The most popular hike on Table Mountain

It would be impossible to say which is the most popular hike on Table Mountain. There are so many routes of so many different character, view, difficulty etc. However I would guess that Skeleton Gorge must be one of the most loved trails. Although never crowded, on a Saturday morning I would be surprised not to bump into a least a couple of people going up it. The combination of Afromotane forest, running water, ladders to climb and a good steep work out make it just a fantastic way to get onto Table Mountain.

Skeleton Gorge is found above Kirstenbosch Gardens. So the start of the hike is an amble through the Gardens up to the contour path. Once on the contour path you are already surrounded by thick indigenous forest providing some much needed shade in the summer months.

The path off the contour path leads steeply up for about 45 minutes. The path zigzags through the trees following a stream that even in the summer tumbles over the rocks providing much needed water for any dogs you might have with you. Still in the trees after 45 minutes hard climb you come to the first of a series of 5 ladders. These are easy to climb and only those with an absolute terror of heights will find them difficult.

Hiking up Skeleton Gorge

The first half of the hike up Skeleton gorge is a good work out

Once at the top of the ladders the path picks it way actually up the river bed for 20 minutes. For this reason you do need good boots for this route and I do not recommend coming down this way in the winter. There are a couple of very easy scrambles until the path reaches a sort of platform behind a huge rooiels tree. From here the path moves to the right of the stream and after a couple of zigs you get above the trees.

The top of Skeleton Gorge

Finally you get above the trees

From here it is only 15 minutes to the top of the gorge. Here you once again encounter the stream and are surrounded by forest as you reach a cross roads in the path. Straight ahead will take you to the reservoirs and the centre of the back table. Right will take you along Smuts Track in the direction of Maclears Beacon whilst left will take you South towards Constantia Nek. There are numerous routes down whatever direction you choose. All with wonderful views, pristine fynbos and an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a while.

For more information on hiking trails on Table Mountain click here