Finally Made it to North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve! I have been wanting to go here for a year now, mostly to catch the wildflowers, but every time I looked at the weather it was 90 degrees, even this week in Mid May the window was small, it was 75 today, but projected to be 86 tomorrow and even hotter the rest of the week. A lot of the space is in direct sunlight, though you can find some shady trees here and there, and the section that we didn’t make it to looked to be all forested.
North Table Mountain is in Northern California right outside of Oroville, and there is plenty of hiking and camping for you and your dog in the area. I know that I plan to go back and do Feather Falls, and camp at Lake Oroville SRA, maybe the Feather Falls Campground if someone can convince me that it is not too sketchy:) A Free campground at a popular trail head, makes me nervous about people walking through my camp all day and night.
North Table Mountain is a gorgeous leash only place to hike with your dog, though as you pull into the parking lot you might not realize it at first as you look across what appears to be a flat land with some fields. Twenty feet in, you will see your first blankets of wildflowers, and if you meander to the left on what appears to be a well worn path running along a tiny stream, you will see more wildflowers lining the stream.
There are no formal marked trails here, but you can tell where people mostly walk, and follow those paths, or make one of your own, just keep the Mighty Oak at the parking lot as your marker for how to get back.
Even though we went late in the wildflower season, and the grass was browning, we still saw many different teeny tiny wildflowers here. It’s hard to capture how beautiful they look, as well as how stunning the small pockets of streams and ponds flowing over ancient basalt lava are.
Cows graze here, and I could smell them and Chico was tempted by their tasty cow patties, but we never saw them.
The terrain can be tricky to walk on, while much of it is normal dirt paths, the paths have sections of that lava rock that can be loose, or sections of just loose softball sized rocks. I would recommend proper shoes here, not flip flops, especially if you want to hike to the waterfalls.
I think that there are 5 or 6 waterfalls here, mostly only flowing in winter and spring. I have read of a 6 mile loop to see all of them, but, I haven’t found a good map that I can understand yet:) I need to take a map class still. Here is one from the Chico Hiking Assoication called The Phantom Falls Cross Country Loop. I also heard that there is a waterfall tour here on the weekends, but there was no mention of it on the North Table Mountain site as of this writing, so maybe a thing of the past.
So those waterfalls…After entering the park we took that left trail along the stream, and got to the only trail marker we saw in the whole park, and that trail was along the edge of a cliff, and I knew it went down to one of the falls–however my fear of heights really kicked in. This trail looked to be 10 inches wide and right on the edge of the cliff, for only like 20 feet, but it was all that loose rock stuff–I’m such a wimp. I’ll go back though when I have my trekking poles with me. I thought it was funny when the sign near the entrance said stay away from unstable cliffs as the land looked all flat, jokes on me! But really, I was surprised how steep those cliffs were.
We went on a weekday and got there at 1, and there were just a few cars in the parking lot, but, on our way back we passed a few groups of people and the lot was half full when we returned. I’m guessing weekends are packed.
There are porta potties in the parking lot, online it says that they are there wildflower season only, I don’t know how accurate this info is, but, be prepared. They were clean too! There are no trash cans, so you’ll need to pack your stuff out. Also you need to buy a lands day pass online.
I’ll post the rest of the photos below, and hopefully get around to all the National Parks that we have camped at in the past year! You can camp at most National Parks with your dog, though most you can’t go on trails…but they all have these different little rules that you can work with…like Yosemite : Paved Surfaces Only–the whole valley floor has sidewalks and paved trails ( plus there are other trails you can take your dog, they have a hand out). Yellowstone : developed areas and must stay within 100 feet of the parking lots, campgrounds, and the road…Old Faithful is a developed area with a nice shady spot behind the bleachers that people sit with their dogs, and within 100 feet of roads is a lot of leeway, especially since the roads run along rivers. Death Valley National Park–allowed on any dirt road–the whole park is hundreds of miles of dirt roads that often run parallel to popular trails, or great jeep roads like Titus Canyon.