Platteklip Gorge Trail

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In Cape Town

-33.9554, 18.4158

3km

Hard trail; Suitable for strong, fit children

About

The deep nick in the flat top of Table Mountain's main face, known as Platteklip Gorge, is visible from a considerable distance. This was the route of the first recorded ascent of the mountain by Admiral Antonio de Saldanha, commander of the Portuguese fleet, which sailed into Table Bay in 1503.

The path is so popular that it is nicknamed Adderley St by the locals (after the main street in the city), but it is incredibly steep and direct so don’t underestimate it. Nevertheless, the route is well maintained and easy to follow and therefore provides a good, safe ascent or descent route, particularly in& bad weather. There’s little shade above the contour path so take water and be prepared for some knee jarring on the descent.

From the car park on Tafelberg Road, 1,5 kilometres past the Lower Cable Station, it's a gradual climb through a section of trees until, after 15 minutes or so, you reach the contour path. Traverse left for about 100 metres to a junction before making an assault on the steep uphill path on your right, which ascends, via a series of big rock steps and zigzags along rock gabions, to the gash in the mountain above you.

The last bit is steep but you should be on top in less than an hour and a half. At the top, turn left if you want to go to Maclear’s Beacon, the true summit of Table Mountain, (roughly an hour return), or right up an obvious path that is aided by fixed handrails to the Upper Cable Station, viewpoints, restaurant and toilets.

Alternatively, you can park at the Lower Cable Station and ascend to the contour path via the stone steps, which start just to the right of the station and head up more or less under the cable car. Once on the contour path, follow it around left, until, after about 30 minutes, you reach the junction described earlier.