Lion’s Head is the distinct slope next to Table Mountain. It forms part of Table Mountain National Park, and has stunning endemic flora. Look out for silver trees growing on the lower half of the mountain. The silvery sheen comes from tiny hairs covering the leaves. This species is unique to the Cape Peninsula. On top of the summit you can see Peninsula Sandstone fynbos, an ecosystem which is only found here and at Cape Point.
The mountain does not look like a Lions Head but was named as such by the Dutch in the 17th Century.
Normal Circular Clockwise Route to the top: The beginning it is quite relaxed on a wide hiking trail, but the actual Lion’s Head is a bit challenging and climbed over ladders, chains and climbing grips. It takes between 45 and 90 min to the top, depending on your fitness level.
There are benches along the path where you can take a break and admire the view. You’ll pass the green netting-covered area where paragliders launch just before the path narrows into one with stone steps veering right and uphill.
The reward is the summit plateau at 670 metres, from which one has a wonderful 360 degree view of the city, Table Mountain, the Atlantic seaboard and the Twelve Apostles. The summit has a partially concreted surface so you can walk around and appreciate the views.
Alternative quieter route to the top using ladders and chains: From the base, it circles anti-clockwise, passing a kramat that was erected in remembrance of two apartheid-era religious leaders. It then joins the main route to the top, or you can follow it all the way around back to where you started.
Route to the top avoiding chains and most ladders: If you’d prefer to avoid the climbing and chains, a roundabout route (that’s still quite steep) adds half an hour to your hike. There is just one ladder.
Circle the Lion’s Head and avoid the top: Suitable for a variety of ages and fitness levels. Look out for the sign-posted path veering left which takes you all the way around the mountain.
Sunrise, sunset and full moon night hiking. Regardless of the season, every full moon, and the nights before and after, Lion’s Head literally lights up with hikers. It’s become an institution for hikers to set off in the early evening, reach the summit in time to watch the sunset, and head down by moonlight. It’s a fun, social and relatively safe experience.
Start + end point: Lion’s Head parking lot, which can be reached via the Lion’s Head / Signal Hill turn-off from Kloof Nek Road. You will see a sign with some information and the red gravel path that gives access to the top of Lion’s Head.
Distance and Duration: 5 Km (3.1 mi) both ways and the elevation gain is 369m. 1.5 – 3 hours (up and down)
Child-friendly: Use the circular route avoiding the top.
Watch Point: The weather changes quickly and you may get cloud cover. Take a jacket even in summer. Try to avoid windy and wet days.
TMNP emergency numbers: 086 110 6417, 107 or 021 937 0300