Platteklip Gorge is the quickest, easiest and oldest route up Table Mountain, as well as the most direct. It’s also the least scenic and exciting route. While a stream graces the lower portion, and imposing cliffs add grandeur to the upper portion, the views are limited and the hiking tedious. So why bother with it? If you’re unfit and not prepared to extend yourself physically, or if you’re short on time, or if your main goal is to get to the summit on foot with minimal challenge or complication and effort, then it’s the route for you. If you’re in reasonable shape, or you’re adventurous and want to experience more of Table Mountain, consider one of the many other routes on the mountain. There are highways and byways: highways get you to your destination fast but usually offer less scenery; byways are the scenic routes that focuses more on the journey than the destination. Platteklip Gorge is the highway of table Mountain hiking routes. And being the easiest route, it also gets the most traffic – so not much on offer in the way of nature compared to other routes.
Despite the above, Platteklip Gorge is still an experience. You’re on a big mountain surrounded by impressive terrain with views onto the city. The sense of achievement from hiking Table Mountain – as opposed to taking the cable car – rewards you when you set foot on the famous table top summit. The route leads up a deep ravine that slashes up the famous front face of Table Mountain, following a well-defined trail consisting of rock-steps. The gradient is steep, so while it’s the easiest route up Table Mountain, it’s not easy: it’s still strenuous, but involves no technical sections or exposure to heights.
Being the oldest route up Table Mountain, Platteklip carries a rich history. For many years, it was the only route to the summit, and certainly the preferred means of ascent for all the pioneering botanists and naturalists who visited the Cape in the 18th and 19th Century. On days when the cable way is closed due to strong wind, or bad weather sets in, it’s the preferred descent route.
Table Mountain hikes come in all levels of adventure and difficulty while offering much variety in terms of scenery, surroundings and mood. Regrdless which route you decide on, hiking Table Mountain allows you to experience the mountain up close and personal. While Platteklip Gorge might not be the grandest and most beautiful route, it does offer a unique perspective on the mountain and the opportunity to create fond memories.