Platteklip Gorge Hike
Hike Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours
Distance: About 2.5 km / 1.6 miles
Platteklip Gorge Elevation Gain: 680 meters / 2230 feet
Cost: R950 per person
Platteklip Gorge hike is the oldest, easiest and most direct route to the summit and therefore also the most popular, so expect company along the way. Follows a well-constructed trail up a deep ravine on the iconic front face of the mountain, featuring imposing cliffs in its upper reaches. Tops out near the upper cable station. Extension: from the ravine head, traverse the length of the famous table top summit to the highest point on the mountain for more great views, an extra 1.5 hours and R350 pp.
Platteklip Gorge Hike Difficulty
Technically easy: minimal use of hands and minimal exposure to heights. Physically strenuous: you need a decent level of fitness to enjoy the route. If unfit, you need to be motivated and determined, as you will likely take strain, possibly a lot. Starting late in summer makes the route gruelling (even to the fit) due to the heat – the main reason why we start early (5.30am).
The route follows a well-defined trail, rocky and mostly uneven, with big rock steps on the steep sections. Minimal loose rock, scrambling and exposure to heights (narrow ledges). The trail zigzags up the bed of the gorge, lessening the gradient through repeated switchbacks.
The lower section leads up beside a stream, reduced to a trickle in summer (November to February), but gushing in winter (June to August). Further up, the gorge narrows between imposing cliffs. The setting gets more dramatic as the sidewalls close in, almost converging at the head of the gorge and barely allowing access to the summit through a two-meter-wide corridor. The route offers city and harbour views, restricted in the upper section by the sheer cliffs. Vegetation is mostly shrubland, with a patch of indigenous Afro-montane forest about a quarter of the way up.
Hike Safety & Security
The Platteklip Gorge trail involves minimal narrow ledges and there are no treacherous sections. Despite the route’s benign terrain, it sees more rescues than any other Table Mountain hiking route, only because it sees far more hikers. Injuries typically occur on the descent, not the ascent. Dehydration accounts for most rescues: many hikers start too late in summer and don’t pack enough water.
As far as security goes, at the time of writing (June 2021), the route is very safe. Solo hikers, especially females, should avoid starting out or finishing in the dark. Car break-ins have occurred at the Platteklip Gorge parking, so if driving to the trail head, be sure to stash all belongings in the trunk, leaving nothing inside the car.
Pros & Cons
As the quickest, easiest, busiest and most direct route up Table Mountain, Platteklip Gorge trail generally appeals to those who are not in good shape and have little interest in nature or a more authentic experience of Table Mountain. It’s also the best route for older hikers or those nursing a niggling injury or who suffer balance impairment. For everyone else, the route holds little attraction other than serving as a convenient descent on days when the cableway is closed due to strong wind. As a mountain-guiding company bent on giving visitors the best possible experience of Table Mountain, we naturally shy away from Platteklip Gorge. However, we fully understand that low fitness, time constraints, injury, agility, fear of heights or personal preferences may preclude some from enjoying or completing one of the other route options. With all that said, if you’ve never been on a mountain before, Platteklip Gorge will still delight.