Table Mountain hiking covers many types of terrain, from well-defined paths up solid rock-steps to rugged terrain that involves bush, loose rock, scrambling and steep ground exposed to heights. Distance and elevation gain impacts much less on the severity of a hike than terrain. Why would you choose a route that involves difficult terrain when there are ones leading across easier terrain? Because they take you off the beaten track, or lead up a dramatic and exciting part of the mountain, or gives you more adventure, more solitude and peace and quiet, more of a wilderness experience, brings you closer to nature, closer to the essence of Table Mountain, gives you a greater sense of achievement, leads to unique viewpoints and areas of striking topography.
Table Mountain hikes that involve rugged terrain are more strenuous and often requires a good head for heights as well as a good fitness level, not to mention a solid sense of adventure. Bush with loose rock underfoot makes for challenging hiking, especially uphill, but the rewards are worth the effort and discomfort to those with an inquisitive nature, a love for wilderness and a sense of adventure. Terrain greatly contributes to the character of Table Mountain hiking routes: jungle, scree, ridges, exposed ledges, shrub-clad slopes, boulder fields, vertical rock bands, dry (or wet) streambeds, marshes bristling with reeds, dissected outcrops – all these types of terrain occur in legion permutations and combinations to fill out the character of a route. It endows a route with a distinct personality. A route should be assessed and appraised more for the terrain it traverses than the height it gains or the distance it covers. Worth remembering if you’re considering hiking Table Mountain.