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Table Top Trail, AZ

no permit
422 77 2
Guide 77 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Southwest > Casa Grande SW
3.9 of 5 by 29
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 9.07 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,299 feet
Elevation Gain 2,084 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,384 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 - 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 20.99
Interest Peak
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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4  2019-01-13 caragruey
8  2019-01-13 caragruey
8  2018-12-25 JuanJaimeiii
23  2018-12-22
Tibber Top
13  2018-01-20 Nightstalker
4  2017-12-03 The_N
22  2017-03-05 Yoder
19  2017-02-10 astrobrewer
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author annette
author avatar Guides 4
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 1 map ( 0 miles )
Age 69 Female Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 9 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:11am - 6:38pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Got Switchbacks ???
by annette

When you first see Table Top Mountain 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 trailhead 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 bikes and 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 beautiful terrain. The lack of the usual clutter of undergrowth helped to showcase the many saguaros, chain-fruit Cholla and even the lovely Cholla deadfall. 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 looking back toward the trailhead. The northern sentinel 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 trail register. 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 rock-strewn. 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 trail was 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 spotted the 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 big wash. On the other side, the climb to the top begins in earnest through even more switchbacks than any of us would like to imagine. Along these, you will find some beautiful large rocks with quartz extrusions. Fantastic! Sometimes the rocks that comprise the trail seem cemented together, at other times dangerous scree, but usually just lots of rocks. This was where Mike described his descent of the mountain as "Scree Surfing".

As you ascend the mountainside, you will find a field of lava rock, approximately 25 feet wide and 100 feet long. Near the lava field, two or three walls (about 3 to 4 feet high) had been constructed of lava and other rock. The purpose of these walls was unclear.
anonymous wrote: Civil war soldiers who occupied the mountain long ago built the walls for protection from invading soldiers from below.

Plant life seen in this area are aloe, century plants, yucca, and some additional types of cacti that were not seen in the lower elevations.

Upon attaining the summit of the mountain, we saw the Table Top Trail post 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 richly deserved!

The views from on top are really awesome. We could see South Mountain, the Estrellas, Eagletail Mountains, the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force 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.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2001-11-12 annette
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007

BLM Division Details
Table Top 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 Trailhead.

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 bring plenty.
  • 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 Trail.

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 18 deeper Triplog Reviews
Table Top Trail
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Headed down to Table Top with Kyle & Chumley for a nice hike. We met off Ray Road and the I-10 and made the drive down. Most of the dirt road is in good condition but there are a bunch of short rutted sections as you cross washes. I would recommend a 4x4. We started hiking around mid-morning and made the hike in. The first two miles are easy going followed by two long miles where you have to climb 2,000ft. This section took some work. We took a short break on top and then made the final push to the true summit. This section is very easy and cover about a mile.

We took a break on the summit and added our names to the register. The view are really nice despite all the dust and air pollution. After our break, we started our return. The hike back went well. Chumley made a short detour while Kyle and I continued down. We took our time as we descended. Once things leveled off, we waited for Chumley and the last two miles breezed by.

