Hiking in Golden, CO: Golden Cliffs Preserve at North Table Mountain

Hikers accessing the trails at North Table Mountain from the main trailhead on Highway 93 might be surprised to find out hundreds of climbers are just under the cliffs on the south side of the plateau.

The popular climbing area is in a 29-acre area called the Golden Cliffs Preserve. There are two ways to access the preserve, from the trails at the top of the mesa or the parking lot at the preserve.

From the preserve’s parking lot (directions below) it’s a steep half-mile climb to the top of the mesa. The hike starts at a bulletin board decorated with colorful tiles. The trail winds through a small grove of trees, then the steep climb begins with just one shady spot ahead.

About a tenth of a mile from the trailhead, another trail comes in from the left. That’s the trail from the upper parking lot, turn right and keep going up. A sign here tells hikers you’re entering the Golden Cliffs Preserve and assume all risk of injury or death from your visit. (Yikes!) [Read here how to hike safely]

The trail here is very rocky and wide enough for single file hiking. About 0.25 miles from the trailhead, there’s a single bench under a tree if you’d like to sit and enjoy the view. Otherwise, keep hiking up.

The trail can be difficult to follow in spots, but just watch carefully and you’ll see how it winds up the mountain.

About 0.4 miles up the trail, you’ll find yourself arriving at the bottom of the cliffs. Here you should start seeing the roped climbers working their way up the rocks.

After watching the climbers, look for a trail going to the right. There are several social trails in this area, but you should be able to find a trail that goes to the right a few hundred steps, then turns up the mountain. To get to the top, you will need to do some scrambling, but you don’t need ropes if you find the right spot.

At the top, follow the single track trail north and west to the main trails on the mesa top. Read about the North Table Mountain Loop trail and the Rim Rock Loop trail.

Details: The hike to the top of the mesa is about a half mile with about 500 feet of elevation gain. On the top, you can add as many or few miles as you want.

Directions: The Golden Cliffs Preserve parking lot and trailhead is in a neighborhood, so it can be a bit confusing to get there.

  • From Highway 58 in Golden, exit Washington Street and go north.
  • Take the second right on 5th Street.
  • Go two blocks and turn right on Ford Street. Turn left at 7th Place.
  • Turn left on Boyd Street.
  • Boyd Street goes up a hill and curves right becoming Plateau Parkway.
  • Take your first left onto Peery Parkway and follow it to the dead end and the sign for the Golden Cliffs Preserve.
  • Take this dirt road to the parking lot.