Newlands Forest – Contour Path loop

Newlands Forest – Contour Path loop
  • 7 km round trip (312m elevation gain)
  • Easy-moderate
  • Dog-friendly
  • Shaded
  • Water available in winter months

This is a perfect hike for those seeking a casual weekend outing on the mountain. Only requiring 2 hours at a very comfortable pace, Newlands Forest provides a beautiful, peaceful setting that will leave you invigorated and relaxed. There are a couple steep jeep tracks as well as rocky sections on the contour path, which warrants proper hiking/trail shoes.  Tread with caution on the boardwalks if it has rained recently as they may be slippery!

Map of Newlands Forest trails. There are plenty for you to explore.

The hike begins at the Newlands Forest Parking Lot which lies at the Newlands Fire Department just off of the M3. After walking up the road that leads to the mountain, you will find the Newlands Forest signboard and map.

Turn left and continue along the wide jeep track, through the metal boom and gradually begin to climb up the mountain. At the first junction, turn right (if you continue left you will also reach the contour path but this route is often busy with cyclists). The path flattens before gradually climbing up and left until you reach another T-junction. Turn right and head down, where you will find a bridge that crosses a narrow river.  The river is normally flowing during winter months and it is a lovely spot to sit for a bit and for children to play in the rock pools. Behind the wooden bench, you will see a small path heading up alongside the river. Take this path and turn left at the next T-junction. Continue along the boardwalks – these may be slippery after recent rains so tread carefully. As you start climbing again, look out for a small path branching off to the left (towards the river), and cross to the other side. Head up, ignoring the first path that branches sharply to the left. Take the second path to the left, which marks your 2km point (continuing straight will lead to Woodcutter’s trail). About 200m later the path will fork – continue right to head up to the contour path. You may choose to either take the stairs on the right (steeper ascent) or the jeep track on the left (more gradual but longer), as they will meet at the top.

Boardwalks on the contour path may have missing boards and/or be slippery in the wet

Continue winding up until you see the ‘Contour Path’ sign. Just a few high steps here and 100m further you will reach the Contour Path that marks 2.9km and the end of your ascent. This path actually traverses all the way from Constantia Nek to the Table Mountain Cable Car Station; heading right would take you towards The King’s Blockhouse, however, take the left towards Kirstenbosch Gardens. Provided the weather is clear, you will be able to look out over the southern suburbs towards the Hottentots mountain range.

The meander along the contour path is relatively flat, with a few rocky sections where caution should be taken. Also be careful not to slip on the boardwalks and be aware of missing/damaged boards.  At 4.2 km you will see the sign marking the entrance to Kirstenbosch. Continuing straight would lead towards the Skeleton Gorge and Nursery Ravine ascents, as well as Constantia Nek.

At the Kirstenbosch border, turn left and begin your descent

Turn left here and begin your descent towards Kirstenbosch. After descending 500m, the path forks – right to Kirstenbosch and left back to Newlands Forest. Turn left and continue until the following junction that meets the mountain biking trail. Turn left again and watch out for cyclists approaching from in front or behind. At the 5km mark the path dips into a narrow ravine with a bridge crossing, providing a pleasant spot to rest and soak in the sounds of the forest. The path traverses the side of the mountain and gradually climbs until it merges with the jeep track. Turn right and keep right at the next junction, heading down the mountain. At the next two junctions you will keep left (follow the mountain biking arrows), descending all the way to the jeep track where you started. Keep right here and complete the trip back to the Newlands Forest Parking Lot.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. how much does it cost for the hiking trip

    1. Hiking from Newlands forest is absolutely free! You only need to pay if you want to walk your dogs or use your mountain bike there. In this case, you will need to buy an activity card at one of the tourism offices mentioned on the SANParks website.

  2. Thank you for posting the trail. It would be really helpful if you included a photo of the trail marked on a map.

    1. Hi Keeva,

      Thank you for your suggestion! We absolutely agree that would help. In the future we would love to include maps that site visitors can zoom in and out of and use to navigate as well as a GPX file. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide this yet. In the meantime, we have GPX files for some of our hikes and we will happily share these with you. Please feel free to email us to request these.

      Best regards,
      The Cape Trails Team

  3. Is this trail safe to walk during a weekday morning?

    1. This is always a tricky question. As a female running alone, I personally tend to stick to the lower popular routes of Newlands Forest and I’ll only run during the “popular hours”. I would recommend joining one of the Safety Mountain Tracking WhatsApp groups ( and asking members of The Hikers Network there for their thoughts. They stay on top on the current hot spots in Cape Town. I hope this helps!

      Best regards,
      The Cape Trails Team

  4. hi is there parking

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