If you’re looking for a stunning outdoor adventure in Colorado that’s a bit off the beaten path, we’ve got just the spot for you: North Table Mountain in Golden, Colorado. This mesa is a hidden gem that offers breathtaking views, challenging hikes, and unique geological formations.
Located near downtown Golden and 30 minutes from Denver, North Table Mountain is an ideal day trip for anyone looking to escape the city and soak up some natural beauty. The mesa covers over 2,000 acres and rises 200 feet above the surrounding landscape, making it a striking sight to behold.
In this blog post, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know to plan your trip to North Table Mountain. We’ll cover the best hikes and the unique features that make this mesa so special. We’ll also provide insider tips on when to visit, what to pack, and how to make the most of your time on the mesa.
Hiking North Table Mountain
Hiking North Table Mountain offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape, including the nearby mountains and valleys, and the city of Golden itself. Along the way, hikers can also see an array of wildlife such as deer, prairie dogs, and eagles, as well as colorful wildflowers and diverse plant life. The park is home to several unique geological formations, such as the Golden Cliffs, which offer a popular rock climbing destination for outdoor enthusiasts. From the top of North Table Mountain, hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area, including the Rocky Mountains, downtown Denver, and the Flatirons.
On top of the mesa is an interconnected network of hiking trails that allow you to mix and match various trails to craft your hike.
When we visited North Table Mountain Park, we hiked the Tilting Mesa to Mesa Top Loop. This hike is the perfect option if you just want a casual, fairly easy hike that won’t take all day.
Below is a summary of the most popular hiking routes on North Table Mountain. The views anywhere on the mesa are more or less the same, so we recommend choosing your hike based on how much length, elevation, and general difficulty you want to cover!
|Distance (Round Trip)
|North Table Loop Trail
|Golden Cliffs Trail
|Lichen Peak Trail
|Tilting Mesa to Mesa Top Loop
|North Table Mountain West Loop
|Tilting Mesa Double Loop
|North Table Mountain, Cottonwood Canyon, Tilting Mesa Trail
|North Table Mountain From W 53rd Street
Biking on North Table Mountain
North Table Mountain is a haven for mountain bikers of all skill levels! With its stunning natural beauty and varied terrain, North Table Mountain offers an unforgettable experience for those who love mountain biking.
North Table Mountain offers a variety of trails to suit all levels of riders. The park has over 15 miles of singletrack trails with varying degrees of difficulty, from easy, flowy trails to challenging technical trails. The trails are well-marked and easy to navigate, with plenty of opportunities to take in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
For beginners, the Rim Rock trail is a great starting point. This easy, flowy trail takes you along the top of the mesa and offers stunning views of the Front Range. Note that this trail is closed from February 1 to July 31 annually to protect raptor nesting territory. Alternatively, check out the Cottonwood Canyon trail or the North Table Loop.
Rock Climbing the Golden Cliffs
North Table Mountain park boasts the popular Golden Cliffs, which offer a variety of pre-bolted sport and top rope routes suitable for climbers of all levels. The area is well-maintained and can be enjoyed throughout most seasons.
The cliffs are composed of volcanic basalt, which provides a unique texture and gripping surface that makes for an exciting climbing experience.
Climbers should be prepared for a steep and strenuous ascent, as the routes can be challenging and require a good level of fitness and skill. However, the rewards are well worth the effort, with panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains and the city of Golden below.
Wildlife Spotting on North Table Mountain
You never know if you’ll be lucky enough to encounter some of the area’s wildlife residents during your time at North Table Mountain.
Deer are common in North Table Mountain Park and can often be spotted grazing in open areas. We saw a beautiful buck galloping across the mesa during our hike here. It was the highlight of the trek!
If you’re lucky, you may see playful prairie dogs in the park’s grasslands. They live in underground burrows and are often seen standing on their hind legs, chattering and barking.
North Table Mountain Park is also home to a variety of bird species, including the majestic eagle. These birds of prey are known for their impressive wingspan and keen eyesight, and can often be seen soaring high above the park.
Lastly, be on the lookout for rattlesnakes! Although they may not be as welcome a sight as the other animals, rattlesnakes are a natural part of the park’s ecosystem. These venomous snakes are known for the distinctive rattling sound they make when threatened, and visitors are advised to give them a wide berth and to always be aware of their surroundings.
