The hike up Little Lions Head is a relatively short, but with some tricky little scrambles. From the top, you have 360-degree views over Hout Bay, Llandundo and the surroundings.

View over Hout Bay from Little Lions Head
View over Hout Bay from Little Lions Head

Location

Start from Valley View Drive, at the top of Mount Rhodes estate in Hout Bay. It’s a roughly 30-minute drive from the centre of Cape Town. There is parking on the side of the road, within the Mount Rhodes gated estate.

Trail Route

2.5 km | 1-1.5 hour | 240 m up | 240 m down | 437 m high | 196 m low

Leaving your car, the hike starts through a gate to continue along the trail. This gate is open for pedestrians during daylight hours (see Tips below).

Gate at the start of the Little Lions Head Trail.
Gate at the start of the trail, pedestrian entrance open on right.

Tips

  • Even though this hike is short, there are a few tricky little scrambles. However, there is never any great exposure.
  • The path is clear to start with, then becomes less so. Keep on heading towards the top, look out for the little cairns.
  • This hike starts through some gates. These are only open 6am-8pm in summer, 8 am-6:30 pm in winter
  • If the gate is locked, you’ll need to buzz the intercom for security to come and open it for you.
  • Find more hikes near Cape Town and rest of South Africa in our South Africa Guide.

Once you’re through the gate, continue along the road. Take the left fork at the end, and you’ll see a trail leaving from the tarmac towards the top of Little Lions Head. After 100 metres, you’ll meet a much clearer trail heading upwards.

Bench on the way up Little Lions Head
Distracting bench
Llandundo, Cape Town
Overlooking Llandudno

You’ll see a bench on the oceanside. Admire the view from this bench, but don’t continue on the small trail that contours around the side. Return back to the main trail, to continue upwards. The trail becomes less obvious. Look out for the small cairns. Remember, always head for the top.

Cairn on the way up Little Lions Head
Cairn example near the beginning
Cairn on the way up Little Lions Head
Cairn example half-way up

Nearer the top, there is some scrambling. You might have to search a bit for the cairns, and the best way up. Only one bit required a little skill, the rest was simple scrambling.

Scramble on the way up Little Lions Head, Cape Town
Scramble up.
Scramble on the way up Little Lions Head, Cape Town
The most difficult scramble.

After some more scrambling and searching for cairns, you’ll reach the top. The views from here are great, with 360-degree visibility. You can see the beaches and towns of Hout Bay and Llandundno, as well as the mountains of Karbonkelberg, Constantiaberg and the Table Mountain massif to the north.

At the top of Little Lions Head
At the top of Little Lions Head

From the top, hike back down the way you came. Take care on the scrambles, as they can be harder on the way down than on the way up! Soon you’ll be back at the road at the bottom, and back through the gates to your car.

Geology of Little Lions Head

There is an important change in rock type as you go up Lions Head. At the top are layers of sandstone. In contrast, the lower slopes are covered with rugged granite boulders.

Granite boulders in the foreground, layered sandstone at the top.

The boundary between two different rock types is called a contact. You cross the contact on this trail, roughly halfway up the mountain. See if you can tell when the rock type underfoot changes from granite to sandstone!

View over Hout Bay
View over Hout Bay and Constantiaberg

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