Monday, May 22, 2017

North Table Mountain Trail and Park, Golden, Colorado


When I learned North Table Mountain, in Golden Colorado, had trails leading to its top, I became somewhat obsessed with the desire to hike up it one day to see the views from the top. We drove by it often, on our way to visit family, and it looked like a challenge I wanted to try.  
(All photos will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on)


North Table Mountain is actually a mesa, formed about 60 million years ago by lava flows. At the 6,555 feet (1,998 m) summit of the mesa is North Table Mountain Park.  The park is rimmed with fifteen miles of trails and is home to prairie dogs, deer, golden eagles and red tailed hawks that nest in the cliffs, and rattlesnakes.


My husband and I parked our car in a lot at the base of the west side of the mesa, on State Highway 93, just north of Pine Ridge Road.


The trail up is  a wide gravel path and is about a mile long.


It is hard to judge from my photos, but it is a very steep trail--almost straight up in climb.


I had to take it slow and rest often to slow my pounding heart, as the 400 foot elevation ascent was a challenge for me, but those who were younger, and obviously in better shape, were able to run, bike and climb without resting too often.


Stopping along the way enabled me to take some photos of the volcanic rock formations and to look for nesting raptors.


The south portion of the mesa had particularly prominent cliffs.


The last few hundred feet were ahead to the summit....


...and then a look back at where we climbed from the bottom when we reached the top! I made it and was happy to finally be on flat ground again.

Unfortunately, clouds were quickly gathering and we could see the weather was going to change, but we hoped to see as much as we could on the summit before that happened.


It was exciting to be on the top of a mesa and the shear size of it became apparent right away. We saw trail markers and had to decide which way we would hike.


We decided to hike the Lichen Peak Trail, a narrow "hikers only" trail that traverses through "Lichen Peak Garden," which is a hardscrabble area composed of many basalt rock covered with various forms and colors of lichen.  Lichen are formed by a symbiotic relationship between single cell algae and fungus.  The end of Lichen Peak Trail is the highest point on the mesa, at 6,575 feet (2004 m), and offers a panoramic view.

Please click on to enlarge.

Lichen can survive in some of the most barren and severe regions on earth, but they are also susceptible to destruction if trampled on, so we stayed on the trail to admire it. We were surprised to see some early wildflowers blooming in April, when we made this walk.



There was a fascinating array of different colors of lichen growing on these rocks!  Lichen grows at the slow rate of 1mm. per year, so a quarter size patch could be as much as 25 years old.


The views from the end of the Lichen Trail, which ends in a slight promontory, are amazing! this is the view south.


Facing east we could see the city of Denver, resting a mile high on the distant plains.


Facing  south west we saw residential areas of Golden, snugged up against the foothills...


.... and facing north we saw antenna towers dotting the mesa top.  Look closely under the lone tree, by clicking on the photo to enlarge it, to see deer resting in the grasses.


 We walked back along the Lichen Trail to return towards the North Quarry climbing area .


We walked up the stone steps to the top of the North Quarry part of the mesa.



Looking back from this point one can look down on the trail that leads up from the parking lot at the bottom, and it gives a good perspective of the steepness of the climb.




Walking south towards the end of the mesa...


 ...where we came upon the "Sea Cliffs" a shiny gorge of basalt rock


Another view looking down at the gorge.


We reached the end of this part of the mesa, and I could look down on some of the town of Golden.  Notice the "M" near the top of distant Mount Zion? That is a symbol for the Colorado School of Mines University--a highly rated engineering university located in Golden. I blogged about their Geological Museum on this post.



As we walked back towards the trail heard we could see rain and virga--rain that evaporates before hitting the ground-- on the horizon, and approaching fast, so we picked up the pace...


...and in a fine mist we walked back down North Table Mountain.


Driving away towards home, I took one last look back and one last photo--amazed that I could finally say that I made it to the top of North Table Mountain!  

I might never have the chance or ability to walk up a 14er, as the natives call Colorado's fifty eight 14,000 plus foot mountain peaks, but any challenge is a good one, don't you think? I know I'll return to hike more of North Table Mountain one day in the future.

 I'm linking this post to the following blog events:



Thank you to all the blog hosts!

Bookmark and Share

36 comments:

Tom said...

...spectacular views, but where is the green? Sunshine and dry weather and green just don't go together. Thanks for stopping by, please come again.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat, you have me thinking of the song with the words Rocky Mountain climbing. The views are fabulous.I like the lichen too, I prefer tails that are for hikers only. Wonderful photos and post.

Happy Monday, enjoy your new week ahead!

Maggie said...

Kudos to you, Pat, that was one challenging hike! Stunning scenery, quite bleak but still fascinating. Interesting to see Denver in the distance and the residential area of Golden, I bet they get snowed in a lot!
Happy Mosaic Monday.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Wow! Congratulations to you both...I am mightily impressed. And your pictures and the views are amazing!! Beautiful Colorado.

