When you first see
and the surrounding desert from a distance, you might be deceived
into thinking that this will be a boring hike. However within the last couple
of miles, before approaching the trailhead parking area, you may be pleasantly
surprised by the quantity of desert flora and the comforting feeling of the
nearby mountains, especially the ones covered with black lava rock.
As Rodney, Mike and I stood near the
and looked toward Table Top Mountain, we thought that this would be about a
"difficulty 3" hike. Well, we misread this one! We later encountered two bikers
who had early on abandoned their
decided to proceed on foot. However, they made it only half way up the face of
the mountain before calling it quits.
This challenging day hike began deceptively on level but
. The lack of the usual clutter of undergrowth helped to showcase
the many saguaros, chain-fruit Cholla and even the lovely
. Ahead of us, framing the trail and our ultimate destination stood
two large hills that resembled sentinels guarding the trail. This photo was
taken half-way through the hike
toward the trailhead
was very striking due to the dark canvas of lava rock which forms
the backdrop for the saguaros, Cholla, and Palo Verde trees.
The most difficult obstacle you will face, this early in the hike, is just over
a half mile in where you will be expected to write your name in the
That's pretty easy... isn't it? Good'as they say, "it's all uphill from here"!!
The trail soon gives way to a series of gradual slopes that become increasingly
Keep an eye out for these types of rock: lava, banded gneiss, and a multitude
of white quartz with some rosy, orange, and purple quartz thrown in once in
awhile for contrast.
You will soon begin to ascend a ridgeline toward the mountain. The closer we
hiked to the base of Table Top Mountain the higher it seemed to rise from the
desert floor, taunting us, and daring us to make it to the top if we could. As
we looked up, we
could not make
out any visible trails
whatsoever (only a couple of washes). But the
definitely there unfolding several feet at a time in front of us
! At 1 3/4
miles in, we crossed the Vekol Wash. We looked down the wash to the right and
only sizeable wildlife we were to see from the trail
. She resembled a panda
and was "udderly" beautiful.
The trail follows a relatively straight ridge and then starts to climb through
several rocky switchbacks before dropping into the
On the other side, the climb to the top begins in earnest through
than any of us would like to imagine. Along these, you will
find some beautiful large rocks with
. Fantastic! Sometimes the rocks that comprise the trail seem
cemented together, at other times dangerous
, but usually
just lots of
. This was where
described his descent of the mountain as "Scree Surfing".
As you ascend the mountainside, you will find a
field of lava
, approximately 25 feet wide and 100 feet long. Near the lava field,
two or three
(about 3 to 4 feet high) had been constructed of lava and other rock.
The purpose of these walls was unclear. Plant life seen in this area are aloe,
some additional types of
were not seen in the lower elevations.
Upon attaining the summit of the mountain, we saw the
signifying the end of the trail. We were rather dismayed that
there was no cowboy steak dinner or at least a pizza awaiting our arrival. We
did, however, find a couple of lava seats to go with the "table". Nearby we
found most of a bovine scull and two jawbones that still had some teeth
attached. Guess someone or something else beat us to the meal we thought we so
The views from on top are really awesome. We could see South Mountain, the
Estrellas, Eagletail Mountains, the Barry M. Goldwater Airforce Range, Vekol
Mountains, Picacho Peak, Mount Lemon, Lake Saint Clair, Casa Grande, I-8, and
I-10. The day we chose to hike turned out to be pretty hazy, so if you know how
to pick a day that won't be, then go for it and add your pictures to the site. - Nov 12 2001 annette BLM Division Reports
Trail, in the 34,400-acre Table Top Wilderness, takes visitors from the floor of Vekol Valley
(elevation 2,299 feet) to the summit of Table Top Mountain
(elevation 4,356 feet) in just 3.5 miles. Along the way,
visitors are treated to a variety of Sonoran Desert plants and
wildlife, scenic vistas, and evidence of the area's volcanic
history. The view from atop the summit is a dramatic panorama of
rugged mountain ranges and desert plains.
The tail begins by crossing several small washes and bajadas
(desert outwash plains), and winds northeasterly toward Table Top
Mountain through forests of saguaro, cholla, prickly pear,
paloverde, and ironwood. At the base of the mountain, the trail
begins a series of switchbacks on its steep ascent to the summit.
Near the summit the trail is bordered by four-foot-tall walls of
loosely piled stones, the origin and purpose form which are
unknown. Vegetation on the summit includes an unusual 40-acre
island of desert grassland.
ACCESS: Exit Interstate 8 at the Vekol Valley
Interchange (Exit 144) approximately 26 miles east of Gila Bend
and 34 miles west of Casa Grande. Travel south on Vekol
Valley Road 2.1 miles to the Vekol Ranch turnoff and continue
south on the dirt- surfaced road to the right, using the
schematic map below. It is 15.3 miles from I-8 to Table Top
FACILITIES: Table Top Trailhead includes a small,
three-site campground with picnic tables, fire-rings, a vault
toilet, and day-use parking for approximately 10 vehicles. No
water or trash collection is provided.
MAPS: Table Top Trail is depicted on the USGS
7.5-minute topographic map entitled "Little Table Top, Ariz."
The remainder of the Table Top Wilderness is depicted on USGS
7.5-minute topographic maps "Antelope Peak, Ariz.," "Indian
Butte, Ariz.," and "Vekol Mts., NE, Ariz."
- Table Top Trail receives the
greatest use October through April. At other times, the trail
receives little use. Always tell a friend or relative where you
are going and when you plan to return.
- Drinking water is not provided at Table Top Trail, so
- Vekol Valley is prone to heavy rains and flash floods. Do
not attempt to cross flooded washes.
- You may encounter rattlesnakes or other poisonous creatures;
watch for them and be careful where you put your hands and feet.
Do not harass reptiles most bites result from people playing
with, collecting or attempting to kill them.
- Fires are not allowed in the Table Top Wilderness.
- Pets are not allowed on Table Top