Just remember to practice wildlife safety, keep a safe distance, and enjoy the natural beauty of these amazing creatures.
Photography at North Table Mountain
If you enjoy practicing nature photography as we do, here are some tips and ideas for photographing North Table Mountain park.
- Capture Golden Hour – The golden hour, which is the hour after sunrise and before sunset, is when the lighting is soft and warm, creating beautiful colors and shadows. Try to plan your visit to North Table Mountain during these times to capture stunning photos.
- Use a Wide-Angle Lens – North Table Mountain offers sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, making it a great opportunity to use a wide-angle lens to capture the full beauty of the scenery.
- Look for Leading Lines – The park’s trails and rock formations can create natural leading lines that draw the viewer’s eye through the photo. Use these lines to add depth and interest to your photos.
- Incorporate Wildlife – North Table Mountain is home to a variety of wildlife, from deer and eagles to prairie dogs and rattlesnakes. Incorporating these animals into your photos can add a sense of scale and context to the scenery.
- Take Care of the Environment – Remember to always practice Leave No Trace principles and to respect the park’s wildlife and natural beauty. Don’t disturb the environment or wildlife for the sake of a photo.
When to Visit North Table Mountain Park
During the winter months, North Table Mountain is covered in a blanket of snow, creating a winter wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts. The park’s trails are less crowded, and the views of snow-capped peaks in the distance are breathtaking. Winter activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular here, and visitors can also enjoy hiking on the snow-packed trails.
As the snow melts and the temperatures start to warm up in spring, North Table Mountain comes alive with new growth and blossoming wildflowers. Spring is the best time to see the park’s wildflower displays, with fields of bluebells, sunflowers, and other blooms blanketing the mesa. Visitors can also enjoy hiking, trail running, and mountain biking during this time.
Summer is the busiest season at North Table Mountain, as visitors come to enjoy the sunny weather and endless outdoor activities. Hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing are popular activities during this time, and visitors can also enjoy picnicking and birdwatching.
Fall is a beautiful time to visit North Table Mountain, as the aspen leaves turn golden and the park’s grasses take on a golden hue. The cooler temperatures and quieter trails make it a perfect time to hike, run, or bike. Visitors can also enjoy rock climbing and watching the sunset over the surrounding mountains.
What to Pack and Wear
When planning a hike to North Table Mountain in Golden, Colorado, it’s important to be prepared for a range of weather conditions and trail conditions. Here’s a list of what to wear and bring on your hike:
- Hiking boots with good traction – the trails on North Table Mountain can be steep and rocky, so it’s important to wear shoes that can provide stability and support.
- Comfortable, moisture-wicking clothing – dress in layers so you can adjust to changing temperatures throughout the day. Avoid cotton as it retains moisture and can make you feel cold and damp.
- Sun protection – wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect your skin and eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.
- Plenty of water – bring at least 2 liters of water per person, as the trails on North Table Mountain can be strenuous and dehydrating.
- Snacks and lunch – pack some energy-boosting snacks like trail mix, fruit, and protein bars, as well as a lunch if you plan on spending the day on the mesa.
- Map and compass – it’s always a good idea to bring a map and compass to ensure you stay on the right trail.
- First aid kit – pack a basic first aid kit with essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers.
- Insect repellent – the mesa is home to a variety of insects, so bring insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes and ticks.
- Rain gear – Colorado weather can be unpredictable, so bring a rain jacket or poncho just in case.
- Camera – don’t forget to bring a camera or smartphone to capture the stunning views and unique geological formations on North Table Mountain. We shoot with Sony a7iii.
Final Thoughts on North Table Mountain Park
With its sprawling mesa, stunning vistas of the Rocky Mountains, and a variety of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing, North Table Mountain Park is the perfect place to appreciate the unique geology of the Golden foothills.
If you have more time in Golden, make sure to visit Golden Gate Canyon State Park. This hidden gem offers hikers a unique and unforgettable experience, especially if you are visiting in the fall.
And while in Colorado, don’t miss Rocky Mountain National Park! It’s less than 2 hours from North Table Mountain Park!
See you out there!