- 10-12 km round trip
- Moderate to difficult terrain
- Partly shaded
- Little water
- Not dog friendly*
The Kasteelspoort hike is an enjoyable, thrilling and fairly lengthy hike ending at a popular and picture perfect view point at the top of Table Mountain. The hike, there and back, is between 10-12 km (depending on how much you explore the summit) and should take just under five hours walking at a leisurely pace. The terrain at the start is a fairly rocky but flat track, yet once the turn up Kasteelspoort begins, the gradient increases significantly with a number of rocky steps and large boulders to navigate and scramble over. The trail is well populated and offers incredible views of Camps Bay and the deep blue Atlantic Ocean beyond for the entire duration of the hike.
The parking area for this hike is at the first parking lot to your left as you turn onto Tafelberg road from Kloof Nek road heading towards the cable car station on Table Mountain. From here, you walk up a set of stairs to the left of the public bathrooms onto Tafelberg Road. After you cross the road there is another small set of stairs to the right, possibly hidden behind some cars, which leads you onto a dirt track. This is where the trial starts.
For the first third of the hike, you will walk along a trail called “The Pipe Track”. This is a fairly easy trail provided you watch your footing. There are a few rocky areas, some loose rocks, and roots to step over. Within 500 m you will understand the naming of the path as you come across the first of the pipeline which you will walk under. About 900 m into the trail you will notice a gate blocking you from entering a path to the right. This is the original pipe track, which is currently unusable after heavy rains. A marked sign directs you onto the detour path.
Along the way you will notice a few splits in the path, stay on the main pipe track. The turn to Kasteelspoort is clearly marked. Along this path the views of the Cape coast are exquisite, with a number of cut-backs and clumps of trees providing welcome shade and a perfect spot to take a break or grab a sip of water.
At 3.5 km, around 45 minutes along the Pipe Track, you will see the well-marked sign-post to the left for the path up Kasteelspoort. Up until this part of the hike the gradient has been very gentle, but almost immediately, after this turn the route becomes steeper, with a steady climb all the way to the top.
The initial segment is made up of a rocky staircase, none too big, which steadily snakes its way up the side of the mountain. After approximately 20 minutes, you will come across a small stream with a sign indicating hikers should not scramble up the waterway, but instead cross it and continue up the well-beaten path, with yellow-painted footprints on the rocks guiding your way up.
Then begins the toughest part of the hike, with a number of steeper sections that involve a bit of scrambling and pulling yourself up over larger rock faces, yet none too high or overtly challenging (we were joined at the top by a number of elderly hikers who managed). The majority of this segment of the hike is under the shade of the mountain (in the morning through to early afternoon), yet take care of a number of wet and possibly slippery sections owing to the dripping water from the slopes further up.
Around 40 minutes later, you will emerge from the shadows of the slopes as the gradient eases up, with the rocky path a lot flatter and easier. A small wooden bridge helps you cross another small stream before reaching a circular, rocky signpost, with a map, in the centre of the path. Turn right along the path marked “Twelve Apostles Spine Route” for another ten minutes until you reach another sign post, where you will again turn right along the flat path marked “Old Cableway View Point”.
Your destination is now in sight, with the old cable station – an abandoned, rectangular rocky structure – on the right, and a rocky ledge directly in front. Access to the ledge requires a small detour to the left, around a clump of bushes and rocks, before leading out onto the actual ledge – a perfect photo opportunity, if you’re brave enough!
There are a number of other paths to explore at the summit, including Suikerbossie, Echo Valley, a visit to the nearby reservoirs or a further ascent to the other side of Table Mountain near the cable car.
You can easily take the same route down the mountain, or a number of other clearly marked paths, all dependent on where you have parked your car and how lazy you are feeling!
*I personally think this trial would not be suitable for dogs, though we did come across a few on this hike. In speaking to one particular owner, she advised that only healthy and smaller dogs, whose owners are able to give them a boost or assistance over the bigger rocks, should be taken along this particular trail.