Table Mountain has over 50 different hiking trails on offer, so choosing the best one for you to hike up is not an easy decision. Due to the different weather systems and micro-biomes, each side of Table Mountain has something special to offer. One of AWOL Tours most popular guided hikes is up Skeleton Gorge.
The Skeleton Gorge hike starts in Kirstenbosch, a world renowend Botanical Garden, which makes it a perfect opportunity to combine the hike with a visit to the garden. The Kirstenbosch side of Table Mountain receives the most rainfall on the Peninsula and the lower slopes of the mountain are thus covered by extensive indigenous Afromontane forest, a vegetation type that only covers 0.5% of Africa. Hiking up the gorge is especially nice in summer, when the large trees of the forest offer some cooling shade.
The entire hike up Skeleton Gorge is quite steep and we climb from 200m to 800m. The first half of the ascend is stepped, then a ladder section is reached which helps to climb over some polished rocks. The hike continues through the rocky water stream of the gorge where we will have to use our hands to scramble over some rocks. The trail should be avoided after heavy rains as the rocks and ladders will be quite slippery. After exiting the stream, the path zigzags up to the top where Skeleton Gorge turns into the Smuts Track at Breakfast Rock.
From here, a gentle incline of 280m takes us to Maclear’s Beacon, the highest point of Table Mountain. Hopefully we are blessed with good weather when following the footpath of Jan Smuts so that we can enjoy a 360 degree view of the Mother City. The total distance covered from Kirstenbosch to the Cable Car is about 6.5km and will take between 3 to 5 hours, with a total elevation of approximately 900m.
Now that we have learned about the beauties of Skeleton Gorge, only one question remains: Where does the name come from? Well, the trail is known by its present name since the late 1800s, but the origin of the name is still an unsolved mystery. It can only be assumed that a skeleton had been found here.
The AWOL Tours hiking guides will happily assist you in choosing the most suitable hiking route up Table Mountain for you.