Mary West: The Day Hiker visits Table Mountain
The Day Hiker
Plan to hike Table Mountain Preserve this spring. The only way to believe this place is real is to see it for yourself. Easter weekend is a popular time, but as long as the flowers are in bloom it’s worth the drive to Oroville in Butte County.
In 2017 I was concerned about the Table Mountain Fire the previous fall and its effects 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. 2018’s Camp Fire once again threatened but didn’t burn the preserve.
The hike is much longer for those of us who love to take pictures, as I see yet another wide swath of flowers I just have to take a picture of. Every stream bank and hill side 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 a spectacular waterfall to mark your half-way point. The vernal pools in the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve will keep you posing for selfies as you take your time walking back to your car.
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.
The website reads: “A California Department of Fish and Wildlife 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 on-line, 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 Guide. 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. West was the recipient of the 2017 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram.
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