Top six dog-friendly hiking trails for beginners – Cape Town
It’s a long weekend with Human Rights Day falling on Sunday 21 March which means plenty of time to spend outdoors and hit the hiking trails with the whole family, including your four-legged children.
As more folks have taken up the hobby of hiking since lockdown restrictions on movement and social distancing in 2020, here are some tips for beginner hikers.
Have you found yourself asking the question “where can I go for a beginner hike?” or “I’m very unfit, how can I start hiking?” or perhaps “where are the dog-friendly hikes” in Cape Town? Then this is for you.
THE RIVER WALK IS PERFECT FOR A PICNIC OR SWIM
The Silvermine Nature Reserve has so many dog-friendly hiking trails for different levels of fitness.
The River Trail is a beautiful 2.5km trail (5km return) with plenty to see and only an hour (if you are a beginner) walk to Silvermine Dam. This trail is child-friendly and dog-friendly. It’s also perfect for those who aren’t ready to hike up a mountain just yet. As the name suggests you walk next to a river, with changing scenery, wooden platforms with shade, and trees in other parts. The River Walk is perfect for those hot summer days as it has plenty of water for your pooches to cool off and you can have a picnic at the dam after your hike. The trail begins at Silvermine Gate 1, with an entry fee of R35 per person and R75 per dog. Alternatively, you can purchase a My Activity permit from Sanparks.
BEGINNER HIKING TRAIL TO ELEPHANTS EYE CAVE
Many Capetonians have explored the Elephant’s Eye cave when they first began their hiking journey.
This dog-friendly hiking trail also begins at Silvermine Nature Reserve. The 5km trail has some steps and inclines but it still completely manageable for the entire family. All you have to do is follow the signage from the parking lot, up the jeep track. Remember to enjoy the views once you reach the cave and have fun exploring.
ST JAMES PEAK FOR SUNRISE
St James Peak in Muizenberg is a popular dog-friendly hiking trail. Easily accessible either from Boyes Drive or from the Silvermine Nature Reserve Gate 2 entrance. There’s nothing better than an early morning hike and stopping for coffee as the sun rises over False Bay. There are several different trails you can take to reach St James Peak that’s perfect for beginners. Remember to pack enough water if it’s a hot summer’s day. If you begin your hike from Boyes Drive it should take you 45 minutes to an hour depending on your fitness level.
It’s best to start this hike from the Silvermine entrance, up Steenberg Peak and then either cross over to Muizenberg Peak or St James Peak. This hiking trail has stunning views, caves to explore as well as a seasonal waterfall. Distance 5km to 10km depending on where you start and how many trails you wish to do.
KLOOF CORNER FOR STUNNING SUNSETS
A relatively easy hike starting from Tafelberg Road, just park at the Kloof Corner signage and the follow the steps up the mountain to Kloof Corner. Since it has steps up towards Kloof Corner this hiking trail should perhaps be tackled after you’ve tried the River Walk and Elephant’s Eye. You will be rewarded with the most incredible views and sunset over Camps Bay, so it’s totally worth it. It’s also dog-friendly so your fur baby can join you. This hike should take you 30 to 45 minutes depending on your fitness level.
CECILIA WATERFALL HIKING TRAIL
If you are looking for a forest to explore, shade under the trees and running water you should try Cecilia Forest. You can start this hike from Constantia Nek or Cecilia Forest parking lot. To reach the Cecilia waterfall it should take you 40 minutes to an hour depending on where you started. For this hike, you need some level of fitness because you will be hiking upstairs until you reach the waterfall. If this is too easy for you though, you can continue up the mountain until you reach the dam on Table Mountain. Although there is water available, remember to always carry enough water for you and your dogs.
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NEWLANDS FOREST CONTOUR PATH
Newlands Forest has so many trails to explore for the whole family. If you are starting out we suggest a walk on the contour path and if you don’t know which direction to go remember to get yourself a Singsby Map. Be prepared to share Newlands Forest with many other hikers though, since Covid hit traffic on the mountain has significantly increased. If you prefer to be by yourself best you go early before 7am on a weekend or on a week day. Remember to always take along enough water, to wear the correct hiking boots and to carry your permit if you are taking your dogs along.
Kim Chipendu is a columnist for Healthy Organic Lifestyle.