Dark Gorge, which lies within the Table Mountain National Park, is exactly what its name says it is – dangerous, shrouded in dark areas and loose rocks; and not recommended unless you’re a seasoned hiker.
However, if you can contend with the difficult terrain and are an excellent climber then you’re in for one of the most spectacular routes. There is something truly special about being able to traverse an area most have never seen – and then there’s the views and the atmosphere which has been described as ‘nothing short of magical’.
The Dark Gorge is one of Table Mountain’s best kept secrets, mostly because it’s not a recommended route and there are signs at both the start and finish warning hikers of its treacherous conditions. The sign reads: “WARNING: extremely dangerous. DO NOT attempt ascend.”
If you are confident enough, the trail can be accessed from the Newlands Forest area.
What makes this hike so dangerous?
- There is loose terrain so rocks move around when you step, which makes it difficult to hike
- The rocks are covered in moss which also makes them slippery
- If it has rained within a week of your planned hike, do not attempt it because the rain creates even more difficult conditions
- If you are afraid of ledges or heights you should avoid this route as there are plenty of these
- Because of the steep inclines, you need a high level of fitness
- The trail is not frequented therefore the path can become unclear and it is easy to veer far off the route and get lost
What you should know before you attempt this hike
Depending on factors like the weather and fitness levels, it could take anything from 4 – 7 hours to complete the hike. It is important to inform your inner circle of friends and family know if you are attempting this route. If you hike in a group, which is highly recommended, make sure there is a 5-metre distance between each person. Please note that the warning on the SANParks boards are there for a valid reason and should be seriously considered before you attempt this hike. It’s also not suitable for children and dogs.