This is definitely one of the most popular hikes on our beloved Table Mountain. What some term the ‘stairway to heaven’ is the go-to route up Table Mountain for tourists and locals alike, although with 650 metres of elevation gained in less than 3 km it is no easy feat! Luckily for those who feel they have bitten off more than they can chew, or who are worried about reaching the top, the cable car close by can assist with the second half of the journey.
The route can be accessed via multiple paths, however, this synopsis will detail the most direct route. To reach the start, drive up to the corner of Kloof Nek road and Tafelberg Road and turn onto Tafelberg Road (towards Table Mountain and the opposite direction of Lion’s Head). Drive past the parking on your left and continue up the winding road. You will come across the cable car station on your right. Continue past here for about another 500 m until you reach the sign for Platteklip Gorge on your right. Park on the left hand side of the road.
The first 300 m is a moderate climb next to the pretty Platteklip stream. At 300 m you will meet the lower contour path that winds along Table Mountain. Turn left here and proceed about 100 m until the sign directing you right, up Platteklip Gorge. From here there is only one path up the Gorge. It is very easy to follow and can be seen winding up the Gorge above you. Although it is only 1.4 km to the top, is very steep at times and may feel like climbing a never-ending staircase.
However, there are ample spots to move over to the side and have a break while enjoying the views of Cape Town behind you. It can also become very hot in the Gorge, particularly on a summer’s day with little wind.
Once you reach the top, you will find a map showing the various routes available. Right would lead you to the cable car station, bathrooms and restaurant, as well as splendid viewing spots. However, to reach Maclear’s Beacon, the highest point on Table Mountain, turn left and proceed up the short ascent. Maclear’s Beacon is 2 km from the top of platteklip gorge and is again easy to follow. Thankfully, it is reasonably flat, with mild undulations here and there.
Along the route you will be able to gaze across most of the Table Mountain range – to Constantia Nek, Hout Bay, Muizrnberg and even Cape Point. Some parts of the route can be slippery, particularly if there have been recent rains, but for the most part it is not technical. About 300 m from the top you will see a mound-like rocky section that rises above the surrounding mountain. This is Maclear’s Beacon. When you reach the outskirts on the right of this section, take the first path left (you will see yellow footprints) and climb a little rocky section up.
Only 100 m to go, you will see a large cairn that has accumulated from all of the intrepid hikers that have been before you. This is the highest point on Table Mountain and is a lovely spot to unpack your picnic and soak in the views.
The route back is exactly the same as you came, unless of course you would like to pop over the restaurant or cable car station on the other side of Platteklip Gorge. Be careful as you head back down the Gorge as your legs may be a little shaky!