this route but go straight ahead and continue down hill. After 40 minutes you pass a small bridge that crosses window gorge and then 15 minutes further on the path descends into Skeleton Gorge.

At the top of the gorge turn right and go to the middle of the mountain. 5 minutes down this path you will be amazed to be walking in a sand dune and the next moment will be on a sandy beach at the edge of the Hely Hutchinson reservoir. Find the small path that leads you around the East side of the reservoir and at the next junction turn right. This will lead you to the cement road. Used by the water authorities to access the reservoirs. Turn left and continue down the side of the Woodhead reservoir. Turn off the path at the end and cross the reservoir wall.

The views down into Orange Kloof are quite incredible. You can see the afromotane forest that lines the gorge. So different from the rest of the mountain. On the other side of the wall, go straight ahead past the scout and mountain club huts. This path will join with the 12 Apostles path. Turn right onto this path and begin your ascent back to the cable car.

The climb is gradual initilly before a steep climb takes you over a rise and drops into “the valley of the red gods.” A truly beautiful little valley with a trickle of water that runs all year around in a small cave in the middle. The path takes you across the valley and climbs steeply again up the other side. Once again the views of the Peninsula stretching out behind you make a wonderful excuse for lots of breaks.

Table Mountain hikes

Take regular breaks to enjoy the views

20 minutes after leaving the valley of the red gods the cable car comes into view. To get there though you have to drop down into Echo valley and up the other side. This final climb has a couple of ladders to negotiate as the path does a couple of switchbacks to gain height.

A ladder on Table Mountain

The last climb involves a couple of easy ladders

20 more minutes and you emerge right opposite Platteklip Gorge. Turn right for that final short haul up to the Western Plateau and you are back where you started.

Contact us for more information on this and other hikes on Table Mountain