The Diagonal Trail is one of the lesser-known Table Mountain hiking trails. It starts on the Camps Bay side of the mountain from the Pipe Track and ends on the top of Table Mountain. The route offers breathtaking scenery of the coast, the mountain range, and Camps Bay. For the scenery and the landscape, the Diagonal route is one of our favorite hiking trails in Cape Town.
Table of Contents
Diagonal route overview
- Distance – 11 km on the jeep track, 12 km on the Pipe Track
- Required time – 4-5 hours, depending on the chosen route
- Total ascent – 680 m
- Total descent – 680 m
- Starting point – Theresa Road, Camps Bay for the jeep track. Kloof Nek parking lot, Tavelberg Road for the Pipe Track.
- Finishing point – the top of Table Mountain, 700 m away from the Diving Board.
- Difficulty – 4 out of 5
- Terrain – footpath, rocks, boulders
- Lowest point – 289 m
- Highest point – 844 m
Suggested tours and activities
- Table Mountain and the Valley of the Red Gods Hiking Trail
- Table Mountain Cable Car, Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
- Table Mountain, Penguins & Cape Point Shared Tour
How long is the Diagonal trail on Table Mountain?
It’s a 12 km return trail if you walk on the Pipe Track from the Kloof Nek parking lot (Lion’s Head side) and an 11 km return trail if you walk on the jeep track from Theresa Road (Camps Bay side).
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Where does the Diagonal route start?
The ascent on the Diagonal route starts on the Camps Bay side of Table Mountain, from the Pipe Track trail. In order to get to the starting point you have to walk. You have two options. The first one is to walk on the Pipe Track from the Kloof Nek parking lot (the Lion’s Head side of Table Mountain). It’s a 2.5-kilometer stretch. The second one is to walk on the jeep track from Theresa Road (the Camps Bay side of Table Mountain). It’s a 2-kilometer route.
How to get to the trailhead?
Driving is the easiest way of getting to the trailhead. Overall if you want to visit places outside Cape Town’s City Bowl renting a car is the best way of doing it. You can rent a car at Cape Town airport on arrival and drop it off on departure.
You can use the hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus to get to the Diagonal Trail. It stops at the Lower Cable Car Station which is 1,5 km from the Kloof Nek parking lot.
Uber works well in Cape Town and it’s not expensive you can use it to commute within the city.
Where to park?
If you start on the Pipe Track then the Kloof Nek parking lot in the foothills of Table Mountain is the best. We’ve parked our car there many times with no problems. If you start on the jeep track then you can try to find a spot along Theresa Road.
Where on Table Mountain does the trail finish?
The Diagonal Trail finishes on the top of Table Mountain (Camps Bay side), 700 m away from the Diving Board, a famous rock cliff that reminds a diving board. The Upper Cable Car station is quite far from the end of the route. To get there you’ll have to walk 6,5 km on the Aqueduct Trail.
As an option, you can descend on the Kirstenbosch side of Table Mountain following the Skeleton Gorge hiking trail. The start of the trail is 3 km away from the end of the Diagonal Trail on the top of Table Mountain.
How difficult is the Diagonal route?
How to combine the Diagonal and the Kasteelspoort trails?
The starting and finishing points of both trails are situated close to each other. You can hike to the top of Table Mountain following one route and descend following a different route. From our experience, I would suggest going up on the Diagonal Trail and going down on the Kasteelspoort hiking trail. The Diagonal Trail is steeper it’s more difficult to go down.
How much does the hike cost?
To hike to the top of Table Mountain on the Diagonal trail is free if you don’t it on your own. There is no entrance fee or any other admission. As an option, you can join a guided walk. Then expect to pay around 80US$ per person.
Diagonal route map
Diagonal trail route description
Part 1. Kloof Nek parking lot to the start of the ascent
From 0 km to 2,5 km. The walk on the Pipe Track from the Kloof Nek parking lot to the start of the Diagonal route is quite easy. There are small and gradual ascents and descents but overall it’s a pleasant walk suitable for children.
If you walk on the jeep track from Camps Bay it’s 2 km to the starting point.
Part 2. The ascent to the top of Table Mountain
From 2,5 km to 5,5 km. It’s a steep and long ascent all the way to the top of Table Mountain. The beginning of it is on a footpath, the second half is over rocks and boulders. The views of Lion’s Head and Camps Bay on the way are spectacular. On the top, you’ll find the Diving Board which is around 500 m away from the trail. If you walk 1 km on the Aqueduct Trail you will reach Woodhead Reservoir.
Part 3. The descent
6,5 km to 9,5 km it’s a steep descent. The descent on the Diagonal Trail is steeper than on the Kasteelspoort Trail. The distance is the same.
Part 4. Walking back to the car
From 9,5 km to 12 km it’s an easy and flat walk on the Pipe Track. If you walk on the jeep track it’s 2 km to get all the way down.
When is the best time for hiking?
The dry season between November and March is the best time for walking the Diagonal route. During the peak summer months of December, January, and February it’s important to start walking early in the morning to finish the ascent before it gets too hot. It’s not recommended to walk the trail on a very windy day especially if you want to take photos on the Diving Board.
If you walk the Diagonal Trail between April and October always check the weather forecast to make sure you won’t get rainfall because the trail gets slippery (wet rocks and muddy footpath) which is a problem for going down.
What to take on the hike?
- Water. There is nowhere to buy or refill water along the route. Take 1.5-2l of water per person.
- Sunscreen. There is no shade on the trail you’ll be exposed to the sun for 4-5 hours.
- A cap.
- Comfortable shoes. Trail runners, sneakers, or light hiking shoes. Flip-flops are not suitable for the walk.
- A light long-sleeve jacket or a long-sleeve top. It’s often chilly on the top of Table Mountain.
- A mobile phone with a working SIM card in case of emergency. You can buy an e-IM card for South Africa to stay connected.
The pretty half of Stingy Nomads, responsible for all our land adventures (hiking, climbing, walking the Camino) and following them write-ups. Alya loves walking since she was a child, she prefers to walk 1000 km with a backpack rather than to do a 10 000 km road trip (actually any road trip). Alya is a big fan of Latin America, the Spanish language, and dancing. Every time we go away she desperately misses our dog Chile.