The Silvermine Nature Reserve, which is near Noordhoek and Constantia, is a good place for hiking. It’s close to the city and therefore the ideal nature reserve to escape from the busy daily life. Also, comparing to hikes up Table Mountain which start at Kirstenbosch, Silvermine’s hiking trails are relatively gentle and easy. During last days of proper summer (as in: sunshine, blue skies, a high 27+ degrees) the Mr and me decided to do the Elephant’s Eye Cave hiking trail. It turned out to be a beautiful, not too difficult walk up, with great views of False Bay, Muizenberg and Constantia. In the distance you could see Gordon’s Bay and her backdrop mountain ranges! When we did our hike the weather wasn’t completely clear, but the light fog gave the valley just that extra character and it was actually very pretty. On the way back, when the temperatures rised, the fog disappeared and we could see the Constantia wine valley, all in detail.
Silvermine Nature Reserve is divided in two section by the Ou Kaapse Weg. At the west section (closest to Tokai/Constantia) most of the trails will start. Also the Silvermine Dam can be found on this side. The reserve is home to lots of different birds, like Egyption goose, swallows, orange-breasted and malachite sunbirds, Cape sunbirds, rock kestrels, kites, buzzards and peregrine falcons. If you are very lucky you can even spot a black eagle. Besides birds (and baboons, porcupine, lynx, grysbok, genet and tortoise) you’ll find over 750 species of fynbos vegetation. Especially during spring it’s a flower heaven! As a result of the terrifying destroying fire last year (summer 2014-2015), you can still notice parts of the Silvermine nature reserve are black and burned, recovering from this natural disaster. Nevertheless, nature is strong and most of life and green is back already. Scroll down to see the photos I made during our hike, and also to read more about Silvermine Nature Reserve, the Reservoir Dam, and the different hiking trails one can do.
Elephant’s Eye Cave trail (entrance from Silvermine West)
The trail we did will lead you to a natural cave rock structure, which from a distance looks (a bit) like the head of an Elephant, with the cave being the eye. I have to say: Lion’s Head is more clear.. But if you look a bit longer you will see an Elephant’s head, with his trunk on the left, the body on the right, and a black hole in the middle which could be his eye. Well, with a big bush, or tree, in it. Anyway, Elephant’s Eye Cave is a 3km one way hike, so 6km in total. When you are almost at the cave, you pass the Tokai Lookout, which offers great views of the Constantia valley and Cape Flats. In my opinion Elephant’s Eye is an easy hike. You do go up a bit, but it’s not a difficult climb of hours and hours. It will take you not more than 2.5 hours to the cave and back again to the parking. If you are fit you can be in 45 minutes on top. And within 30 minutes back (really). The trail starts from the parking near the reserve. You will find a clear sign.
Hello Elephants Eye Cave! Do you see an elephant in the rock?
At the top! Inside the Eye of the Elephant. Together with some greens. Ha!
Noordhoek Peak Circuit (entrance from Silvermine West)
Take the gravel road that crosses the river below the reservoir wall. Pass the concrete dam. The path then climbs up to the lookout front from where you can enjoy majestic views of the Noordhoek valley and Long Beach. The Noordhoek Peak Circuit is a 9,3 km round trip which will take about 2.5-3 hours in total. For a fit hiker it will be shorter. The trail starts at 400m and the peak is about 754m, so it will rise a bit (but not extremely). At the top you can enjoy panoramic views of Hout Bay, Chapman’s Peak Drive and the Sentinel.
After a few minutes on the Elephants Eye trail you have already beautiful views of the nature reserve with the dam. And can you see as the backdrop the mountain towards Noordhoek?
Circle the Silvermine Reservoir Dam (entrance from Silvermine West)
At the nature reserve there is a beautiful dam where you can walk around on a boardwalk. It’s lovely and a very easy, 1.6 km walk around it. Because of the perfect pathway it’s suitable for young, old, fit or unfit. Also prams and wheelchairs won’t be a problem at all. Swimming in the dam is safe, although there are no lifeguards on duty. Lots of South African families will spend hot summer days here. Swimming, picnicking, having fun. During the cooler months, when there is low risk of field fire, it’s also aloud to make a fire and to braai.
Silvermine River Walk (entrance from Silvermine West)
Start at Hennies pool picnic area, then follow the footpath on the south bank up the reservoir. The trail won’t take you any longer that 1-1.5 hour. Hennies pool picnic area can be found if you turn right almost directly after you entered the Silvermine Reserve (from the west side of Ou Kaapse weg, closest to Tokai). For the other walks in the western part of the reserve, and for the dam, you have to continue straight a bit longer, and look out for the second (and bigger) parking lot.
The Silvermine Dam reservoir and the boardwalk around it is so peaceful.
Steenberg Peak (entrance from Silvermine East)
Follow the gravel road past the waterfall to Junction Pool, a distance of approximately 3km. Continue along the jeep track towards Steenberg Peak, where there are fine views of the Tokai and Constatiaberg Valleys. To complete this circular route, the path descends to Wolfkop. All together it won’t take you any longer thant 2.5-3hours
Kalk Bay Mountains via Echo Valley (entrance from Silvermine East)
This walk offers the most spectacular mountain scenery. Follow the gravel road to Junction Pool. Continue along the tracy bearing right towards Nellies Pool. Proceed right again and leave the trail at a stone cairn in the path which takes you past the mountain’s twin summit. Further along you will find Spes Bona Valley and the Amphitheatre, after which you can continue down to Kleintuinkloof from where you can make your way back to the Wolfkop parking area. This whole trail is about 3.5-4 hours walk (less than that if you are fit and don’t take much breaks)
Silvermine Nature Reserve is part of SANParks Table Mountain National Park and is 20 minutes drive from the city centre of Cape Town.
Adress: Off Ou Kaapse Weg, near Tokai and Constantia, on the way to Noordhoek. The Ou Kaapse Weg divides Silvermine in two sections: West of Ou Kaapse Weg (which you will reach first from the Tokai side) and East of Ou Kaapse Weg (closest to the Noordhoek side).
Silvermine is open 7 days a week from 7.00 – 19.00 (summer) and 8.00 – 18.00 (winter). The entrance fee for adults is R45 and for children R20. If you have a WILD card entrance is free of charge. At the entrance gate you can get a map of the reserve, including all the hiking trails and distances.
Telephone number: +27 (0)21 780 9002
Silvermine offers walks, trails, a dam for swimming and certain picnic and braai areas (check upfront if it’s aloud to make a fire, regarding drought).
There is a West and a East side entrance, but for the Dam and the trails we did (Elephant’s Eye) you have to take the West side.
Keep in mind
Never hike alone. Wear good shoes. Always take water with you. Don’t make fire at the reserve if it’s not aloud (during drought in summer).
I hope my article was useful for you and you will enjoy a hike soon in this beautiful part of the world.