I'm really glad I finally got to cross Table Top off the list. I've wanted to hike this one for at least five year. It's a long drive but well worth the effort. Thanks Chumley for planning and driving.
Table Top Trail
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I read about this hike in the newspaper years ago and have been wanting to do it. My friend Bruce and I both had the day off and he has a jeep and was interested in going so we did. We got to the trailhead around 10am, signed the log and started walking. There were no other cars at the trailhead parking so we had the mountain to ourselves. It was a warm day with temperatures in the mid-80s. The trail gets steeper and steeper as you walk, and Table Top gets bigger and bigger, but it seemed like it took forever to get to the wash where the trail climbs Table Top proper. Checking RouteScout this was the 3 mile point and we had only hiked half the elevation gain. At that point Table Top loomed huge in front of us. From there onward the trail goes up the very steep side of the mountain with lots and lots of switchbacks. After what seemed an endless climb we got past the switchbacks and found ourselves at the top. We checked out the little radio station (without touching anything - it was marked "Property of the US Gov't" and we don't want to get in trouble with them). Then we continued on the trail around the ridge to the high point with the survey marker. The view from the top was incredible. We could see the Estrellas to the North, Four Peaks on the horizon to the Northeast, and Picacho and Newman to the South, and lots more. It was like being on the top of the world. We ate lunch at the top, and then headed back down. The hike down required intense concentration to avoid slipping on the loose rocks on the steep trail, so not much sight seeing on the way back. All in all a very enjoyable hike and I'm glad to be able to take this one off my wish listl
Table Top Trail
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linda and i both missed out on this hike with the boys, so when she suggested we do it, i was in
not too bad a drive, although there were three spots my truck might have had problems with
would hate to find out the hard way, so it was nice of linda to drive
got going around 8:30 with 50 degree temps, very little wind and a few clouds
the first mile or so goes through classic desert terrain, then the grade gradually increases
the last half mile or so nearing the initial top out is steep and has some loose rock
easy going up, but a challenge descending
nice scenery on the ascent, with surrounding mountain ranges becoming visible
we checked out some equipment and a helicopter landing area, then set out for the high point another half mile away
nice trail, ending at an overlook
the benchmark is back a little ways to the east
we found two reference marks, both on west side; looked for but did not find any others
great views of the estrellas, picacho peak, what linda identified as the sand tanks, maricopa mountains and even babo
had a snack and headed back before getting chilled
as we dropped off the top, met two guys coming up
the steep upper grade eventually moderates, and we were back at the trailhead soon enough
loved this hike
there's something about these more remote peaks in pristine desert that are harder to get to that i enjoy
nice weather, cool peak and good company - thanks, linda
had a great time :)
Table Top Trail
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Joined the Turtle and JJ for Denny's first hike up Table Top. Excellent weather and company. This was my 100th hike with JJ, and I'm proud to say I'm still alive! Although the drive out the dirt road almost proved me wrong. :o

Good times. Thanks Denny and JJ. You guys rock! :)
Table Top Trail
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Headed out at the crack of noon for a toasty warm January afternoon on the table. Despite the holiday, nobody else was out here today, and we enjoyed the peace and solitude of the area.

The top half of the hike gets steep and the switchbacks are loose rock, so the speed slows considerably. Up top, the trip from the official trail end to the real high point is easy compared to the earlier climb.

Visibility today was pretty bad, with lots of winter particulates, though not nearly as brown as what I had seen in the valley on my drive down. In retrospect, we could identify mountains in the 80-110 mile range, so it wasn't quite as bad as it seemed.

The Vekol road has taken a beating from recent storms, and while it is still possible in 2wd when dry, it definitely requires high clearance. I even had to scrape a couple of times in my Taco getting through some deep washes. Too bad I don't have those extra beefy tires and a lift ;)

Was surprised to see a nice six or eight point buck followed shortly by four does on the way out. All the way in the lowest part of the desert! :y:

Not sure why people say this is so far away. From Tempe it took the same amount of time to drive to I-8 and Vekol Road as it does to get to Peralta (45 min). Sure there's still 15 miles of dirt to go from there, but it's truly not that far compared to many hikes that people from the valley regularly hike.

Didn't see any signs of illegal activity all day, but did tip my beer to an armada of border patrol vehicles back at the I-8 junction on the way home.

