Devil’s Peak, Table Mountain’s little brother. Standing at 1,000 meters tall, it is just 87 meters shorter than Table mountain and presents an awe-inspiring panoramic view of the city. Table Mountain cascades past Lions Head and Signal Hill into Table Bay’s icy Atlantic waters, which stretch up the west coast past Atlantis.
Despite its appeal, the Devil’s Peak is often overlooked by visitors, who tend to opt for the Table Mountain Cableway or one of the many hiking trails leading to the famous attraction’s summit. Hikers who do choose to climb Devil’s Peak have the option of trails starting from Tafelberg Road, Newlands Forest, or Rhodes Memorial. Each route is covered in detail below – many of which are a short walk from Cape Town’s best Airbnbs.
Although each route starts at a different point, they are forced to converge at The Saddle that connects Devil’s Peak with Table Mountain. This is where the only safe path up to the summit of Devil’s Peak starts. This last section is rather steep and therefore requires a reasonable level of fitness or a great deal of determination.
As with most outdoor activities, the hike will be best enjoyed on a sunny day. Although you can enjoy a hike in the rain, a cold and slippery trail is not ideal. For a better understanding of the area’s seasonal weather conditions, see our Best Time to Visit South Africa guide.
Devil’s Peak Hike Video
Tafelberg Road is the highest road in Cape Town, making its way up the base of Table Mountain and past the Lower Cable Station. The Devil’s Peak trail starts 2,5 km (1,55 miles) from the Lower Cable Station, a relief for us as there was absolutely no parking that side of the mountain.
From start to finish the trail is 2,7 km long, rises 578 meters, and should take no longer than four hours. On the Northern side of Table Mountain, the trail is surrounded by Cape Peninsula Fynbos, a family of colourful shrubbery endemic to the region.
The first section zigzags up the Southern side of Devil’s Peak, with a well-maintained dirt trail making for easy, but slow progress. This section ends around the halfway mark at Breakfast Rock, The Saddle, a standard break and snack spot. This was the first moment I truly took time to appreciate the panoramic view behind me.
Amazingly, this view keeps improving until you reach the summit, which looks deceptively close from Breakfast Rock. Don’t be fooled, you are only around halfway up the mountain, with the toughest section still to come. Being tricked into believing that you are close to the summit is a feature of Devil’s Peak, with a number of ridges acting as ‘dummy summits’.
Once the trail meets up with the other two routes up Devil’s Peak, you are faced with a slightly loose and remarkably steep trail leading directly to the summit – no zigzags to help you this time.
Upon reaching the summit we stood quietly, awestruck by the spectacular view, breathing heavily in an attempt to catch our breath. With amazing beauty in every direction, one can relate to Van Hunks spending day after day contemplating on this peak.
Locals will often time their hike so that, just like Van Hunks, they can enjoy the sun setting behind Lion’s Head as they get to the later stages of their descent. Pick a perch and watch the warm, but dim glow descends over Cape Town.
Rhodes Memorial Hike
This Devil’s Peak route starts at Rhodes Memorial, a monument built to commemorate Cecil John Rhodes, a now controversial figure in South African History. Modelled after ancient Greek temples, it is a spectacular structure, with unforgettable views rivaling its architectural beauty.
From the memorial, a 5 km trek that ascends 836 m is required to reach the summit. The first section leads to the King’s Blockhouse, an old fort strategically placed for views of both Table Bay and False Bay. Built around 1795, the structure has watched Cape Town grow from a small port to a thriving African metropolis. It can be fun imagining what Cape Town looked like when The Blockhouse was built.
You will then need to climb Mowbray Ridge, before traversing Knife’s Edge. This is where the trail becomes rather tricky and treacherous. It is steep, loose, and has sharp drop-offs – making the trail terrifying for those suffering from extreme vertigo. We implore inexperienced hikers to attempt this route with someone who is familiar with it. This would make for a far safer journey.
Again, this trail meets up with the Tafelberg Road and Newlands Forest routes at The Saddle, where the final section leading to the summit starts. We suggest taking a break at Breakfast Rock – this serene spot is the perfect place to appreciate the surrounding beauty and catch your breath before attempting the relentlessly steep last section of the climb.
When you reach the summit, be sure to touch the trig beacon marking the mountain’s highest point. Now that that’s out of the way you have truly summited Devil’s Peak, all that’s left is to enjoy the awe-inspiring panoramic view. Admire Table Mountain’s most flattering angle, taking in the way Cape Town has been squeezed between mountains and the ocean.
