Hiking up Skeleton Gorge on

Table Mountain

Do the best hikes for the season through the local knowledge of Ridgway Ramblers Table Mountain Guides

Although the recent warm dry weather in the middle of winter in playing havoc with my dogs moulting cycle and worrying my farmer friends. From a hikers point of view its perfect. Not only because the lack of rain makes hiking altogether more pleasant, but also because we are able to do a lot of routes that are not usually advisable in the winter months.

One of these routes is Skeleton Gorge. This route is one of the most popular on Table Mountain and mentioned in a lot of guide books. However what a lot of the books fail to mention is the fact that for a large section of the walk the path leads through a river bed. This section of the path is about half way up the gorge where it is extremely steep. For this reason going down Skeleton Gorge in the winter is generally not advisable as it can be very slippery. Even going up is often not advised as you may well spend the rest of the day with wet and cold feet.

So at the moment, even though it is the middle of winter Skeleton Gorge is pretty dry and a wonderful way to go either up or down the mountain. It is found above Kirstenbosch Gardens to the right of Castle Rock (facing the mountain) You reach the beginning of the gorge from the contour path.

Skeleton Gorge is to the right of Castle Rock

The first half hour of the path is a steady slog uphill. The path is clear and the steps well spaced. Here you are going through some wonderful indigenous forest with the river running on your right. Its well worth stopping to enjoy the peace of the forest.

The first section of the gorge is steep but straightforward

Eventually you reach the first of a series of 5 ladders. This is where the gorge gets more interesting. Although still steep it seems less of a slog as you have to concentrate a bit more on where to put you feet and where to actually go.

One of the ladders on Skeleton Gorge

The ladders are straight forward, although the fall on your right could be severe so if it is wet be carefull. At the top you now have to follow the river bed for half an hour or so. The path is not always clear so you basically have to pick your way up over some large boulders and at one point over a fallen tree. Your destination is a huge old rooiels tree on a platform of rocks.

Looking back down the gorge

The path now winds its way up on the right of the river. At times you are close to the sides of the gorge which run with water down beautifully mossy slopes. It can still be  wet and slippery here although now the path is clear again.

Eventually after once more crossing the river (its more a stream here at the top. You can get quite easily across)  you get clear of the trees. Stopping to admire the view is an absolute must. Then another 15 minutes brings you to the top of the gorge.

The view from the top of Skeleton Gorge