devil’s peak, cape town

Hiking Cape Town: Devil’s Peak

The urban legend goes that Jan van Hunks, a Dutchman who lived at the foot of Table Mountain, found himself in a pipe-smoking competition with a local stranger. And though van Hunks won the competition (a talented pipe smoker), the stranger turned out to be the Devil. van Hunks had smoked so much that the smoke eventually covered the entire mountain, thus explaining the “table cloth” that often covers Table Mountain. And the devil? Well thus, the name “Devil’s Peak.”

We’ve hiked part of Devil’s Peak once before to Woodstock Cave, but that one ended in ants, snakes and a surprising run-in with a local cult.

This time, the summit of Devil’s Peak was our goal. We started from the trailhead at Tafelberg Road in town, winding around the back of Devil’s Peak via the Saddle.

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The first part of the hike—a set of switch-backs—provided incredible views of the City Bowl, Lion’s Head and the sea. It also gives a nice perspective of Platteklip Gorge—a popular hike up the front of Table Mountain.

Our hopes were a bit low driving to the hike, as most of the Atlantic Seaboard was under dense fog. The fog continually wrapped around the front side of Table Mountain, but it never made its way over to Devil’s Peak, which meant unobstructed views and a very sunny walk up.

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This particular trail to Devil’s Peak is great. It’s well marked (the first trail we’ve done in a long time where we didn’t get lost), well-traversed, and wide. It is also very exposed. We counted only one patch of shade the entire hike up.

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You can see the zig-zag trail up Platteklip Gorge in the middle of Table Mountain.

After a series of switch-backs and a long, flat path, it’s pretty steep the last hour or so of the trial. We reached a short break with views over Woodstock, and then there were only about 20 minutes left until the top. In very hot, sunny weather, it felt much longer. Luckily, we had the encouragement of two cheery fellow Americans whom we met on the way up.

hiking devil’s peak

Looking happy, but dying inside.

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We made it!

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The summit of Devil’s Peak is well worth the trek. One great thing about this hike, is that, like Lion’s Head, it provides 360-degree views. While I love hiking Table Mountain, the Table is most likely behind you when you summit, so you can only see what’s right in front of you. On Devil’s Peak, you’ve got an incredible panorama of the city, Table Mountain, the Southern Suburbs, Lion’s Head and the sea.

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It was a fun, easy hike back down, and after about 3 hours, we were pretty thirsty and sunburnt.

I’d recommend this hike with the condition that you not go in the hottest part of the day, wear sunscreen and bring more water than you think necessary. Other than that, it’s a terrific way to spend a Sunday, and provides unbelievable views of the city at large.

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