I always take a lot of pictures when I walk with my Colorado daughter-in-law ... it is such a good excuse to stop and catch my breath without feeling like a complete wimp! But she knows better than to take me on a hike like this one you two did! The Boulder and Loveland area trails she and I have walked are nothing like that -- they are just little neighborhood walks for her (she has climbed some of those 14s) but for me, unused to the altitude, even slight changes in elevation make a walk a major hike!

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

I graduated from high school in Denver about a gazillion years ago, so it was good to see your shot of the Mile High City. Thanks for linking to Blue Monday!

Gillena Cox said...

Thanks for sharing. Happy Mosaic Monday

much love...

Al said...

That looks like a fun hike - nice shots.

Lowcarb team member said...

Wow!
So well done, you are going to have many fantastic memories.
The views are just spectacular.

All the best Jan

Ruth Hiebert said...

Wow! That hike sounds strenuous but the views are amazing from the top.I think my old knees would protest too much to do a hike like that.

NC Sue said...

We passed the Table Mountains but weren't hardy enough to make the trek to the top! Well done!
Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-beautiful-city-of-jaffa.html

Jim said...

Great shots.
Sydney – City and Suburbs

Linda W. said...

Those grand views are your reward for a tough hike to the top! And I've heard of Colorado School of Mines - I graduated from South Dakota School of Mines, so they were kind of our rival.

Karen said...

Gorgeous scenery!

jeannettestgermain said...

The landscape of this hike is very different from what you have shown up till now about Colorado - thanks for the info about the lichen , and I love the South view on the trail. And wow, the bazalt rock looks beautiful! Do they still mine bazalt rock?
Thank you so much for sharing this very interesting post with All Seasons, Pat and have a great week!

Wandering Wren said...

What a fabulous, fabulous hike. I'm taking a huge lungful of your beautiful fresh air and my those beautiful deep blue skies!
Have a happy week
Wren x

Tanna said...

You go, girl!!! Wonderful hike! Well done! Enjoyed the lichen and learning about virga!! Who knew? Thanks for the wonderful adventure, Pat. And, your Mother's/Father's Day celebration sounds great! blessings ~ tanna

Cheryl @ TFD said...

You are amazing, Pat! I couldn't do all the hiking that you do, I just don't have the ankles or the stamina for it, but if I did...the fear of rattlesnakes would keep me home! lol! Love the landscape there, the views are fabulous!
Have a wonderful week!
x Cheryl

Frank Boxell said...

That was a good workout. Fabulous scenery and views of the geology.

Lorrie said...

What a hike! You must have felt great once you reached the top and caught your breath. Fantastic views in all directions.

Snap said...

I'm really enjoying your adventures in Colorado!

Clearissa Coward said...

Beautiful photos! Must have been a wonderful experience.

carol l mckenna said...

Another wonderful experience for you both and lovely photography to see ~ thanks,


Happy Week ahead to you

Photo(Geo)grapher said...

Gorgeous scenery! Beautiful photos as well

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Brava to you Pat, for making that steep climb. As I get older, those kinds of hikes are getting harder and I'm getting slower with lots of stops on the way up. But hey, it's nice to stop and smell the roses too!

Daniela said...

I'm feeling amazed more and more at your gorgeous, stunning shots, darling Pat, I'm so grateful to you for sharing such wonders !

Hope you're enjoying a great week so far,
I'm sending blessings to you,
with sincere thankfulness

XOXO Dany

Latane Barton said...

I am so proud of you and so happy you shared that experience with us. It was an amazing journey and you got lots of great pictures.

Rambling Woods said...

So much of the planet's history just there for the enjoyment and study. I had no idea that lichen could live that long...I have to read up on them...Michelle

Louca por porcelana said...

Beautiful landscape!Great adventure!

Spare Parts and Pics said...

Beautiful photos, and kudos to you! 400' elevation climb at nearly 7000' elevation is a big deal!!

Jann Olson said...

I know I'm not nearly as fast of a climber as I use to be. It's still worth the effort to see such gorgeous scenery! I have always loved lichen, and enjoy finding it while hiking. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
hugs,
Jann

Lady Fi said...

Gorgeous scenery!

Pat Tillett said...

What a beautiful place. Your photos are fantastic.
I hope to see it in person one of these days...

handmade by amalia said...

This looks like hard work and well worth it. When I am out of breath I am very glad that I simply have to stop to take a photo :-)
Amalia
xo

Mary K.- The Boondocks Blog said...

Pat it is so beautiful! Your photos make me wish that I could almost live there. I love mountains but I have to be near water or else I get claustrophobic. Does that even make sense?Gorgeous photos. Thank you once again for taking us on a magical journey.

Thomas Lee said...

Amazing view from up there,the city looks so tiny

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

It is nice that the weather held out for you so that you could make your challenging hike. Congratulations!