This relatively short but very steep climb up Simonsberg has some very rewarding views. The hike through the elegant vineyards of Tokara and Simonsberg Nature Reserve adds to the splendid views of the Franschhoek valley and nearby mountain ranges. The ideal hike if you want to get rid of those extra calories from the wining and fine dining.
This half-day hike starts at Tokara Wine Estate on the Helshoogte pass near Stellenbosch. It is 50 minutes and 60 km drive from Cape Town. Drive past the restaurant and deli to the security gate at the end of the drive. Sign in for the hike with the guard, it’s free. He will tell you to park near the gate. Make sure to arrive early as it can get hot here. It was when we did the hike in February 2020.
We arrived on a Saturday at 8 am at the security gate and signed in with the friendly guard. He asked whether it was our first time and told us people take a long time to hike this, 7-8 hours. We just took a few snacks and our small running packs full of water.
Tips on Simonsberg
The first part of the hike is on a track along the pretty vineyard of Tokara. As you go up, the grapes change from red varietals to whites. After a while, the vineyard ends and the fynbos starts. The track continues to a reservoir, from where you take a small path up into Simonsberg Nature Reserve. It gets steeper and steeper.
After a while of going straight up, the path turns left along the slope of the mountain. After 500m the last ascent starts by turning right up a gulley. Parts of this hike are pretty steep with loose rocks, so be careful and don’t walk too close to others. Looking back down rewards you with beautiful views of the vineyards on Helshoogte and the nearby mountains. We saw some beautiful flowers and butterflies on the way.
Views from Simonsberg
Near the top, the steep climb levels off and you reach a plateau. Not far from here the top appears with the typical concrete cylinder and in this case a cross.
The views from the top are amazing. Literally 360 degrees of view open up at the top, over Stellenbosch, Tokara and Helshoogte, the Franschhoek valley as well as the Paarl valley. It is absolutely stunning. We had our snacks at the top and waved down to my parents who happened to be visiting Babylonstoren, one of the vineyards in the Franschhoek valley just below Simonsberg.
We went back the way we came. The way down is unfortunately as steep as the way up, so take it slow and don’t slide. The guard was surprised to see us back already after 4:15 hours. We were exhausted though.
After the hike, since you are there, go and visit Tokara. Its gardens are beautiful and the wine is excellent. We can especially recommend the Tokara Director’s Reserve White! Check out our Cape Winelands Highlights for other things to do in the area.
FAQ on Simonsberg
Simonsberg in South Africa reaches 1,390 m above sea level.
Simonsberg is called after Simon van der Stel, the first governor of the Dutch Cape Colony. Stellenbosch, Simon’s Town and Simonsig vineyard are also named after him.
Simonsberg Nature Reserve is managed by Cape Nature. The foothills of Simonsberg are part of the Greater Simonsberg Conservancy, protecting critically endangered Swartland Shale Renosterveld and Mountain Fynbos.