On Table Mountain there is a network of over 550 walks. Maps are available in city from the Info Centre at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Nature Conservation and the National Botanical Gardens.
Some well-constructed footpaths exists, as well as picnic sites and the cableway.
Some of the attractions that Table Mountain offers, are the spectacular setting of a mountain amidst a city, magnificent scenery and beautiful vistas to all corners, easily accessible wild areas, rich flora and indigenous forested kloofs.
The Pipe Track and its radiating ascents.
The Pipe Track, originally a service path for maintaining pipes leading from the high reservoirs, is a beautiful stroll in itself, and also serves to link the paths leading up to the Twelve Apostles ridge.
Leaving Kloof Nek opposite the toilet facilities, the track passes the red-brick water-filtration plant, crosses the gully known as Diepsloot and winds around several bends, offering wonderful views over Camps Bay, and through thick bush for about 7 km before reaching a point below the exit of the disused Woodhead Tunnel in Slangolie Ravine.
Along the way, there are several exciting routes up the mountain from the Pipe Track, and even one beyond Slangolie Ravine.
Pass the metal signs marking Blinkwater (a steep ravine which is closed), and take the Diagonal path. This is a particularly interesting ascent because it crosses three buttresses (Porcupine, Jubilee and Barrier) and two ravines, ending in an ascent of Barrier Ravine to the Val- ley of the Red Gods.
Barrier Buttress is followed by Valken and Kasteel buttresses, beyond which one of the most popular ascents of the mountain, via the ravine of Kasteelspoort, is signposted. This is a well-worn path, scheduled for upgrading; so keep to the stone treads, where these are provided.
Continue along the path which is a continuation of the Pipe Track and which skirts Slangolie Buttress, and leads to the top of the mountain via Corridor Ravine. These routes are subjected to tremendous erosional pressures from hikers, which is why the authorities have cut zigzags and reconstructed the treads with stone - please keep to these.
The excursion to Grootkop should be a favourite - probably because so few people go there and the view from the summit is one of the best on the whole range. If you start from Theresa Drive in Camps Bay and climb the mountain via Kasteelspoort - the shortest route to Grootkop - and return the same way after a lunch stop on the summit, you will need about six hours.
Once you reach the Back Table, take the well-worn southern path along the ridge of the Twelve Apostles. It leads you to Grootkop. The ascent is more tricky than difficult, although marked with beacons.
The one-hour climb to the summit of Lion's Head (669 m) provides the best scenery for the least amount of effort in the whole fynbos region. At dusk, dawn and full moon, the city, sea and Table Mountain are mantled with soft light, a particularly beautiful sight from Lion's Head.
The path begins at the dirt road (which has a chain across it) opposite the parking area off the tarred road running from Kloof Nek to the long ridge of Signal Hill. Follow the path right the way around Lion's Head until the steep cliffs near the top are reached.
Here there are alternative routes to the summit: one uses two sets of chains, the other two steel ladders; both routes are perfectly safe provided you keep to the constructed paths.
Skeleton Gorge and Nursery Ravine
Shaded by indigenous forest and provided with tree identification tags (small yellow squares). Skeleton Gorge (the beginning of a route known as Smuts Track) ascends from the 310 m contour path above Kirstenbosch Gardens.
Ladders have been provided in a couple of places to help climbers over the worst of the rocks and there are a few short sections left which necessitate scrambling. Once you reach the top, near the Hely-Hutchinson Dam, the best is to follow the southern leg of intersection (working your way left, past the dam), to the top of Nursery Ravine.
The descent of the ravine - whose gradient is steeper than that of Skeleton Gorge - will bring you back to the 310 m contour path. From here, it is a gentle downhill walk to Kirstenbosch Gardens. The total circuit takes about 3,5 hours.
Devil's Peak, Newlands Ravine and Forest
About 2 km beyond the lower cableway station on Tafelberg Road (400m), you come to some well-constructed zigzags known as the Saddle Path. Follow these - without being tempted to short-cut - and they will eventually level out at 650 m. Continue on the main track northwards to Breakfast Rock and thence to the Saddle. From here, turn left to ascend the steep (eroded) firebreak from 700 m to the top of Devil's Peak at 1000 m.
If you do not mind ending up on the other side of the mountain from your car, return to the Saddle and follow the south-westerly path which crosses the Saddle diagonally and gradually winds to the top of Newlands Ravine Footpath'. Be sure to avoid the first ravine you encounter, Dark Gorge: it looks innocent enough but is in fact an extremely dangerous way down, which has claimed several lives.
Newlands Ravine should be challenge enough; it descends first via rock steps, then zigzags across scree before reaching the shade of trees.
Upon reaching the 360 m contour path, turn right and ten minutes later you will find the descent into the very popular and beautiful Newlands Forest. If you have time, however, turn left and follow the contour path all around the northern side of the mountain, past the King's Blockhouse, back to the original zigzag path. This round trip requires approximately five hours.
Constantia Corner Path
Constantia Corner Path is beautiful, because of its distant views, its winding and undulating pattern and the rock formations near the top. Starting at Constantia Nek, walk up the east side of the picnic area opposite the restaurant and into Cecilia State Forest. About 30 m beyond the gate, the path leads off to the left from the dirt road.
Although it is obscure in places, you can follow the path up the crest of Constantia Ridge to the service road linking Constantia Nek to Cecilia Plantation and the Woodhead Reservoir. The distance to this point is only 2,5 km; including the retum along the same route, the walk takes about 3,5 hours.
Operating daily through out the year, weather permitting, the new cable way rivals with the best in the world and will whizz you to the top in minutes. Enjoy spectacular views from the rotating car as you make your way to the top.
To avoid the long queues, booking ahead is a good idea, although this service is only available in season.
Please do not take short cuts, always carry off the mountain all bottles, bags and other litter that you carry up.
Restrictions - such as a prohibition on all fires and overnight camping - are strictly enforced and all users of the mountain must obey these rules.
Weather changes rapidly on the mountain and can be very different to that in the city below. No matter how settled the weather appears to be, never venture onto the mountain without a warm jersey, waterproof windcheater, map, compass, torch and spare food.
From October to March, gale-force south-east winds can blow and cover the mountain in thick mist. It is very easy to lose your way and become disorientated in mist.
The only predictable aspect of Table Mountain's weather is its unpredictability and rapid changes - be prepared!
Always stick to well-defined routes and avoid those that are dangerous.
See also Cape Town Things to Do for various other activities.