South Table Mountain – Golden

Distance5.32 mi
Elevation Gain735 ft
My Time2 hr 6 min
DifficultyModerater
Closest TownGolden
Food NearbyTable Mtn Inn

South Table Mountain

On all of my trips to Golden I saw the South Table Mountain towering over the town like a silent guardian. I never thought that I would go to the top of it…or that it wouldn’t be that hard!

Getting Started

The hike that I did to the top of South Table Mountain starts at the Sleeping Elk Trailhead. There are actually two trailheads about a block apart, the South Table Mountain trailhead is the other. I took Sleeping Elk up and the other one down. The trail seemed very popular among runners, dog walkers and hikers.

Sleeping Elk Trail

The Sleeping Elk trail was a little more challenging than the South Table Trail option. The trail itself was a little more narrow and a touch steeper and the switchbacks were also much tighter. As you ascend this section the views are pretty spectacular though.

The view of the South Table from the Sleeping Elk Trail

Over half of your elevation gain will happen on this stretch of trail as well. You will gain over 400 feet of elevation in just over a half mile. The grades are in the high teens to low twenty percent range throughout the switchbacks. The most challenging part is actually making it to the top of the mesa. Here you will have to ascend a steepish rockface. When I was there the wind was howling off the top adding to a challenge on this final portion.

Some of the rocky terrain at the top of the mesa

The South Table Mountain

When you reach the top of the mesa it is pretty obvious which direction you want to head. The Table will be directly ahead of you and not too far away. There are several trails around the scrub brush around the top so try to stay on trail as you head towards the peak.

You know you will be in the right spot when you see the staircase to get you to the top.

Concrete steps leading to the top of South Table Mountain

The top of the table is actually pretty large and flat. There is plenty of room to spend some time up there if desired. The surrounding views are also really special. You can see all of Golden as well as a large portion of the front range.

The Mesa

I am not sure what I thought I would find at the top of the mesa. Space Station? Starbucks? Well its basically a big flat dry field with power lines strung across it. Kind of anticlimactic. What was nice was that there were some long trails that were in good shape and a bunch of people.

Be careful, some of the trails are closed at times and some are private for some reason. The signage isn’t very good to let you know where you can and can not go (only facing one direction, partially covered) so it can be easy to get in the wrong spot.

The view from the top of the mesa.

South Table Mountain Trail

My return was on South Table Trail and it was a lot more developed than the Sleeping Elk trail. This trail was wide with longer switchbacks that weren’t as sharp. The grade was also a lot less steep, staying in the mid teen’s.

It was more crowded on this side of the trail so that is something to keep in mind as you are picking which way to go. Hopefully you can enjoy the hike as much as I did!

Elevation and Distance

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 5.32 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 735 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 6,333 feet. I was also moving for a total of 2 hours and 06 minutes.

Effort

Most of the really challenging portion of the hike is going to be right at the start. You have a pretty steep climb up the hill but the top of the hill is mostly flat after that and the hike turns into more of a walk. Here is the step count from my Fitbit.

The step count from the hike to South Table mountain was 13,425 steps

Terrain

The trail is a mostly hard packed dirt, well defined trail on your way up the mesa. On the top near table mountain the trails get a little hard to find but you should be able to find your way. I would suggest hiking shoes.

Access

There are two trailheads about a block apart from each other on Belvedere St in a neighborhood in Golden. Neither trailhead has parking or restroom facilities. Street parking is available. Please be respectful to neighbors and follow all parking rules.

Wrap Up

This was another one of those “Wow” moment hikes for me. Golden was one of the first places I visited when I moved from the flat Midwest. These table mountains seemed so big back then. In my later trips to Golden I started to think that maybe it was possible.

I am glad I finally tried it and was even happier when I realized it wasn’t nearly as challenging as it looked from the ground. It was definitely an accomplishment to make it to the top and enjoy the views and I can’t wait to come back to Golden and look up to see what I have been able to do.

I have added this hike and all of my hikes to my interactive map page you can find here. If you have a suggestion or comment feel free to email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com. You can also follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

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