A few months back I used my friend Gift’s visit to Cape Town as an opportunity to hike up Lion’s Head using a route I rarely hear people talk about – starting in Fresnaye/above Sea Point instead of the usual Signal Hill drive to the parking lot. Also to find Wally’s Cave, but that information may no longer be useful to the law-abiding citizens amongst you ;)
If you’ve ‘done’ Lion’s Head and find the climb a little monotonous lately or are visiting and have heard it’s quite short, this route has you start just above the Atlantic Seaboard and move round to reveal a city view before you even begin the more famous trail(s) from the base of the main peak.
Here’s why it was dope.
1. Urban Hiking aka supermarkets and super-rich houses
Gift and I had a lot of catching up to do so the snack-stop at Checker’s and the stroll up to Top Road allowed us to start nice and easy in an urban setting without it being too strenuous early on. Fresnaye’s little streets are palm-lined and California-esque (ideal for some Instagram stops) and on a good day you can see the transition from the ocean below, through Sea Point’s busy main streets, onto some suburban opulence and right up to the peak you’re aiming for.
If you like to appreciate how quick and easy it is to retreat into nature from the cosmopolitan environment of Cape Town, start here. If not, you can of course Uber it to Top Road which we did end up doing in the end when a hilarious Congolese driver agreed to drive us up when the person who had called him cancelled their trip.
2. Escape the crowds
Going through the quiet lanes of mansions and onto the official start of the hike, it’s unlikely you’ll bump into any other hikers for a while, and when you do it’ll be a couple of serious trail runners and maybe a family or two like we did. It’s quiet and beautiful and feels like you’re on your own private reserve for a little while, watching the madness below. If you’re into that sort of thing ;)
3. A longer overall hike
This one is, of course, not a plus for everyone but I do hear some people say they choose to skip Lion’s Head because it doesn’t take much time to finish. On our extended hike we added on a good 25-30 minutes to what would otherwise have been about an hour going up and down. What was supposed to be a late-morning start with a late lunch to look forward to when we got down the other side to Kloof Nek Road became a sunset/moonrise descent! Still a great time, either way.
4. Flat enough for light running/jogging
I’m a keen runner but I often choose distance over steep inclines because they just seem unstable and scary to me (LOL). But once you get to the beginning of the reserve area there’s a lovely contour path to take you past the wooded area onto epic views of the city and the ocean and to the base of Lion’s Head’s actual peak. Top stuff and maybe a good interval training spot for those summer bodies!