View of the Clouds over Table Mountain

Ready for a fun physical activity with picturesque views of Cape Town? Your next stop is the Lion’s Head hike, a trek up a mountain situated between the much-loved Table Mountain National Park and the flat-topped Signal Hill. As you make your way up to the top of Lion’s Head, you’ll reach a height of 669 meters above sea level, offering panoramic views of Cape Town that are hard to beat.

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I’m here to guide you through the loops, the turns, and the breathtaking viewpoints Lion’s Head has in store for you in 2023. Get ready to hit the trail and see what makes this hike one of the best things to do in Cape Town, South Africa. Stick with me as I share the details to make your Lion’s Head hiking adventure one for the books! 

How to Get to the Lion’s Head Hike Trail

Getting to the trailhead of Lion’s Head hike is the first step to your hiking adventure. It’s located just 15 minutes away from the Cape Town city center, making it easily accessible and a popular choice for locals and tourists alike. Here are some options on how to make your way there:

A budget-friendly and eco-conscious choice is hopping on one of Cape Town’s MyCity buses. Routes 106 and 107 are your go-to lines to reach Lion’s Head.

Once you get off at Kloof Nek Road, which sits at the base of Lion’s Head, it’s a short 600-meter walk to where your hiking journey begins.

To ride the MyCiti buses, you’ll need to get a MyConnect card for ZAR 35/US$2. A typical journey within the city will cost you less than a dollar, which is quite a steal.

Although the Cape Town Sightseeing bus doesn’t stop at Lion’s Head, it does stop at the Table Mountain Cable Car station. From there, it’s about a 2 km stroll to the Lion’s Head trail.

This hop-on-hop-off bus is a fantastic choice to see more of Cape Town at your own rhythm.

If the open road calls out to you, renting a car is your answer to heed that call. It’s not just about the flexibility it provides but also the shared laughs, the impromptu stops, and the freedom to explore Cape Town on your terms.

A rental car is an excellent option if you are with friends, as the price of the rental and gas is highly affordable.

I recommend checking out Europcar or Hertz for your car rental needs. They have a reputation for providing a variety of reliable vehicles to choose from, catering to different preferences and budgets.

Plus, their rental process is straightforward, ensuring you’re on the road with the least fuss.

To reach your destination from Cape Town, head southwest on Kloof Nek Rd/M62 until you reach the pass with Table Mountain on the left and Lions Head on the right. At the junction with Signal Hill Road, make a right turn. Proceed for 1km on Signal Hill Road until you spot the marked trailhead on the left.

If the thought of navigating the streets and the left-side driving in South Africa sends a wave of anxiety, worry not!

Uber is a click away and presents a hassle-free alternative to get you to the trailhead. It’s quick and reliable, and you won’t have to stress about finding parking once you get to Lion’s Head.

Solo travelers, here’s your fuss-free option! A guided tour to Lion’s Head ensures a smooth adventure from start to finish. Your day begins with a friendly guide picking you up from your hotel and easing any transport concerns.

Tours are a convenient way to connect with fellow adventurers. Shared smiles and collective awe at the vistas form a camaraderie that enriches the experience as you ascend together.

These tours often include knowledgeable guides. Their insights into local flora, fauna, and the Lions Head mountain history add layers to your adventure, making the hike more than just a physical challenge.

As the hike concludes and you’re transported back to your hotel, you’ll carry beautiful memories, perhaps new friendships, and a deeper appreciation for Cape Town’s captivating scenery.

No matter how you choose to get there, the journey to Lion’s Head is just the beginning of an unforgettable exploration awaiting you.

