A classic Table Mountain Hike

One of the most classic and well known of the Table Mountain hikes is Smuts Track. This is the trail that takes you from Skeleton Gorge in Kirstenbosch Gardens to the cableway station, via Maclears Beacon. It is a wonderful route for so many reasons but one of the most important is that it gives you the chance to experience the difference between the Eastern wetter slopes of the mountain, the back table, the Plateau and the drier and more dramatic Western and North facing slopes.

Beginning with the beautiful Kirstenbosch Garden the trail takes you steeply up hill through the indigenous “Afro motane” forest. Once out of the gardens the path narrows and continues up hill along side a tumbling stream until becoming too steep for steps you are required to climb 5 easy ladders. After the ladders you walk in the middle of the stream for 500m. In the winter you may get wet feet but for most of the year you can avoid the pools and move easily from rock to rock. There is some very easy scrambling in this section but really no more than a couple of large rocks to climb up.

The ladders of Skeleton Gorge

One of the ladders on Skeleton Gorge

The last section of the climb is back on steps through more forest which opens up just before the top to offer some magnificent views of the Southern Suburbs and False Bay.

The view from Skeleton Gorge

Above the trees on Skeleton Gorge

Once at the top of the gorge, although the biggest part of the climb is over, you certainly still have a lot of work to do. The top of the gorge is 720 metres whilst the highest point of the mountain is 1085 metres. You still therefore climb a further 300 metres in the next hour. You really don’t notice the effort though as it is a wonderful hike through pristine fynbos and each time you turn to look at the views South, more and more of the peninsula become visible. Eventually you can see Hout Bay and the Atlantic as well as False Bay, Silvermine and as far as the Simons Town Mountain.

Eventually reaching Maclears Beacon you get views not only of South Peninsula but also of Robben Island, Table Bay and the West coast of South Africa. Here the vegetation changes for the rich, shoulder high proteas to much harsher restios and more open rock. The path leads you along the North slopes of the mountain with unbelievable views of the city before getting the the cable car.

Table Mountain hikes

The views of the city from Table Mountain


Contact us for more information on Smuts Track and other hikes on Table Mountain