Much more to Table Mountain than ride to the top
The park has a world-class range of trails suitable for all - from the casual walker to the super- fit adventure hiker. But there are also a variety of other activities.
Hikes on the mountain are highly rated as outdoor activities by Trip Advisor and others. The most popular five are:
1. Lion’s Head Walk:
A spiral walk from Signal Hill Drive, below Lion’s Head and rated relatively easy. The view from the summit gives a sweeping 360° view taking in the city bowl; Devil’s Peak and the front face of Table Mountain; Twelve Apostles; the Atlantic seaboard, Camps Bay and Clifton to Sea Point and Green Point; Table Bay and Robben Island.
2. The Pipe Track Walk
The Pipe Track is named after a pipeline built to carry water from Disa Gorge in Table Mountain’s Back Table, via the Woodhead Tunnel through the mountain in Slangolie Ravine, to the Molteno Reservoir during the late 19th century. Starts at the junction of Tafelberg Road and Kloof Nek.
3. Platteklip to the Upper Cableway Station
Very vertical, this is the most direct route to the top of the mountain and very popular. The going is tough so it is not recommended for novice walkers. Don’t rush it, but stop along the way for views of Cape Town and Table Bay below. You can return by cable car.
4. Upper Cableway Station to Maclear’s Beacon
From the Upper Cableway Station, take the main path to the Western Table. Follow the trail but do not attempt in misty conditions.
5. Skeleton Gorge to Maclear’s Beacon (the Smuts Track)
This popular walk, especially in summer, starts at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and follows Skeleton Gorge. It is a steep climb and includes a wooden ladder and rocky steps.
This park is one of the few that allow dogs. But do take note of restrictions around dog walking to minimise the impact of dogs on biodiversity of the mountain, including protecting indigenous animals.
The steep slopes that characterise much of the Table Mountain National Park make it ideal for mountain biking enthusiasts.
Because of the high impact and potential negative impact, participants must respect the biodiversity of the park and stick to designated areas where this activity is allowed.
Popular areas include parts of the Tokai Plantation and Silvermine (accessible from Gate One).
Other activities include hang-and paragliding. Again management is anxious to protect the environment and one must take care not to disturb raptors that may be nesting or breeding on cliff faces.
There are numerous designated launch areas including Lion’s Head and Silvermine.
Scuba diving, surfing, windsurfing, kite boarding and rock climbing are some of the exciting activities the park has to offer.
Visit www.tmnp.org for terms and conditions.
For visitors seeking a more relaxed option, there are many picnic/braai areas. For more on the hikes and where to stay, go to www.sanparks.org/parks/table_mountain/