Despite being a little warm, it was a nice day, and good to add a hiking partner to my list that BobP doesn't have. There's not too many of those! 8)
Table Top Trail
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Nice hike with Bart01 out in the middle of nowhere. It's about a half mile from the parking area to the actual trailhead and register. There are some interesting rock walls on the hike up when you get close to the top. Once we reached the top we hiked an established trail down a ways then back up across the mesa. The real summit is near the end of this trail. We wandered around the mesa and had some lunch before heading back down. Back at the parking area we met a couple from Tucson who had been camping nearby with a dead battery in their vehicle. Fortunately Joel had jumper cables and saved them a huge towing bill! Very peaceful and quiet during the entire hike. Quite a ways to travel for this hike though. 15 miles of dirt/gravel road. Nice spot to overnight. There are a few developed campsites, and the Lava Flow Trail to explore.
Table Top Trail
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Took my friend Lauren up Table Top today. Nice relaxing hike with a great trail the entire way. A bit hazy in the distance but could still see the surrounding area pretty well. Snow up on Mt. Lemmon looked nice from the distance. Found several articles of clothing along the way which had me puzzled. I collected them all on the way down along with other trash. Nice area and we were the only ones out there today, felt great. The road in was not too bad, could see issues with it after heavy rain, but it was okay. No mud for the Jeep to play with though. The only bummer of the day I guess. lol
Table Top Trail
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Having not been able to get out on hikes lately for various reasons, this hike was quite strenuous. The heat, and more than that the humidity that day was making me sweat like never before. Other than that though was a beautiful hike. Lots of plant life out there, lack of wildlife however in this middle of nowhere. Only ran into a couple other visitors early on so I had it to myself. It was nice getting out of the concrete into a natural setting I had been longing for. Steep steady climb on what seemed like an ancient big horn trail, Actually on the way down in areas I could see the wear down on the bedrock of thousands of years of hooves climbing up and down this. Summit offered an ok view, not quite a 360 view like Humphrey, but still a great point to be at. Overall it was great to get back out on a trail!
Table Top Trail
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The Vekol Road is not the easiest road to drive. I attempted it in my Honda Accord. After about 13 of the 15 miles, I wasn't sure how much more difficult the road was going to get, so I pulled-off into a clearing about two miles from the parking lot and walked. In hindsight, I probably could have made it there. A Senata was parked up there. So, a car could make it, but the driving is slow (5-30 MPH), and you should make sure you feel comfortable driving a rough road and have a spare tire. The road crosses several small washes, so if it has rained recently (in the last 3-4 days), I would strongly advise against taking a car. HC vehicles should have no problem though.

The Hike
This was our first attempt at a good hike. The difficult was not too bad on the way up (it was more the distance than the pitch for us). I think the most difficult part of the journey was coming down. The path is covered in loose rocks for much of the more difficult portion. Going up it wasn't an issue, but the descent was made much more difficult because of the loose footing. I'd strongly advise some hiking/walking sticks for better support.

The Summit
Great views from the top, especially looking back at how far you've traveled. You can easily see Maricopa, Casa Grande, and interstates 8 and 10 from the top. The Estrellas were easy to see, and South Mountain could be viewed on the horizon.

I'd make sure to slop on some sunscreen. The trail exposes you to the sun through the entire day, and there is little shade along the route.

Give yourself plenty of time to get there. Depending on your vehicle, it'll take 30 min to 1 hour to get to the small parking lot from the freeway.
Table Top Trail
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This was a great way to walk off those extra turkey pounds the day after Thanksgiving. Went with my nephew Andrew and my friends from work, Brian and Debbie. Since 90-95% of my hikes are done by myself, it was nice for a change to go with a group.
Even though this is in a remote area, I usually hike out here once a year. I love the Sonoran scenery. Today, after we reached the unofficial top of the mountain, we picked out a trail from the summit post and headed out northeast to the saddle that connects the north mesa with the south one. The trail was actually pretty well defined. Once we hit the saddle, we did have to bushwhack some up the north mesa to the actual highpoint of Tabletop (4373 ft). The bushwhacking isn't anything major but you do have to dodge some prickly pear as you travel across the prarie like environment.
We discovered a poor dead cow and an old downed antenae while exploring the other side. You also get more great varied views from this side. If you travel to the far northwest part of the north mesa and look south you will see two poles stuck up from the ground at a raised point that reminded me of a sacrificing pit in a horror movie :twisted: This is the true highpoint of the mountain and this is where I located a summit log that was stashed away in a cache like tube. The last entry was from back in April.
This was the first time I have been to the other part of the top of Tabletop. It adds around 1.4 miles or 40-60 minutes roundtrip.

Permit $$

Map Drive
High Clearance possible when dry

To hike
From the junction of I-10 and I-8 near Casa Grande, proceed west on I-8 for 34 miles. Take Exit 144 and then go south on Vekol Road. After the pavement ends travel about 10 miles where you will come to an intersection. Bear to the left (east) and continue about 4 miles to the Table Top Trailhead parking area. There are also several vertical "Trail" signs with arrows to direct you.
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