North Table Mountain Park: Northeast Loop | Colorado | 12/23/19

North Table Mountain Park | Jefferson County Open Space

Golden, CO | 12/23/19 | 6.32 miles | 1,003′ gain

I got a little behind with my writing (oops!) so you’ll see a few December posts before I get into January’s hikes.

Kyle and I both had off for a week and a half over the holidays, so we snuck out for a few hikes in between Christmas shopping, family time, and the stray snow storm. On our first weekday off, it was unseasonably warm for December so it only made sense to go hiking. We chose to do another section at North Table Mountain Park after having hiked a loop on the western side of the park a few years before. We started at the East Access parking area and followed the access road to the Lithic Trail.

Access road to get to the main part of the park

The short Lithic Trail switch-backed up 200′ or so and popped us out on the North Table Loop, which is the main loop around the park.

Otis found a pile of snow to cool off in. 60* in December!?

We headed north and followed the North Table Loop and Tablerock Trails around the north side of the park. We were surprised to have this section nearly to ourselves. It would appear that most people stick to the more southern trails.

Along the North Table Loop

The North Table Loop encircles the base of North Table Mountain, so we were constantly looking up at the cliffs.

I’m obsessed with cliffs.
A fun overlook, you can see the skyline of Denver in the distance.
Looking back along the North Table Loop. It looks like North Table Mountain extends far into the distance, but that’s actually South Table Mountain peeking out.
Northernmost part of the North Table Loop, looking west to the foothills.

The trail is rated “Moderate” but I probably would have called it easy. Once on North Table Loop, you don’t gain much elevation.

Have I mentioned that I’m obsessed with cliffs?
I believe these are dried rose hips from Wood’s (wild) rose.

I didn’t want to stay below the mesa for the entire hike, so we took the Mesa Top Trail to the top. This trail would actually take us almost all the way back to our starting point, so it made the most sense when choosing a smaller loop.

Looking back along the Mesa Top Trail, yucca in the foreground.
Boulder’s Flatirons can be seen in the distance

North Table Mountain is extremely large, so large that when you’re on top, you think you’re really just back on the plains and not on a mesa at all.

Case in point. Mesa top or plains? (It’s the top!)

We found some interpretive signage along the Mesa Top Trail that talked about the different wildlife that lives on the mesa. The mule deer on the sign’s picture became a reality as we finished reading and finally looked up.

Mule deer

I’d wanted to tack on a side loop called the Rimrock Trail, but it was getting late and we had plans with friends that evening. There’s always next time! So we continued along the Mesa Top Trail to it’s junction with the east side of the North Table Loop, near the Lithic Trail.

Before descending the Mesa Top Trail, we had to get a quick picture.

This section of trail was the only part of the day that was rated “Difficult”. It was definitely steep and rocky, and icy conditions didn’t help much.

Into the unknown…

But we were able to walk along the cliffs we’d looked up at just a few hours before, and that was pretty neat!

I might like cliffs.

The steep Mesa Top Trail quickly popped us out just a mile from our car, and we followed the familiar Lithic Trail and access road back down, just in time to get home and get ready for dinner.


11 thoughts on “North Table Mountain Park: Northeast Loop | Colorado | 12/23/19

  1. ahuva18

    LOVE the overlook shot with Denver in the background! What a great juxtaposition of environments!!! Sure looks like Otis enjoyed his snow. 🙂


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