Table Mountain hikes off-the-beaten track – 4 May 2015

View southwest down the Atlantic coast.

View southwest from high up Spring Buttress on the Twelve Apostles.

What amazes me most about Table Mountain is how much wilderness it retains despite the proximity of a city. One can be forgiven for thinking Table Mountain tame and trodden, stripped of wilderness and grandeur. Taking the cable car to the summit only supports this notion. Only by hiking Table Mountain do you begin to see, and experience, its true nature. Beyond the cableway precinct can be found the soul of the mountain. The famous and iconic tabletop summit of Table Mountain constitutes only about 7% of the mountain’s overall surface area. It might be the highest and most famous part of the mountain, but it’s a mere façade to the bulk of the Table Mountain massif (a mountain mass consisting of several peaks).

Anywhere between 80 to 90% of people who opt to hike to the summit do so via Platteklip Gorge, the quickest and easiest route to the summit, but also the least scenic and exciting. As far as Table Mountain hiking goes, it doesn’t do the mountain justice. Of the remaining 10 to 20%, most tackle the mountain via Skeleton Gorge or Kasteelspoort, both great routes taking in a lot of the mountain and showcasing more unfrequented parts. That leaves about 20 other routes by which to explore the mountain and get far off-the-beaten track. Each of these Table Mountain hikes leads up parts of the mountain that seldom sees hikers, allowing you to experience the untamed nature of the mountain. If you know all the routes, you can customize just about every facet of the hike: views, level of adventure, technical difficulty, terrain, topography and vegetation. All these routes have this in common, though: peace, quiet, solitude, dramatic mountainscapes and pristine nature.

Table Mountain is wilder than most people think, and only through hiking do you experience this wildness. Many Table Mountain hikes offer a superb mix of adventure and wilderness, where civilization feels a thousand miles away, that allows you to connect with the mountain on a deeper level and that fills you with a sense of freedom, exhilaration and achievement.

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