South Table Mountain Hike, Golden, CO
Date Hiked: January 28, 2018
Length: 9.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1023 ft
Starting Elevation: 5800 ft
Distance from Denver: 25 min
Sarah’s Ranking: 7/10
Total Hike Time: 2-3 Hours
Parking: free, small lot (4-5 cars)
Best Time: Sunny Day, Anytime
Features: Views of Golden
Additional Information: All Trails
About the Area:
Golden, CO is known to be a hub for beer drinkers (Coors Brewery), college students (Colorado School of Mines), and outdoor enthusiasts. There are countless hikes and outdoor activities nearby including Red Rocks, Dinosaur Ridge, Lookout Mountain, North Table Mountain, South Table Mountian, and much much more. The views from all of these hikes are different in their own way and people come from miles around to just get a glimpse.
South Table Mountain itself is quite the hike! In my opinion, the best short hike near Denver. It is simple, easy, and has countless trails throughout the entire area. It is easily accessible and contains well-maintained trails. Most of all, these trails are not just used for hiking, but many people go to South Table to trail run, mountain bike, and rock climb.
The trail itself begins with a steep but short climb up to a beautiful view at the top of the mesa. Once you are at the top, the endless trails are on flat terrain which allows for a multitude of activities. This is a great trail for people who are training for marathons or longer hikes. Furthermore, many of the trails on the top loop around, allowing for anyone to customize their hiking length.
How to Get There:
There are numerous trailheads, the one we used is located here. From downtown, take US-6 West/6th Avenue to Golden, CO. Next, take the exit for 19th Street (Colorado School of Mines Exit). Then, take a right off of the highway, continue straight through the traffic circle and through town. The trailhead (and small parking area) is where 19th Street ends. This is a residential area so be courteous.
- Day Backpack
- Hiking Boots
- The Ten Essentials
We wanted to find a quick and easy hike near Denver, and this hike did not disappoint. We had an amazing time on these trails! For a winter day, the weather was fantastic. High 50’s, sunny, and no wind. We went up the northern trail (Sleeping Elk Trail) and made the quick climb in about ten minutes. There were only about 5-6 people on this side and the views were just fantastic!
The beautiful South Table Mesa was on our side of the loop so we headed up there first. To get to the mesa, there is a random concrete stairway. I would love to find the history behind it! The mesa itself is worth the hike. From here, you can see the entire town of Golden and surrounding hills.
Next, we headed to the main portion of the trails. These are located to the east of the mesa. Many people were trail running up here in groups. We followed the main Sleeping Elk Trail for about three miles then looped around towards the southern end of South Table Mountain. Up here, we found many animal tracks but no animals. We also came across a random, blank billboard, a small shipping container, and many more great views, including one of Denver’s skyline.
On the way back, we decided to take the Golden Summit Trail down. It was incredibly muddy and had many switchbacks. All the more fun! But before we reached the car, we tried our hand at geocaching but had no luck. We plan on coming back for mountain biking here in the spring! So far, this is our favorite hike near Denver and among our favorite hikes in Colorado.
South Table Mountain is among the best hikes in Golden, CO. Short, easy, and amazing views!Click To Tweet
- Arrive early to ensure a parking spot.
- If you plan to bring the family, use the Sleepy Elk Trail on the way down. This trail is a bit safer at the top and is less muddy in the winter months.
- Please please please be aware of your surroundings. Rattlesnakes are well known to be prevalent in this area and a few sad accidents have happened here. Never hike on this trail alone. If you do, do not listen to headphones and make sure you always have a cellphone. Also, bringing a bite kit might be a good idea.
Need another hiking idea? Check out our hike on Dinosaur Ridge just 5 minutes away!