Sunday, May 16, 2010

Table Mountain, Golden Colorado

If you live in or have frequented Golden, Colorado, you would have noticed South Table Mountain one of the mountain peaks on the north side of town.  South Table mountain is funded by the Jefferson County Open Space and nearly the entire mountain is open for public use with numerous trails and routes to the top.  More information is available on the Jefferson County Open Space site here.  South Table Mountain is located just south of Coors which lies in the valley dividing North and South Table Mountains; there is additional hiking on North table Mountain found here.  
The best time to hike table mountain is during the springtime; the bright spring colors and wildflowers are in full bloom and the mountainside looks striking.
Getting there:  There are numerous routes and trails on South Table Mountain; the trails that I hiked yesterday (and my favorite trails) are located along 19th street and Belvedere Drive in Golden.  To get there from I-70 (exit 263) and South Golden Road, take South Golden Road west (also called Old Golden Road) for 2.9 miles until you reach the intersection with 19th street.  Turn right or North on 19th street and drive to the base of the mountain .2 miles to hike.  
There are three trailsheads along the small Belvedere Drive, one at each end of the street; and one in the center of the street right next to the pink/orange adobe house.  There is an open space sign at the start of the trailhead but there are no bathrooms or facilities here. Click here for google map. 

The Hike:  I started my hike at the base of South Table mountain; at the intersection of Belvedere Drive and 18th street.  This is a place I have hiked many, many times in the past, and it is the most beautiful during the springtime!  The mountain is tinted a bright green color and all along the trail there are bright Colorado wildflowers blooming.  The trail starts switch-backing up the mountain immediately and in just a short distance, you can check out the views of Golden and the surrounding front range mountains.  This is a great trail to take a visitor to the area, I have taken my mother on this climb to the peak and she loved it; it offers great views and you can accomplish hiking to the top of a peak.  The highest point, castle rock, stands 6,319 feet.  Reaching castle rock is approximately 1 hour round trip; continue following the trail up the mountain, once you reach the base of the mountain there is a small bench which used to have a map naming the mountains in the distance (this has since been destroyed by vandals, unfortunately).  
This is a great stopping point if you don't want to climb the extra 20 minutes to reach castle rock continue past the bench along the trail and it comes to an end at a rock outcropping; this is the toughest part of the climb to the peak; you might need to use your hands to carefully scramble the few feet over the top of the mountain.  You can see this in the photo to the left with the dogs.  Once over this rock outcropping, continue along the trail toward the Castle Rock outcropping.  There are stairs at the base of Castle Rock; take the stairs to the top for the best views of Golden and the Coors factory in the valley below.  To reach the peak and back takes about an hour in total.  For a longer hike, continue walking on the top of South Table Mountain along one of the many obvious trails on the mountain.  Be sure to keep track of where you climbed up the mountain, there are many trails that will take you down the mountain that may be above your climbing ability, or will take you to a different side of the mountain altogether leaving you far from your car.  
This trail is one that I have frequented for many years since I moved to Colorado 7.5 years ago, and one of my favorite places to hike.  Often while in Golden, I can look up at Castle Rock and see other climbers standing on the peak, and knowing the views they are seeing below.  
If you have hiked here before, I'd love to hear your hiking journey, please leave a comment! 

Click on map below to get personal driving directions to the hikes.

View Larger Map


  1. Thanks for the writeup. I'm moving to Colorado in a couple weeks. I haven't yet decided on where I'm going to live for sure, but Golden is on my short list. I'll have to check out this trail.

  2. Hi Steve; Golden is a great town because you are close to the mountains and the city! You get the best of both worlds :)

  3. Hike there 3/18/11. Was a great & easy hike. We did Castle rock in 30mins.

  4. I climbed this trail with a friend and it was amazing. Its not a long trail to get to the top of the mountain per say, but its ALL uphill so if you are new to colorado try to never get winded and drink lots of water. That being said, i saw a mother and her two young girls climbing the mountain so no excuses! You'll love the view from the top its breathtaking!