From dog-friendly weekend getaways and beaches to dog parks and restaurants, where all the members of the family are welcome (including the furry ones), Cape Town is a city with a demonstrated empathy for dog lovers. Also, being a world-class destination for outdoors enthusiasts, our peninsula and surrounding landscapes are riddled with hiking trails, many of which offer the perfect day’s activity and exercise for dogs and their owners. Let’s look at some of Cape Town’s dog-friendly hiking trails and walks…

Important numbers and information to have:

  • Mountain Rescue: 021 508 4527
  • Wilderness Search and Rescue: 021 937 0300
  • Information on My Activity Permits: 021 712 7471 or Click Here
  • When hiking in the Cape, take plenty of water and a cell phone (with emergency contact numbers saved). Wear sunscreen, a hat, and never go alone, especially after dark.

Blackburn Ravine, Hout Bay

Blackburn Ravine is a mostly easy-going hike that begins at the old cannon fort on Chapman’s Peak Drive in Hout Bay. The trail winds through beautiful forested and fynbos-carpeted mountainside before ending at a stunning lookout at the top of the ravine. From here, you’re afforded spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and the dramatic Cape Peninsula.

Need-to-Know: My Activity Permit required, maximum of two dogs allowed (keep them on a leash), and call beforehand to make sure that Chapman’s Peak Drive is open
Where: East Fort, Chapman’s Peak Drive, Hout Bay
Cost: Free (with My Activity Permit)
Contacts: 021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org  (Table Mountain National Park), or 021 791 8222 (Chapman’s Peak Drive Customer Service)

Noordhoek Beach

Noordhoek consists of (literally) kilometres of wide-open beach, upon which gentle surf breaks, making this one of Cape Town’s best spots for dog owners. With this much space, dogs can run wild and get a thorough workout, which you can either join in on or lay back for a little R&R on the powdery white sand.

Need-to-know: Stay alert, always walk with a friend, and take a can of pepper spray with you for protection. My Activity Permit required.
Where: Beach Road, Noordhoek, Cape Town
Cost: Free (with My Activity Permit)
Contact: 021 712 0527, www.noordhoekbeach.co.za/contact-us, tablem@sanparks.org  (Table Mountain National Park)

Dogs-Noordhoek-Beach

Beaverlac Camp Site, Porterville

If you’d like to get away for a weekend of hiking rather than just a morning or afternoon, Beaverlac is a great place and a summertime favourite of Capetonians looking to escape the city. This dog-friendly campsite is riddled with fabulous hiking trails and, with its location next to the Olifants River, swimming spots. If you’re not a fan of camping, you can always rent a self-catering cottage.

Need-to-know: A maximum of two dogs per car is allowed, day visits not allowed
Where: Beaverlac, 6810 Porterville, Western Cape
Cost: R55 (adults), R35 (children 4 – 17), Free (children under 4), R50 per dog, R20 per car
Contact: 022 931 2945, beaverlac.kantoor@gmail.com

Beaverlac

Newlands Forest

Newlands Forest is a conservancy area of thick pine trees interspersed with indigenous vegetation located on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. Criss-crossed with a variety of nature trails and pathways of varying difficulty, Capetonians regularly bring their dogs here for exercise, whether it’s for a leisurely forest walk or a more rigorous mountain hike. Newlands Forest is easily accessible from the M3 highway and, higher up, offers beautiful views over the Cape Flats.

Need-to-know: My Activity Permit required
Where: Off the M3 highway, Newlands, Table Mountain (Nature Reserve)
Cost: Free (with My Activity Permit)
Contact: 021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)

Newlands Forest

Pipe Track, Cape Town

Starting at the intersection of Kloof Nek and Tafelberg Road on the foothills of Table Mountain, the Pipe Track is an easy contour path hike and a popular one too. From your vantage point along the northwest-facing slopes of the Twelve Apostles, you’re afforded breath-taking views of Lion’s Head, the Atlantic Ocean, and the seaside suburbs of Camps Bay and Bakoven. The trail is called “Pipe Track” because it follows an old water pipe – exposed in areas – and, given the fact that it’s mostly level, is great for dog-walkers. The full length of the hike is 6 km one way (to Corridor Ravine) and about 4,5 hours return.

Need-to-know: My Activity Permit required
Where: Intersection of Kloof Nek and Tafelberg Road. You can park your car at the Kloof Nek parking lot
Cost: Free (with My Activity Permit)

Pipe-Track-Cape-Town

Lion’s Head

It’s a short but challenging hike that is tackled daily by people of all fitness levels (there are parts that require a little climbing, so you might have to give your dog a push or a paw-up). While you and your furry friend might arrive at the top panting, the 360-degree view of Table Mountain, the Cape Peninsula, the Atlantic Ocean, the West Coast and the city makes it worth the effort. Not even Table Mountain herself offers a more spectacular view since the one on Lion’s Head includes a view of the city’s proud monument.

