Six easy hikes for beginners in Cape Town

Cape Town is known for its magnificent hiking. The city is hugged by mountains all around, with ravines, rugged cliffs, forests, waterfalls, and of course the spectacular ocean views. What’s not to love? For those who aren’t super fit, the answer is steep climbs, scary heights, and strenuous exercise. It’s hard to find hikes that are truly suitable for beginners or kids. Luckily, there are a number of really easy hikes to try. So if you’re recovering from an injury, just getting started on your fitness journey, have young kids in tow, or just want to take it easy, here are our top beginner hikes.

Before any hike, make sure you read up about hiking safety tips. Most importantly, never hike alone (groups of four or more are recommended), make sure you have a charged phone with you, tell someone where you’re going and what time you expect to be back, and avoid hiking in foggy or wet weather.

The Pipe Track, Table Mountain

The Pipe Track is one of the easiest Table Mountain hikes. It’s a fair distance, at 6km (3.7mi), but it’s fairly level apart from a few stone steps. The walk starts at the corner of Tafelberg Road and Kloof Nek. Park at Kloof Nek, and then head up the stairs with the fence on your left. After a short climb, you’ll reach the signpost at the base of Kasteelspoort. Here, you’ll find a map of the trails. Follow the Pipe Track and you’ll be treated to some stunning views of Camps Bay, Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll also pass through some beautiful ravines. There are plenty of great places to stop for a water break and admire the views.

Time: About two hours each way (four hours total).
Distance: About 6km (3.7mi).
Difficulty: At 6km, it’s a fairly long walk, but most of the terrain is flat. It may be a bit tough for younger kids, but is a good introductory hike for novices.
Best time of day: Mornings, when there are other hikers around and the path is shady.

Muizenberg Peak, Muizenberg

Muizenberg Peak involves a relatively steep climb alongside a stream, but it’s only about 2km (1.2mi) each way so it’s not too strenuous. There’s also a fun little scramble right before the summit, to really boost your sense of achievement. Park at the sign to Pecks Valley on Boyes Drive. Go through the stone archway at the Peaks Valley sign, and up the stone steps. At the top, turn right onto the contour path. From there, there’s a gentle gradient until you get near the stream, when it gets a little steeper. Finally, you’ll come to a junction, and see Muizenberg Peak signposted to the right. Another 15 minutes of light scrambling and you’re at the peak. The views from the top are amazing: you’ll look out over Muizenberg, all the way to Gordon’s Bay on a clear day! Retun the way you came, or follow the other path from the summit for great views of the other side of the mountain on the way down (keeping in mind that this will make the hike longer).

Note that this trail is fairly quiet and can be unsafe. Go in large groups and be vigilant. 

Time: About an hour each way (two hours total).
Distance: About 4km (2.5mi).
Difficulty: There’s a bit of scrambling and some steep gradients, but it’s good for beginner hikers and the views make it worthwhile! It’s not suitable for very young kids.
Best time of day: Weekend mornings or afternoons.

Kleinplaas Dam, Simon’s Town

The Kleinplaas Dam trail is super easy for all fitness levels. From Red Hill Road, turn onto the road signposted “Brookland Water Scheme”. Drive on for 1.9km (1.2mi) until you come to a parking lot on your left. Park here, and take the jeep track after the boom. From here, it’s a relatively flat hike past boulders and fynbos for about 25 minutes, before you arrive at the dam. There are some nice big rocks and a little beach by the water where you can relax for a bit before heading back the same way. The whole walk is just 3km (1.9mi), and there are no steep sections. It’s a good hike for kids.

Please note that this hiking trail is often very quiet, so pay attention to safety tips and go in a group.

Time: About 25 minutes each way (50 minutes total).
Distance: 3km (unless you add a bit of walking at the dam itself).
Difficulty: This hike’s a breeze, and suitable for people of all ages and abilities. It’s also on a jeep track, so it’s very level footing.
Best time of day: Weekend mornings, when there are more people around.

Kloof Corner, Table Mountain

Kloof Corner is by far the easiest hike on Table Mountain. It’s short, simple, and offers amazing views, especially considering how little you have to climb! It’s fantastic for sunsets, overlooking Lion’s Head and the whole of Table Bay. Drive toward the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, but park at the bottom of Tafelberg Road. From here, you can take the signposted path the Kloof Corner. It’s under a kilometre (0.6mi) up, so it’s suitable for people of any level and age. The path is quite steep, but it’s only 20 minutes to the top.

Time: About 20 minutes each way (under an hour total).
Distance: 1.8km (1.1mi)
Difficulty: It’s quite steep but short, and is a good hike for kids and beginners alike.
Best time of day: Sunset, when there are more people around.

Elephant’s Eye, Silvermine

The best place to start this hike is from the parking lot closest to the dam, although you may need to park further away on weekends as it gets very busy. Keep that in mind, because parking can make a big difference to the distance and elevation you’ll have to tackle! There’s an entrance fee at the gate, unless you have a Wild Card or Green Card. From the parking lot, follow the sign to the Elephant Cave Walk, with the dam on your right as you head uphill. At the T-Junction, you’ll turn left onto the Jeep track and wind your way up the mountain. Look out for another sign to Elephants Eye and take that path. It’ll lead you through a forest and open out into some great aerial views of the forests below. You’ll then reach a guarded lookout hut with a nearby the path signposted to Elephants Eye Cave. The large cave is a great spot to rest in the shade and enjoy a picnic, but keep in mind it’ll be rather busy, especially on weekends. Embrace the crowds: hiking is much safer in numbers! Pack swimming gear for a cool-down swim in the Silvermine Dam on your way back.

Time: About an hour to 90 minutes each way (excluding stops). Allow at least four hours to include a swim or picnic.
Distance: About 6km (3.7mi) depending where you park.
Difficulty: It’s a fairly long walk, but the gradient is relatively gentle. If you take it slow, it’s great for kids and beginners alike. Plus there’s the chance to swim in the dam and picnic in the cave, which makes it a firm favourite hike for kids.
Best time of day: Mornings and late afternoons: there’s almost no shade on the trail and it gets very hot.

Newlands Forest, Newlands

Newlands Forest is a great option for beginners and kids because the trails are shady and you can choose how far you go. There are loads of trails and the magical pine forest atmosphere appeals to kids. You’ll find plenty of runners, families, and dog-walkers here throughout the day. The map below shows the hike up to the Breakfast Rock at the Saddle, which can be pretty tough going but is rewarding for the views. Alternately, take the contour path, or just walk as far as you feel comfortable going. Choose your own adventure through the shady forest and have fun exploring! Just pay attention to the paths you choose, as forest hikes can get a little disorienting.

Time: About 2-3 hours to Breakfast Rock, if you choose that route.
Distance: About 7km (4.3mi) to Breakfast Rock.
Difficulty: Entirely up to you! Go as far or as high as you feel you can; it’s a satisfying walk/hike either way.
Best time of day: Any time is good, but stick to peak times for safety (mornings and after work or weekends.

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