Many of us love to get to the top – not just for the views, but also just because it’s there, waiting to be conquered! At Phillipskop Mountain Reserve you have two options – climbing to the summit of Phillipskop (487m) itself, or hiking up to the ridge and climbing to the highest point on the reserve, which is 88m higher than Phillipskop peak. Both these routes start from and return to the Saddle. After the exhilaration of reaching the top(s), you may wish to continue on around the mountain, returning to your starting point via a circular route.
Saddle and Summit Hiking Trail
This trail has long but gradual ascent along the western slopes of Phillipskop up to the Saddle between Phillipskop and the main ridge of the Klein River Mountains. It passes through The Gateposts and then past the two mini rock stacks, Peter & Paul. At the Saddle it is worth pausing for a breather, to enjoy the view – you can see the sea from here. From the Saddle, the path to the Summit of Phillipskop zigzags steeply upwards. Please keep to the path to avoid erosion. The views from the top are magnificent and well worth the climb – to the north are the Klein River Mountains, and you can see a glimpse of the mountains beyond over the top of the ridge; to the south you are looking across the Overberg towards Gansbaai and the sea. If you walk a little way along the top, you will be rewarded with views down towards the self-catering cottages – perfect for a photo opportunity.
Return to the Saddle via the same route, and then you will need to decide which way to continue onwards. You can head back down the mountain the way you came up, or continue on around the mountain, descending via the Hidden Valley behind Phillipskop, towards the Rock Stacks. Towering above this beautiful and peaceful valley are Eagle Crags, where you may be fortunate enough to spy our resident Black Eagles soaring. Keep a lookout for Klipspringer too as you walk through the valley. When you reach the Rock Stacks you can return on the Rock Stacks Hiking Trail, or climb down by the waterfall to join the Candlewood Hiking Trail.
Ridge Trail & the Highest Point
From the Saddle you can also hike up to the main ridge of the Klein River Mountains, and to the highest point on Phillipskop Mountain Reserve, Haarkapper Peak. Follow the path from the Saddle to the “Pimple” on the ridge. From here you can see a clear path in front of you which heads both east and west – this path was the route of the 2017 Cape Epic bike ride. As you join this path take a note of where you are, so that you can find the path leading back to Phillipskop from the Pimple when you return. Head east (go right) along the cycle path until you see the cairn of Phillipkop Mountain Reserve’s highest point (575m) just off to your left. (Please do not continue along the path beyond this cairn without the correct permit, as that is no longer our land a permit is required to go any further - see Haarkapper Hiking Trail for further details).
From Haarkapper Peak you will have a stunning view of Phillipskop Peak and the rest of the reserve below you to the south; the Klein River Mountain range stretches both east and west; and in the north you can look down on Tesselaarsdal and across to Steenboksberg, and on clear days see as far as Caledon and the Riviersonderend Mountains. Return to the Saddle via the same route that you came up, and then decide which way you will choose to head down the mountain.