Parking At Lion’s Head Hike Trail

Parking near the starting point of the Lion’s Head hike can sometimes feel like a little adventure of its own, especially during those picture-perfect sunset times or the much-anticipated Full Moon hikes. Here are some spots you might consider:

  • Lion’s Head Hike Parking: Your closest bet is the Lion’s Head Hike Parking lot, located right where the trail kicks off. It’s super convenient, but keep in mind it fills up quickly, especially during popular hiking times.
  • Along Signal Hill Road: If the main lot is full, no worries! You can look for parking spots along Signal Hill Road. You’ll find some gravel areas along the side where you can park. It’s a bit of a walk to the trailhead, but totally doable.
  • Secret Spot on Signal Hill Road: Here’s a little nugget of local knowledge—there’s a somewhat “secret spot” on Signal Hill Road. It’s a gravel road that veers right, nestled between Lion’s Head and Signal Hill, about 2 km from the trailhead. It’s a quieter option if the other spots are bustling with cars.
  • Kloof Nek Parking: This is another solid option. Kloof Nek Parking is a dedicated area a little way off to the right from Lion’s Head en route to Table Mountain. It’s usually less crowded, and the walk to the trailhead is about 700 meters. Not too shabby!
  • Top of Signal Hill Parking: There’s also a parking area atop Signal Hill, which is about 2.6 km from the trailhead. It might be a stretch, and it’s often full, but on a good day, you might just snag a spot.

When Is the best time for Lion’s Head Hike?

Choosing the right time to venture up Lion’s Head can add a sprinkle of magic to your adventure. Of course the sunrise and sunset are the most magical moments. Here’s a closer look at what each time of day has to offer:

The early bird catches the worm, or in this case, a serene and cool hike up Lion’s Head. With fewer people around, the trail feels more like your own personal journey. You’ll be treated to a beautiful sunrise at the top, painting the sky with warm colors as Cape Town wakes up.

Plus, the early start means you’ll likely get to the top a bit quicker, all while enjoying the cooler morning air.

Going up at sunrise also means that it is very dark when you start to hike. Don’t forget to carry a light source and pay attention!

View in early morning from Lion's Head hike
The city is still illuminated before the sun emerges.

If you’re more of an evening person, a sunset hike might be right up your alley. The trails are a bit busier, but the atmosphere is lively. The sky illuminates with a beautiful orange glow as the sun sets, making the climb a visually stunning experience.

Just a heads-up: it might get dark as you head down, so I would recommend packing a light or headlamp as a wise move to navigate the trail safely.

There’s something magical about a full moon hike. The trails light up in a soft glow, making it a popular choice for many. The sight of the full moon from the top is mesmerizing.

However, it’s a bit darker, and safety should be a priority. A good headlamp, some buddies, or perhaps a guide could make this moonlit adventure more secure and enjoyable.

It’s wise to glance at the weather forecast before stepping out. A cloudy sky might dim the dramatic sunrise or sunset views, but on the flip side, it offers a cooler atmosphere for a mid-day hike when the sun is usually at its hottest.

Each time frame has charm and experience to offer on Lion’s Head. Be it the calm of the early morning, the vibrant energy of the evening, or the mystical ambiance of a moonlit night, your hike is sure to be a memorable one.

Do You Have to Pay for the Lion’s Head Hike?

Good news for your wallet! Hiking Lions Head is a free adventure waiting for you. There’s no entrance fee to worry about, so you can hit the trail without spending a dime.

And if you’re driving, there’s more good news. Lion’s Head parking is also free, making this a budget-friendly outing.

So, all you need to do is show up with a good pair of hiking boots, snacks, and a thirst for incredible views. Lion’s Head is ready to welcome you without any costs at the gate.

How Difficult is The Lion’s Head Hike?

Wondering about the challenge that awaits on Lion’s Head? Well, it’s a mix of exciting and demanding. Right from the get-go, the trail invites you with a steep incline, making it a moderately challenging route. But don’t let this deter you; the views are worth every step.

The difficulty level varies along the trail. Some parts of the trail could have you huffing a bit (or a lot, in my case), offering a good workout amidst nature’s beauty. 

How Long is The Lion’s Head Hike?

