If you ever hike or drive in Golden, it’s time to visit North Table Mountain. North Table Mountain is the large mesa north of the Coors Brewery, in between Highways 58 and 93.
I’ve been hiking North Table Mountain since before the trails had signs. After years of watching the changes, the park trails are almost complete. Jefferson County Open Space is now boosting that the park has 14 miles of trail.
The latest addition is the 7.5-mile North Table Mountain Loop. Parts of the trail have been there, but the entire loop was completed and opened in late-December 2012.
The North Table Mountain Loop starts and ends in the parking lot off Highway 93 (directions below). Hikers begin by hiking up a wide and steep gravel road. Expect about 450 feet of elevation gain in the first .7 miles. This ascent can be tough, but after that, the hike gets much easier.
At the top of the mesa, hikers will pass a sign for the North Quarry climbing area, then come to a trail split for the Tilting Mesa Trail and North Table Loop. For several years, the loop trail was actually an out-and-back, but now it’s a loop. From the split, turn right on the North Table Loop and follow it about 0.4 mile to another split with a sign for the Golden Cliffs climbing area. I suggest taking this short .25 mile trail to the top of a hill and a viewpoint of the Coors Brewery, Lookout Mountain and the Golden valley.
Back on the main trail, the next two miles of the North Table Loop Trail is really interesting. The trail turns east and soon heads down a valley. This section of the trail is new and winds around the cliffs of North Table Mountain. There are a couple unmarked and marked trail splits providing access to the nearby neighborhoods, but just stay on the main trail and enjoy the cliffs. The trail here is typically just wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side and talk.
Just under three miles from the trailhead, the North Table Loop Trail intersects with the Cottonwood Canyon Trail. This area was part of the trail system several years ago, but was closed. The trail has now been rerouted and reopened. Here’s it decision time, you can hike up the Cottonwood Canyon Trail, back to the top of the mesa and hike back across or continue on the loop.
From here, the loop trail winds around to the east side of the mesa and then the north side. On the east side you’ll have nice views of the metro area, the tall buildings of downtown Denver and beyond. On the north side of the mesa, you’ll see some of the nearby neighborhoods. The The trail continues to wind around the mesa back to Highway 93 and back to the parking lot.
Personal note: At the Cottonwood Canyon Trail split, I prefer to take the canyon trail to the the Mesa Top Trail. I take that back across the mesa to the North Table Loop back to the parking lot. I think it’s more scene than the second half of the North Table Loop. Park map.
Details: The North Table Loop is about 7.5 miles with about 700 feet of elevation gain with all the ups and downs. Taking the Cottonwood Canyon cutoff creates a hike of about 6.1 miles with 1000 feet of elevation gain. Hiking to the viewpoint at the Golden Cliffs adds another half mile roundtrip.
Directions: The trailhead is north of Golden on State Highway 93, just north of Pine Ridge Road. Google 4758 Highway 93, Golden, Co. 80403 for directions.
In the area, don’t miss Mount Galbraith, Chimney Gulch, South Table Mountain and Apex Park. Check out more great hikes here.
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