This relatively short but very steep climb up Simonsberg has some very rewarding views. The hike through the elegant vineyards of Tokara add 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.

View of Simonsberg from Tokara Wine Estate, South Africa.
Simonsberg from Tokara Wine Estate.

Location

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.

Trail Route

8.5 km | 4.5 to 6 hours | 1020 m up | 1020 m down | 1390 m high | 385 m low

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

  • Bring a sunhat and sunscreen and plenty of water.
  • Start early as it can get hot, especially in summer when we did it.
  • Afterwards, you can reward yourself with a lunch and/or wine tasting at Tokara Wine Estate*, or get some goodies from their deli.

Tokara Vineyard

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. It gets steeper and steeper.

Ripe grapes of Tokara.
Ripe grapes of Tokara.
View from the slope of Simonsberg to Helshoogte and Tokara.
View from the slope of Simonsberg towards Helshoogte.

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 beatiful views of the vineyards on Helshoogte and the nearby mountains. We saw some beautiful flowers and butterflies on the way.

Purple flowers.
Nice flowers and butterflies on top of Simonsberg.
Yellow black butterfly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How high is Simonsberg?

Simonsberg in South Africa reaches 1,390 m above sea level.

Why is it called Simonsberg?

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.

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.

Panorama on top of Simonsberg near Tokara.
View from the top of Simonsberg hike.

The views from the top are amazing. Literally 360 degrees of views 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 which happened to visiting Babylonstoren, one of the vineyards in the Franschhoek valley just below Simonsberg.

Vicky on top of Simonsberg after the hike from Tokara.
Tom descending from 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. It’s gardens are beautiful and the wine is excellent. We can especially recommend the Tokara Director’s Reserve White!

Tokara wine estate.
The Beautiful Tokara Wine Estate.

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