Tuesday, November 16, 2010

North Table Mountain, Golden Colorado, A New Jeffco Trailhead!

Lone tree on the top of Table Mountain;
It has been a week or so since I have made it out to the trails due to my business picking up for the holiday season; and while I am glad for the increase in business, I miss hiking!  Even though I didn't have much time last week, I made sure to get outside at least one day and I combined it with a photo shoot for my new hiking cowl The Peak, getting two things done at once! 
I have been eager to hit up North Table Mountain because Jefferson County Open Space has been busy creating a new trailhead with lots of parking, a bathroom and even a trail map with mileage to take with while hiking.   There are two loops on the mesa, and a couple of other side trails for a total 7+ miles of hiking and biking paths.  Now, this trail has always been on North Table Mountain, but it was never an "official" trailhead with bathrooms or maintained trails.  This hike will take you all over the top of North Table Mountain with views of the Flatirons, City of Denver, Golden and Applewood.  There are numerous animals on Table Mountain as well, so keep your eyes peeled for deer, coyotes, bunnies, foxes and even elk; all which I have seen at one time or another on this mountain! 

Getting There:  The trailhead is on the North side of Golden off Hwy 93 on the east side of the road.  Just as you leave the last buildings in Golden on Hwy 93, you will see the trailhead sign, which is a large Open Space sign at the turn which is just north of Pine Ridge Road.  

Looking down into Golden, CO
SpecsHere is the link to the Jeffco Open Space information about the new Table Mountain Park and the restoration information.  And here is the link to the Table Mountain page with other information.   The trailhead currently offers a port-o-pot, but restrooms are currently being built, there is ample parking, and a trail map.  The trailhead provides access to over 7 miles of hiking and biking trails.  Dogs are asked to be on a leash per Open Space Rules and Regulations, however, on top of the mountain your dog could be off leash under sight and sound control without much incident if you are cautious.  This trail can be crowded on weekends, but usually isn't terribly crowded during the week and weeknights. 

The Journey:  For some reason, I was in a grumpy mood and knew that I really needed to get outside for a hike and to get some endorphins flowing through my body.  Usually, choosing a hike is a process for me, there are so many trails and which one should I pick; but I have known for several weeks now that I wanted to hike the new trailhead on Table Mountain. 
The trailhead offers two choices to start the hike, go up and go up faster and steeper.  I chose the faster and steeper option (you won't be able to miss what I am talking about when you get there) because it was cold out and I needed to warm up!  The dogs and I started hiking up the mountain and immediately were greeted with views of the City of Golden and Mt. Galbraith behind us.  I snapped several photos of the views and of my neck warmer that I was modeling for the hike and continued up to the top of the mountain.  Several mountain bikers passed me biking up and down the steep incline doing intervals but the trail here is really wide and it wasn't crowded at all, even with the dogs. 
The sun coming out for our hike back
After about 15 minutes I got to the top of the mesa and it was there that I totally missed the huge trail loop with signs on two large rocks because I noticed the quarry on the southeast side of the trail and walked that way to snap photos.  I ended up coming out to the main trail, and continued hiking east toward the city; by then I was warming up and the sun was starting to peek out of the thick cloud cover.  Then I noticed two mule deer about 100 yards from me and I watched them for a short while, until the dogs whined that we keep hiking (they must not have seen the deer).  We continued hiking until we reached the end of the mountain with Coors and the valley below us.  The trail here continues down the mountain and back to another parking lot on the East side of Table Mountain.  Since I didn't want to do this, we stopped to eat an apple, then hiked back the way we came, but staying on the trail instead of going into the quarry.  There are several social trails on North Table Mountain which aren't marked on the map, and several other locations you can start your hike besides the new Jeffco trailhead.  Eventually the wide trail took me back to the quarry and the place where I took a wrong turn, I chuckled to myself that had I just kept walking another 50 feet, I would have seen the obvious signs and my hike would have taken a different turn, literally!  After about an hour and a half, we were back in the car and ready to head home, rejuvenated and ready to finish my orders! 
Table Mountain is a great place to hike on a sunny afternoon after work, have a picnic dinner and watch the sun set over the mountains or get up early and watch the sun rise as you spot animals on the mesa.  Both North and South Table Mountain have numerous trails and are some of my favorite reasons to live in Golden. 

Click on map below to input your personal directions.  Marker is just a few yards short of the trailhead, continue north for seconds and you will see the trailhead on the east side of the street.

View Larger Map

Trail Map at trailhead.  Click for larger image and to zoom


  1. I am glad you reviewed this trail I have been wanting to check it out, but didn't know it was completed yet! I did South Table Mountain last spring and got lost up there, I wasnt' too impressed with it except for the final ascent to the Golden overlook. I'll have to check out the North side soon.

  2. Both North and South table mountains have pretty similar hikes and views (I think anyway), but they are good trails in the winter, or when family is visiting because it's an easy hike to a peak that just about anyone can do. They are pretty close to me, and I hike them both all the time. Spring is the best time, when everything is in bloom! Both you can hike all around on the top of the mountain, just be sure to watch where you need to go back down...:)

  3. Do you know the mileage of any of the loops starting from NREL trailhead off of Denver west Pkwy right past the apartments?

  4. Anonymous, I live real close to the NREL trails and had been planning on hiking there this week; so today was a perfect day after your question. I hiked from the NREL parking lot up the Tertiary Trail to the Balsalt Cap Loop and back the same way. The total mileage was almost exactly 3 miles or 4.91km. There are other trails you can take to make the hike longer.

  5. Here is the trip report for NREL http://trailparkreviews.blogspot.com/2011/03/nrel-trailhead-on-south-table-mountain.html