South Table Mountain Park

Overview

South Table Mountain Park is less traveled than its Northern Counterpart, but don’t count it out of your Front Range Hiking experience. The park has a large variety of trails form very steep with amazing views to very flat with stunning views. While the Eastern side of the park will have the less intense hill climbs, both will offer hikers and mountain bikers a good workout. Looking out from the mesa to the east you have Denver and to the West Golden, although you will need to do some hiking to see both as only one will be in view at any given time. Those that are looking for a nice steep hill climb should visit the Western portion, that is technically not part of the park for great views of the Golden area on some very impressive rock features at the end of a couple of steep trails.

9.2 Miles of Trails

Park Details

  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Centaurs Equestrians
  • Picnicking
  • Sports field
  • Two actual parking areas
  • There is a small parking area for Golden Summit and Sleeping Elk trail not technically part of this park.
  • Porta-potti at Camp George west
  • Trails are well marked
  • No trees in this park
  • Weapons are prohibited
  • Overnight camping is not allowed
  • No entrance fees

Emergency contacts

Jefferson County Sheriff’s office @ (303) 277-0211

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map

Free downloadable maps are available from Jefferson County Parks. You can also use the GPX files to help plan your next adventure in the Rocky Mountains. 

Ancient Palms Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)6 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance1.0 Miles
Time Needed12 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Basalt Cap Loop
  • Little rocky
  • Slightly technical if riding

Trailhead: S – Tertiary | R – Basalt Cap Loop | R – Ancient Psalm trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Coors water retention ponds
  • Copious amounts of butterflies fluttering around
  • Large variety of birds

Review:

There is a small area off of Old Quarry road where this trail can also be accessed, but there is no actual parking area there and the on street parking is very limited. The trail starts off with a good increase in elevation and tapers off a bit in the middle of the trail. There are some good views of the Denver west area as you climb the side of the hill. Don’t take your eyes off the trail for too long however as this trail is rock strewn in parts and a little bit on the technical side if you are new to mountain biking. There is no tree cover in this area of the park, but there are an abundance of shrubs that house a thriving butterfly community, which turns out to be like a whole foods for birds in the area.

Basalt Cap Loop Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)3 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)6
Distance2.0 Miles
Time Needed38 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Tertiary, Cretaceous, Old Quarry, Ancient Psalms
  • Lots of birds
  • Can be very windy

Trailhead: S- Tertiary trail | R or L on Basalt Cap Loop

Trail Highlights:

  • Great Views of Denver

Review:

While there is a little workout to get to this trail the path itself is a nice easy stroll, just not through the woods as there are no trees on the mesa. The abundance of flat rocks at the top make perfect bowles that collect water and an abundance of birds in the area. If you are hiking the area during the spring, summer or fall there is a good chance you will encounter a rattlesnake sunning itself, remember to be alert and give them space. At certain times of day you may also see police racing around on the training track located at the south west side of the trail.

Cretaceous Trail

Trail leading up the side of South Table Mesa
Trail leading up the side of South Table Mesa
Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)4
Distance0.5 Miles
Time Needed11 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Tertiary Trail, Basalt Cap Loop
  • No trees
  • Dirt trail not too rocky

Trailhead: S – Tertiary | L – Cretaceous Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Lots of birds in the area

Review:

Decent elevation gain but not too steep. There is no reprieve from the sun on this trail, and wind is usually not a concern as the trail runs along the south side of the mesa. The views are not that great on the trail, but the others in the park that this trail leads to extend much better scenery. If you are riding and looking for a less technical climb this is the trail for you.

Note: If you are using the Jefferson county parks map the milage is longer than the trail actually is. My assumption is that the extra mileage from Tertiary trail from the road up to the junction was added to Cretaceous trail rather than Tertiary trail.

