North Table Mountain Park

I wanted to squeeze in one more hike for the day, but it was already 2pm so it had to be something close. As I sat in the parking lot looking at the mesa in front of me, I noticed a trail. That’s what I love about mountainous areas; you can usually see a road or trail from below and then find your way to it.

This one was really easy to find. It’s the North Table Mesa trail and it’s just North of Golden, Colorado on Highway 93. This isn’t your usual hiking trail that has a variety of terrain. The trail starts in the parking lot and is an ascent all the way.

It looks and feels steep while walking, but it was easily managed even with a covering of packed snow. I enjoyed the mountain bikers riding down for a bit and then turning off onto a trail that went into town.

I took a few breaks along the way and it was fun to turn around and see the view. Often when hiking, I’m so focused on what’s ahead, I forget the surrounding scenery. I don’t remember the exact distance, but it was less than a mile to the top so it doesn’t take long to walk up there.

DSC_0848sOnce at the top you can see the city of Denver to the East and Golden to the West. The top is fun because there are other trails to explore and the one above the rock climbing area is very scenic. The north side of the mountain had a herd of deer grazing and they were oblivious to all the people.

I followed the trails east for a bit and then headed back to the rock climbing area. Daylight was going fast so I didn’t want to go too far. I would love to go back early in the morning and explore the entire area. My guess is that it’d be an interesting place to watch the sunrise.

You’d see the silhouette of the city against the sunrise to the east and the mountains to the west would glow as the sun bathed them. That’s my guess anyway. I’ll put that on my ever growing list of things to do.

It was a fun short hike to end the day with ample opportunities to return and explore again.  For maps and current info:

http://jeffco.us/openspace/openspace_T56_R28.htm

White Ranch Park

Ever had the feeling that you just wanted to be outside? Doesn’t matter where, just get outside. That’s the feeling I had! It was a sunny winter day and I just wanted to go hiking, like right now.  Sure, an hour or so in the car would yield me some spectacular views, but I wasn’t up for that much windshield time.

I found the perfect place about half an hour away; White Ranch park.  It is conveniently located on the outskirts of Golden Colorado and easily accessed via North Highway 93.  Take a left at the big brown sign, head west for a couple of miles on a two lane road. The road ends in a T intersection and the park is on your right.

At first glance, the trail doesn’t appear to be that secluded. There are a couple of large homes immediately visible from the trail head. I figured if it went past the homes and up into the mountains behind, it’d be a nice hike.

Initially, the trail follows a fence, crosses a road and then enters private property. Here the trail begins to become less civilized as it meanders through boulders and under trees. To the left, there were several beautiful horses hanging out in their fenced area. They were privately owned, but I enjoy seeing animals of all types.

Past that area, the trail exits private property and takes on the rustic aspect I was looking for. Covered in a few inches of snow, the trail was still easily hike able and I encountered many people enjoying the beautiful day.  It may sound snowy and cold but it wasn’t.  The sun was out and I was plenty warm in a pair of jeans, wool socks, hiking boots, two long sleeve winter shirts, a coat and gloves.

As I made my way up the trail, a hawk silently soared overhead. I can only imagine the view he was enjoying!   The trail continued to ascend up the mountain and the further I went the more serene and scenic it became.

At one point, I found a big rock near the trail and just sat there enjoying the warm sun. All I could here was silence. Occasionally I’d hear a fellow hiker wander by or the wind blow through the trees, but more often it was just the sound of silence. If you’ve ever heard that, it’s really an odd but comforting feeling.

I made my way up the trail for about an hour or so and then decided to turn around. I could’ve hiked all day, but I was getting hungry for more than just trail mix so I turned around and enjoyed a different view. That’s the fun thing about hiking in the mountains; the views are different each direction.

Next time you’re in the Golden, Colorado area, check out this easy hike. More info is here:

http://jeffco.us/openspace/openspace_T56_R57.htm