Mary West: Table Mountain in the spring
Plan to hike Table Mountain Preserve this spring. The only way to believe this place is for real is to see it. Easter weekend is a popular time. But as long as the flowers bloom it is worth the drive to Oroville in Butte County.
In 2017 I was concerned about the Table Mountain Fire the previous fall and its effect on the landscape. My fears were quickly put to rest when setting out on this 5-mile out and back hike. If anything, the flowers grew in greater profusion than in previous years. The waterfall flowed from recent rains and the scent in the air was pure perfume.
The 2018 Camp Fire once again threatened but didn’t burn the preserve. The hike is much longer for me as I see yet another wide swath of flowers and I just have to take a picture of each. Every stream and hill are blanketed in poppies, lupines, paintbrush and a dozen other flowers. The green grass is a perfect contrast to the quilt of colors spreading for acres in all directions. Then there are the waterfalls.
The brittle basalt that forms the mesa that is Table Mountain has eroded to provide spectacular waterfalls to amaze you still more. On the stroll back, enjoy the vernal pools in the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve as you take your time walking back to your car.
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A pass is required to enter the preserve according to the Fish and Wildlife website. Get it before you go. Cell reception is spotty once there.
“A CDFW Lands Pass must be carried by each visitor who is 16 years of age or older, however, visitors who are carrying a valid California hunting or fishing license in their name are exempt from this requirement. Lands passes may be purchased online, by phone at 800-565-1458, or in-person at locations wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Lands passes cannot be substituted for Wildlife Area Hunting Passes, which are required for adult hunters on Type-A and Type-B wildlife areas”.
To get there take Highway 20 west toward Marysville. Turn on Woodruff Lane and follow it to Hwy 70 north. Turn right onto Hwy 70. Take the Grand Ave exit toward Nelson Ave. Right on Nelson to the round-a-bout. Take the Cherokee Road exit. Stay on Cherokee to the Preserve on your left.
Mary West is author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guides. The books are a collection of the Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, and favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond (Available on Amazon). West was the recipient of the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Newspaper Column by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram.
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