5 beginner hiking trails to try in the Western Cape

If you live in the Western Cape, you’re lucky to be surrounded by sea and mountain. There are so many beautiful hiking trails and wildernesses to discover in the Western Cape we would need to write a book to cover all of them. But if you’ve never been hiking before, it can be a little daunting to know where to start. So we’ve compiled a short list of hiking trails in the Western Cape where you can get all the benefits of regular exercise but also the powerful mental and spiritual health benefits that nature provides. So strap on your pair of Olympic trail shoes and let’s go hiking.

First, quick rules of hiking
– Wear comfortable, appropriate hiking or trail shoes that have good grip and ankle support
– Never hike alone
– Always carry enough water – 2 litres or more, and enough food
– Stay on the path and obey all signage
– Do not disturb the fauna or flora
– Make sure the weather is suitable
– Carry an extra layer of protective clothing in case the weather turns

1. Newlands Forest Station Walk (5km)
For the uninformed Capetonian, you have a lush, dense forest with multiple trails and paths right in your backyard. How lucky you are! The Newlands Forest Station walk is a great introduction to hiking. This walk is easy with gentle inclines and can take between 45 minutes at a race to 2 hours with stops.

2. The Pipe Track (5km)
Staying in Cape Town, the Pipe Track was built in 1887 to supply water from the top of Table Mountain to the city. It is still one of the easiest and most scenic routes on Table Mountain. The trail runs from the top of Kloofnek all along the Camps Bay side of the mountain. There are many trails that lead off the Pipe Track, but if you stick to the trail, you’ll discover an easy, pleasant and straightforward walk with plenty of places to stop and enjoy the views.

3. Kromrivier River Trail (10km)
About an hour outside of Cape Town, in the Limietberg Nature Reserve you’ll find the Kromrivier River Trail. It’s longer than the others mentioned here, but if you’re reasonably fit, then you should be able to finish this trail in under 5 hours. It’s the perfect hike for early summer (if you can tolerate the heat) when a swim along the route will be welcome. There are a few rock pools along the way, which makes this trail so popular. A permit is required and can be obtained from www.capenature.co.za.

4. Swartboskloof–Sosyskloof, Jonkershoek (5,3km)
Also about an hour outside of Cape Town, the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve forms part of the Boland Mountain range and is the keeper of some of the most beautiful hikes in the Western Cape. This scenic route starts with a gentle climb along the western slopes of Swartboskloof for about 2 km and passes through a beautiful indigenous forest. The hike can be completed in between 2 to 3 hours with rest stops and breaks.

5. Cape Clawless Otter Trail, Goukamma Nature Reserve (6,5km)
If you live between Sedgefield and Knysna you’ll be familiar with the Goukamma Nature Reserve. But if you’re just passing through, this is a gentle and incredibly beautiful trail you’ll not want to miss. This hike takes visitors along the southern shoreline of the Groenvlei Lake, home to its elusive namesake. It can be completed within 2 to 3 hours with rest stops and breaks.

Happy trails!