Fossil Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance0.8 Miles
Time Needed16 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Old Quarry
  • Parking area at trailhead

Trailhead: S – Fossil trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Golden

Review:

Easy trail that leads down to a small parking area with tall grasses flanking both sides of the trail. There are a lot of birds all over the area singing in the swaying grass. The views are not great on the trail, and there is no tree cover to speak of like the other trails in the park so plan appropriately when visiting this area.

Old Quarry Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)7
Distance2.4 Miles
Time Needed45 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails:Fossil trail
  • Wide dirt road
  • No trees
  • Mostly flat

Trailhead: S – Fossil | R- Old Quarry trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Denver
  • Views of Golden

Review:

This trail is more like a dirt access road than an actual trail. The path is nice and wide to its easy to pass in both directions of travel. If you continue to follow the trail iw will lead to the cliff overlook and two trails that are not part of the Jefferson County parks department. I highly suggest that if this trail if on your list that you follow it out to the end and the views from the rock precipest are the best in the area. There is private property at the top of the mesa so stay on the trail, besides you don’t want to startly mister rattlesnake in the high grass off the trail looking for lunch no do you.

Camp George Parking to Trail System

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)2 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance0.5 Miles
Time Needed7 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Tertiary Trail
  • Flat trail
  • Skirts sports field
  • Runs along Denver West Parkway

Trailhead: S – Camp George west parking

Trail Highlights:

  • Camp George West sports fields

Review:

This trail starts at one of the two designated parking area for the park. The trail is very flat and skirts a sports field before running along Denver West parkway. There is not much to look at along the way and it can be a bit loud with the traffic, but the parking lot offers plenty of parking spaces and an outhouse restroom to take care of business before hitting the trail.

Tertiary Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)6 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance0.7 Miles
Time Needed16 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails:

Trailhead: S | Camp George Parking Lot trail to Park | C – Tertiary Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Denver
  • Decent hill climb

Review:

Tertiary is the more technical of the trails that lead to the summit of the mesa, and while there are a few trees here and there, most of the trail is exposed along the southeast side of the mesa. There are a good many rocks along the trail and some steep climbs in places, but overall the trail is rideable if you are of moderate skill on a mountain bike and in decent shape.

Golden Summit Trail

Difficulty Rank (1-10)7 (Hard)
Views Rank (1-10)6
Distance0.7 Miles
Time Needed30 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: South Table Top Mesa Trail, Sleeping Elk Trail
  • Steep trail

Trailhead:S – Small 2 car parking area of Belvedere Street and 19th St.

Trail Highlights:

  • Great view of the rock ledges
  • Great workout

Review:

Golden summit trail starts at a large steel gate on Belvedere St. The switchbacks are well traveled and easy to follow, however, there are no trees shading this trek, and high winds are likely. Once you reach the top you will travel through a opening in the top of the mesa and be offered several different trail options. Some lead out to the cliff ledges, while a couple trails lead to radio towers and private property. If you head left and follow the labyrinth of small trails you will gain the foot of the largest rock outcropping on the mesa in the northwestern area of the park. There is a set of concrete steps that have seen some weather over the years leading up to some of the best views in the area. The South Table Top Mesa trail is unmarked here but leads into the actual park.

Flat top of the South Table Mesa looking down on Golden Colorado
Flat top of the South Table Mesa

Sleeping  Elk Trail

View of South Table Mesa
View of South Table Mesa
Difficulty Rank (1-10)7 (Hard)
Views Rank (1-10)6
Distance0.6 Miles
Time Needed26 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Golden Summit Trail

Trailhead: S – Small break between houses off of Belvedere St. on the Northeast side of the road.

Trail Highlights:

  • Great views of the mesa
  • Great workout

Review:

Much like the Golden Summit trail the Sleeping elk trail is devoid of trees, but thick with bushes. Both trails rank about the same for steepness and most people hiking the area will take one trail up and the other down. One thing to note on this trail is that near the summit of the mesa there is an area where you will need the use of your hands to scamper over a rock ledge that is about 4 feet tall, nothing too serious, but if you have mobility or stability issues I would avoid this trail.