Newlands Forest Hike up Newlands Ravine
The third and final route up Devil’s Peak starts at Newlands Forest and traverses the Southern Suburbs side of the mountain via Newlands Ravine. The slope is naturally wetter and protected from veld (forest) fires, allowing the Cape’s indigenous forests to flourish. This is rare as the region is mostly covered by fynbos – a locally endemic type of shrubbery.
Although this trail is longer than the Tafelberg route, at 3.9km (2.4 miles) with a 958 m (3142 ft) ascent, you will be protected from the sun. The dense afro-montane forest canopy above provides cover, making this trail popular around midday. In Summer, many hikers choose to ascend under the cover of Nursery Ravine, but descend down the warmer Tafelberg road route.
Be sure to look out for the native Silvertree. This tree species is famous among arborists worldwide, many of whom flock to the Cape to witness its shining leaves as well as many other colourful fynbos species.
After a challenging slog up Nursery Ravine, you will emerge from the forest at The Saddle connecting Table Mountain and Devil’s peak. The lush forest canopy above replaced with a panoramic view stretching from Table mountain past Atlantis Dunes, 50 km up the West Coast.
Here we suggest channeling your inner Van Hunks and taking a short pit-stop at Breakfast Rock. Sit quietly, listen to the sounds of the mountain, bring out them snacks, and take the time to truly appreciate the spectacular view. If you smoke a pipe, this would be an appropriate moment to spark up.
Now that you have caught your breath, it’s time to tackle the final, but toughest section. As previously mentioned, this steep and loose section of the trail is the only route to the summit. No matter your route, there’s no escaping this intimidating slope.
When you finally reach the top, your heart and head will pound loudly. Take a seat, relax, and let your heart rate slow to a reasonable pace. As this happens, you will notice the incredible beauty surrounding you. Sitting on a rock, almost one kilometer above sea level, there is immense beauty in every direction.
Newlands Forest Braai
After a long hike, stomachs will be rumbling with hunger, and nothing will sound more enticing than a freshly braai’d steak or burger. Luckily, Newlands Forest has you covered, with multiple fireplaces open to visitors.
These stunningly beautiful, secluded fireplaces are nestled in the pine forest, forming a perfect post-hike braai and beer spot. If you plan on braai-ing, we suggest parking at Newlands Forest and leaving your meat, firelighters, and wood/coal in your vehicle.
This will, however, result in a vehicle admission cost of around R25 per vehicle, on top of an entrance fee of about R25 per person. Children under the age of twelve-years-old are subject to discounted rates.
Contact Sanparks for further details:
- 021 712 747
Newlands Forest Map
Devil’s Peak Folklore
Devil’s Peak was originally named the Charles or Windberg mountain. The name “Devil’s Peak” originated from the story of Captain Jan Van Hunks, a man remembered for his thick moustache and constantly burning pipe.
Van Hunks, a man of the sea, abandoned a merchant ship on its way back from India. Settling down at the foot of what was then the Windberg Mountain, Van Hunks was happy. His land was fertile, and he had found a wife, but Van Hunks missed the peace of the Ocean.
He had always felt most at home watching the horizon, and spent every evening doing exactly that from his favourite perch on Winberg mountain. He smoked away as the sun dipped below Lion’s Head, leaving the then undeveloped city illuminated by nothing but twilight’s dim glow.
One day, circa 1700, as Van Hunks climbed the peak, he saw a man sat smoking at his exact spot. They sat together, swapping stories and bonding over their mutual love of tobacco. Little did Van Hunks know that this man was the Devil himself. After much playful jest, Van Hunks’ new smoking buddy baited him into a smoking contest.
A proud man, known for never laying down his pipe, Van Hunks was confidently determined to win. The men continued for 3 days, leaving a cloud of smoke draping over Table Mountain like a tablecloth. It was only on the third morning that Captain Van Hunks collapsed, his lungs giving in.
Even today, it is said that when you see a tablecloth over Table Mountain, the spirit of Van Hunks and the Devil.
With 3 trails up Devil’s Peak, hikers are spoilt for choice. While the Tafelberg Road route is the shortest, the Rhodes Memorial route is the most exhilarating, and the Newlands Forest route is protected by a beautiful and rare Cape forest.
Either way, all trails meet at The Saddle, before making the final ascent up the only path leading to the summit. The Saddle is a stretch of mountain connecting Devil’s Peak with its bigger and more famous brother, Table Mountain.