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The journey to the peak of Lion’s Head is as thrilling as the views from the top. Now, how long does this adventure take? Let’s dive into the details.

If you’re taking the Staple Route, which is the most straightforward path, you’re looking at about 75 to 90 minutes to reach the top. And when it’s time to head back down, it’ll take you around 60 to 75 minutes to reach the base.

It’s a well-spent time amidst nature, each minute offering a new perspective of Cape Town’s beauty. The primary route covers a distance of 5.3 kilometers (that’s about 3.2 miles) with a 400-meter ascent that gets your heart pumping in a good way, followed by a descent that’s gentler on the legs.

Now, if you opt for other routes, they’ll be slightly longer. The Spiral Route, for instance, adds a bit more distance to your hike, but it’s a chance to engage with a different terrain and possibly spot some wildlife.

You might find yourself spending an extra 30 to 45 minutes on this route compared to the Staple Route, but the added time is filled with new sights and sounds.

Similarly, the Circular Route takes you on a longer journey around the base of the mountain before merging with the standard route to the top. This detour will add about an extra hour to your hike. Yet, it’s a splendid way to see different facets of Lion’s Head and the surrounding landscapes.

Also, the pace at which you hike could alter the time it takes. If you’re someone who loves to take it slow, soaking in every bit of the scenery or snapping photos along the way, you might find yourself spending a bit more time on the trails.

But hey, hiking Lion’s Head isn’t a race. It’s about the journey, the fresh air, the panoramic views, and the sense of achievement when you reach the top.

Is the Lion’s Head Hike Safe?

Trekking up Lion’s Head in Cape Town is often described as an exhilarating and rewarding experience. It’s a beautiful trek with well-marked trails, making it a pretty safe adventure for most. Yet, like with any hike, a sprinkle of caution and prep can go a long way.

Checking the weather before you step out is smart since rainy days can make the paths slippery. The trail has a few steep spots that could be tricky, so daylight hikes are your best bet for clear visibility.

And hey, hiking with a buddy or a group is not only fun but also safer, especially if the trails are new to you. Pack some water and snacks, and slip into comfy footwear and clothing to keep your hike enjoyable.

It’s a good idea to share your hiking plans with someone so that they know where you’re off to. Considering your own fitness level and how comfortable you are with heights can also help you plan for a safe hike. With a little prep, your hike up Lion’s Head can be a safe, fun-filled adventure.

Lion’s Head Hike Routes

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Right in the heart of Cape Town, Lion’s Head trails welcome everyone, no matter if you’re a newbie or an experienced hiker. Each route has its own fun twists, ready to make your amazing hike a cool story to tell. As you step on the trail, the light breeze and chirping birds are like a friendly hello from nature.

So, grab your hiking boots, and let’s check out the route options waiting for you:

The standard route is your straight path to the top of Lion’s Head, offering a blend of moderate and challenging stretches. As you tread along, you’ll reach a point where the path splits into two:

  • Lion’s Head Staples Route: This route is the thrill-seeker’s choice! Here, you’ll use ladders and staples to climb your way to the top. It’s a bit of a challenge, but oh, the stories you’ll have to tell!
  • Lion’s Head Spiral Route: Often dubbed as the “recommended route,” this is a gentler climb to the Lion’s Head summit. It’s a longer hike, with some large rocks to maneuver around, but without the steep climbs that the Staples Route has. It’s perfect if you prefer a less daunting path yet still crave the adventure and the scenic beauty.

This route is your scenic walk in the park. Starting from the trailhead, you’ll move in a counter-clockwise fashion, which unfolds spectacular views from every angle of the mountain.

Follow the footpath leading towards Signal Hill, and you’ll eventually merge with the standard route. Here, you have three exciting options:

  • Take the Staples and Chains Route: If you’re up for the challenge, this path will lead you to the steeper climb to the top.
  • Take the “Recommended Route”: Opt for the Spiral Route if you prefer a less steep but equally rewarding climb to the summit.
  • Keep Walking: Fancy a full circle around the base of the mountain? Continue on this path to soak in all the views Lion’s Head has to offer before deciding if you want to head to the top.