Where: The hike starts at on Signal Hill Road, at the Base of Forestry Road
Cost: Free
Need-to-Know: Take plenty of water, sunscreen, a hat, a cell phone in case of emergency, and a hiking buddy
Contacts: 021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)

Lions-head

Deer Park Forest and Vredehoek Quarry

Located right in the heart of Cape Town’s mountain slope suburbs, the Deer Park Forest nature reserve and Vredehoek Quarry are easily accessed and offer a variety of trails for dog owners, from easy walks to challenging hikes. The paths are well kept and, in parts, bordered by thick fynbos vegetation and in others, by forests. Deer Park Forest and Vredehoek Quarry are a picturesque escape from the city (without actually having to leave the city) with superb, close up views of Table Mountain and Cape Town.

Need-to-know: Dogs are not allowed to swim in the water at the quarry, so keep them on a leash. Watch out for mountain bikers, who can tear around corners pretty fast
Where: Deerpark Drive, Vredehoek, Cape Town
Cost: Free
Contacts: 021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)

Deer-Park

Constantia Nek

Constantia Nek hike, which starts and ends at Constantia Nek right opposite the restaurant of the same name, is a decent three to four-hour walk that takes you on a loop around the Woodhead and Hely Hutchinson Dams in the Table Mountain Nature Reserve. The walk begins in the shade of tall pine trees but eventually leads out into vivacious fynbos vegetation that is dotted with silver leaf trees. At the top of the hike, you should come across freshwater streams, which, having come straight from the mountain, are good for both you and your pooch to drink from!

Where: Forestry Road, just above Constantia Nek
Cost: Free
Contacts: 021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)

Constantia Nek
Image: Flickr | Damien du Toit

Cecilia Forest, Constantia

To the south of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, on the lower eastern slopes of Table Mountain, lies a heavily forested stretch of land called Cecilia Forest. The area is totally enchanting and crisscrossed with several walking and hiking trails, the most popular of which begins at the intersection of Rhodes and Hohenhort Drives. This particular walk is circular and mostly flat, leading through thick indigenous vegetation; just make sure you keep track of your route because there are some forks that could land you up in Newlands Forest or Kirstenbosch.

Where: Cecilia Forest car park, corner of Rhodes and Hohenhort Drives, Constantia/Newlands
Cost: Free

Cecilia Forest
Image: Flickr | Warrenski

Liesbeek River Trail, Newlands

The Liesbeek River Trail is a beautiful 4,5-kilometre walk that starts at the lawns below Kirstenbosch’s main entrance on Rhodes Avenue, follows the Liesbeek River, and finish at Josephine Mill in Newlands. The river itself has been canalised and is lined by trees, offering dog owners a lovely, shaded route to take their furry friends for a walk or run on.

Where: Liesbeek Parkway green corridor, Newlands, Cape Town
Cost: Free
Contact: 021 444 1901

Liesbeek
Image: Flickr | andrej

Silwerfontein Trail, Tulbagh

An hour-and-a-half’s drive from Cape Town and in a gorgeous, mountain-framed valley, lies the quiet and picturesque town of Tulbagh. Here, the Silwerfontein trail circles around the Ontongskop Peak, leading hikers through cool pine forests, colourful fynbos terrain, and rugged ravines. It’s a full day’s hike that many break into two days, so take lots of water and food for both yourself and the pooch, and perhaps even book yourself a stay at Silwerfontein’s guest farm!

Where: Silwerfontein Guest Farm, Gouda, Tulbagh
Cost: R50 (adults), R25 (pet), R150 (overnight). Bookings must be made ahead of time
Contact: 079 500 1906, info@silwerfontein.co.za

Gifkloof Trail, Greyton

In the leafy town of Greyton, at the meeting point of Vlei and Lower Regent Streets, you’ll find a gated fence, the road through which leads visitors across the Gobos river and up into the surrounding hillside. This is the starting point of a trail that meanders through Greyton’s rolling hills, circling back to its starting point, making for a really wonderful hike. Afterwards, you can always stop for a picnic next to the river.

Need-to-know: The trail passes through a shooting range, which is marked by a red flag when in use. You can also inquire with Greyton Tourism beforehand.
Where: Corner of Vlei and Lower Regent Streets, Greyton
Cost: Free
Contact: 028 254 9564, k.wehrlin@tiscali.co.za (Greyton Conservation Society), 028 254 9414 or info@greytontourism.com (Greyton Tourism)

Important Note: For parks and nature trails that are open 24 hours a day, it’s important to be aware at all times and take some form of protection with you (mace spray), especially if you go alone and outside of peak hours.

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