Monday, September 10, 2012

The Table Mountains of Golden: A Wonderful Example of Open Space Parks

For many reasons Golden Colorado has become my favorite city to visit (with regrets to Flagstaff, Arizona).  Golden is probably best known as home to the Coors Brewing Company and the Colorado School of Mines.  It is also the I-70 portal for eastern access to several popular Rocky Mountain destinations.  None of these reasons made my favorite city checklist.  (But I will share that if I were 18 years old and wealthy, I’d definitely be applying to the Colorado School of Mines)

The key reason Golden is my new favorite city to visit is its location within Jefferson County.  Jefferson County has earned serious bragging rights for its “Open Space” program.  This program boasts a series of 28 parks and properties, spread over 52,000 acres, with 210 miles of trails—and many of these trailheads are within the Golden city limits. 

The Open Space program began in 1972 with the vision, energy and support of the good people of Jefferson County.  Voters approved a one-half percent sales tax to preserve open space lands, as well as to maintain the health of natural and cultural resources.  These parks may be considered nationally renowned gems by those in the know, but this Texan was unaware of their existence until arriving and driving around Golden.  (I encourage a look at the Jefferson County website: to learn more about this wonderful Open Space program.  The website provides detailed park and trail guides.  Or if visiting Golden, definitely stop by the Visitor’s Center to pick up a brochure.  The city’s Bird List brochure pointed the rick-man and me to several trailheads.)

Two of the Open Space parks within the Golden city limits are North Table Mountain and South Table Mountain.  Both of these parks can be accessed via parking lots within neighborhoods.  An important note for my family and friends that are dog owners, both of these park’s trail systems allow dogs on leash with the understanding, of course, that “pick up the poop” rules are followed.
Pictures describe better than words, so...

Walking the outer loop trail of South Table Mountain; the Coors plant and ponds are in the background:


Birding South Table Mountain; Rock Wrens were in abundance:

My favorite “city hike” was North Table Mountain.  This photo was taken from the trail that leads to the table “top”.  Note the trusty Suburban parked at the bottom of the photo, in the neighborhood trailhead parking lot: 


Once “up top” you would never know that the city of Golden surrounds this table mountain:

And even with a mid-day hike, the birding was wonderful.  A loose flock of Vesper Sparrows and Brewer’s Sparrows gave great sightings.  Sighting a beautiful Horned Lark was icing on the cake:

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