Each route you choose to hike Lions Head offers its own unique adventure. Whether you’re in the mood for an adrenaline rush, a longer but less steep climb, or a scenic circular trek, Lion’s Head is ready to offer a fulfilling hiking experience.

Lion’s Head Hike: GUided Tours

Embarking on a guided Lion’s Head hike can enrich your experience as you venture up the trails of Lion’s Head. Not only will you gain insights from a local guide, but you’ll also enjoy the camaraderie of fellow adventurers. Let’s delve into some appealing guided hike options:

Nothing beats the tranquility and picturesque view of a sunrise or the serene beauty of a sunset from atop Lion’s Head. You can find tours offering these magical moments on websites like MoAfrika Tours.

They have a Lion’s Head Sunrise or Sunset Tour that lasts for 4 hours. You’ll meet at a specified departure location before you begin your journey to the summit to catch the sunrise or sunset​​.

Other Guided Hike Options

  • Adventure-Focused Hikes: If you’re seeking a bit of an adrenaline rush, consider guided hikes that challenge you on rocky trails and chain ladders. GetYourGuide lists a Lion’s Head Sunrise & Sunset Hike that promises a safe, thrilling, and unforgettable adventure​​.
  • Photography-Focused Hikes: For photography enthusiasts, picking a tour that emphasizes capturing the landscape’s beauty is a great choice. Viator has a Lion’s Head Sunrise/Sunset Hiking Tour from Cape Town central that offers insider tips on great landscape photography spots​​.
  • Social Hikes: If meeting new people and making friends from around the globe intrigues you, Tripadvisor lists a 2023 Lion’s Head Sunrise/Sunset Hiking Tour that encourages socializing while soaking up Cape Town’s famous sunrise or sunset views​.

Each of these tours has its unique flavor, catering to different preferences. Whether you’re a solo traveler or with a group, there’s a guided hike that will resonate with your adventurous spirit. So, which trail will you blaze?

LioN’s Head Hike: Frequently Asked Questions

Going solo on a Lion’s Head hike? It can be a thrilling idea. It’s always nicer to have a friend along, but don’t worry if you’re going solo.

You’ll find many fellow hikers on the trail, sharing smiles and maybe some trail tips. The atmosphere is friendly, making every hiker feel part of a larger group, even if they started off alone.

Choosing the right outfit can make your hike comfy and fun. Here’s a quick guide. Footwear is key—pick sturdy hiking boots or shoes that grip well. Dressing in layers is smart as it helps adjust to the temperature. Go for moisture-wicking clothes to stay dry.

Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to keep the sun at bay. And a light rain jacket could be a lifesaver if rain clouds roll in.

Me looking out from top of Lion's Head in Lion's Head Hike

Smart packing is the first step to a delightful hiking experience. If you plan to hit the trails around dawn or dusk, carrying a headlight can be a wise choice; it helps light the way and keeps you safe. Staying hydrated is a must, especially when you’re taking on the slopes of Lion’s Head.

So, a refillable water bottle should be on top of your packing list. For those moments when you need a quick pick-me-up, having some snacks like energy bars or nuts in your backpack is a great idea. They’ll provide the energy boost you need to continue enjoying every step of your hike.

Besides these, a basic first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and any personal medication you may need is also smart to have. It’s all about being prepared while keeping your backpack light for a comfortable hike.

Solo travelers, a guided tour could be your best bet. It’s a safe and structured way to explore, and you’ll meet other adventurers, too. Guided tours often have friendly guides sharing cool facts about Lion’s Head, making the hike more enriching.

Plus, the hotel pick-up and drop-off service is a bonus, taking the hassle out of getting to and from the trail.

Ultimate Guide to Lion’s Head Hike in Cape Town (2024)

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