Hike: Table Mountain- Platteklip Gorge Route
*This is part of our backlog of travel from the last few years. With the efforts and process of graduate school, buying a house, renovating the house, selling the house, buying a new house, renovating that house, full time work, getting a puppy, and a pandemic – we are way behind.
Cape Town’s skyline is primarily made up by mountains rather than skyscrapers. The pinnacle of that skyline is the majestic Table Mountain. Because this serves as a backdrop for the city and can be seen from nearly every location within the greater Cape region, it is no wonder people want to summit it. That being said, Platteklip Gorge is the most direct, most accessible, and therefore the most popular route to summit the iconic Table Mountain.
Getting to the trailhead is one of the easiest experiences of any hike in the greater Cape Town region. The hike is located on Tafelberg road – which is Afrikaans for “Table Mountain”. There is a large sign at the beginning of the trailhead and from there, you can see the route.. all. the. way. up.
The Stats of the Table Mountain Platteklip Gorge Hike
From afar, the trail up Table Mountain looks directly up. The trail is made up of mostly graded switchbacks, which may seem easy – but is is a workout! With just under 2 miles/3.2 kilometers and 2300 feet/700 meters, it is a lot of elevation gain in a short span. Depending on the time of day, the entire gorge can be in direct sun. Please be prepared for a difficult hike and bring lots of hydration!
The Gorge of theTable Mountain Platteklip Gorge Hike
The depth of the gorge is not fully realized until about halfway up. The seemingly vertical hike has more horizontal gain than originally anticipated. As you can see below, the trail is actually carved out on the side of the mountain. This is also when the hike begins to fully show the array of flora that is in the Cape region. Table Mountain is one of the most biologically diverse places in the world and this is a great way to see that.
The Top of Table Mountain
Unlike the top of Skeleton Gorge, the top of Platteklip Gorge rewards hikers with stunning views. Not only can you see the Cape Town city center, the CBD, and Devil’s Peak, but turn around and suddenly you are gifted with views of Seapoint, the 12 Apostles, and all Clifton beaches. You can also see the top of Lion’s Head, which is a strange phenomena if you have hiked Lion’s Head and have previously felt on top of the world!
Business on the top of Table Mountain
There are a few businesses at the top of Table Mountain that serve food and beverages. Adding retail to the top of the mountain is a controversial topic and we are on the fence if we agree with it. To reward ourselves for the arduous hike, we did get a celebratory beer. In addition to hiking to get to the top, there is the cable car that allows people of all ages and physical abilities to experience the beauty of the iconic “peak”. Be aware that the cable car line to get down the mountain can sometimes take hours. If you are going up for sunset, be prepared for a several hour wait.
Overall thoughts on Platteklip Route:
Though the Platteklip route is the most direct, most accessible trail to summit Table Mountain – one time is enough. Max did this route several times as he was trail running, but that was perhaps more out of utility than enjoyment. Skeleton Gorge still remained our favorite!
*Experience was pre-COVID.