Table Rock Trail is a 4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Calistoga, CA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
The trail starts at the crest of SR 29 between Calistoga and Clear Lake. It is in undeveloped Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, which does not even have maps online. The trail is labeled on on the AllTrails map. The trailhead is across the highway from the Mt. St. Helena trailhead. The trail climbs through a fir forest before breaking out at a signed overlook "Table Rock Overlook". From there it slowly drops down through mostly manzanita areas to a small stream. On the way down it passes a large complex of rock labyrinths. After crossing the stream the trail climbs to a signed trail intersection from which you scramble west over the rocks to the top of Table Rock itself.
This trail lacks signage. From the rock garden onward nobody seems to know where the trail is. We ended up on the Palisades trail and others we met along the hike tried other trails, none marked and none of which led to Table Rock.
Great trail! how I wish it's a loop trail. Nice trail for beginners.
At age 73, having done the Yosemite Creek Trail from Tioga Road into Yosemite Valley last week and Crater Mountain in Mono Craters a month ago, this was not particularly difficult today, more like good excercise for a good night's sleep. This is definitely more physically challenging than Mount St. Helena and the complete Oat Hill Mine Road, but only because of the uneven nature of the trail and the steepness in some places. The temperature was in the eighties, which was a definite factor. Two liters of water were more than adequate after pre-hike hydration. There are spectacular views, particularly at Table Rock, which make this hike more than worthwhile. Would highly recommend this to anyone, but would caution someone who is older to wear good hiking shoes, bring plenty of water...over hydrate, bring some energy source, and be sure you are prepared for very uneven footing and large elevation change.
Pretty wildflower sin spring
Great workout, and the unusual rock art done by either native american's or someone who had a lot of spare time, are fascinating.
The hike itself is pretty easy little elevation gain not too hard.
Plenty of spots for views to look at and around.
Weather is best right now to visit before it gets too hot.
The last 2 mile before reaching the parking area is best to be careful as people go over the speed limit that is posted for 20mph.
As other reviewers have noted:
(1) The views from the trail are quite beautiful
(2) Many sections of the trail are washed out
(3) The trail profile is inverted: quite a bit of ascent on the way back
Some narrative about the route I chose on a sunny and clear February day.
Section 1 of the trail starts from the parking lot in R.L. Stevenson Park on CA 29. It ascends about 1 mile to Table Rock OVERLOOK (not to be confused with Table Rock itself which is 1 mile further). The trail is fairly wide & in goodish shape. It culminates at the higher point of the entire route (2758 ft). Even before getting to the top, there are a couple spots where the trail straddles the ridgeline & the canopy opens to sweeping views to the North-East and the South-West (Calistoga/upper Napa Valley). For these looking for a short hike with good rewards, this is a good turnaround point.
Section 2 (1 mile point to point) first descends to the junction with a westward trail (aptly called “TRAIL” on the Alltrails map!) that connects to the Bear Valley trail (my return trail at the end of the trip). The descent from Table Rock Overlook has mostly been transformed into a gully that rainwater has sculpted as rainwater does… This means that the “official trail” is not always obvious and some attention to good footing is required in wet conditions (I went after a couple days of rain). Halfway down from the lookout, the trail crosses a small plateau where dedicated souls have created labyrinths and other geometric figures with carefully arrange rocks. After the junction with the “TRAIL”, the Table Rock trail continues another .5 mile to Table Rock itself. This section dips steeply to the bottom of a drainage gully before ascending back to the ridge where Table Rock sits. This is another good turning point; continuing further will mean another 6 miles to get to a pick up point. I continued…
Section 3 was, for me, the most challenging… but also the most stunning. First, it is 3.7 miles as it connects Table Rock to Holme’s Place and Oat Hill Mine Trail. Second, it follows the foot of the Palisades which means that it is narrow, cuts the flank of a fairly steep slope, and is of the rocky, “roots-full” ankles buster variety. These 3.7 miles felt much longer than that to me. However, the gains are worth the pain. Amazing views of the valley just North of Calistoga, front seat row to the spectacular palisades above the trail, many small streams making their way down to the valley floor (this was February…less of that in July/Aug for sure). Even a waterfall toward the end of this section. The mountain side was a vibrant green contrasting beautifully with the rock formations around.
Section 4 starts with Holme’s place (just ruins of foundations) which offers a few places to sit/snack or stretch after the crossing of the palisades. Just 100 feet further lays the junction with Oat Hill Mine Trail. Left, the next 2.7 miles follow an old dirt road which reverted back to a single track trail in places. I dearly welcomed that mostly level, wide, mostly obstacles-free section. While not as “classically” spectacular as the views below the palisades, that section offers very rewarding scenery too as it follows the upper reaches of Swartz Canyon. Even with a bit more traffic (mountain bikes) than the previous section, it gave me a sense of “remoteness” and a glimpse of what California hills may have looked like before wide-spread urbanization. About 2 miles in, other palisades (this time nicely stratified) provide more photo opportunities (carefully framing to avoid the 30 ft wide, 3 ft tall “Keep Out, Private” in white paint )
Section 5: Shortly after the trail veers due North, the Bear Valley trail branches off on the left. Bear Valley was my favorite portion of the route. It will not be for everyone; it is the “intimacy” of the landscape that resonated for me. In total, this is a bit above 3 miles going first up to a saddle and then mostly down to follow Van Ness Creek. Note: had to bushwhack 100 ft upstream at one crossing as the trail went straight through a large pool.
Section 6 starts at the junction with the “TRAIL” that closes the loop. That junction (like almost all others on this route) is not signed at all. It is a hairpin turn to the left, down to the creek bed, at a point where the creek bed is wide and vegetation sparse. I had to relocate a few flat stones to complete the fording path… Once across the creek, you are looking at 0.8 miles of scrambling up a steep slope to rejoin the Table Rock trail… and then 0.5 miles up the “washed-out” runoff gullies to Table Rock Outlook. Having already 10+ miles on the old legs pedometer at that time, that last ascent was fueled more by stubbornness than by leftover stamina. Felt good to reach Table Rock Overlook and know that it was all downhill from there.
Last thought: a GPS unit will help staying on track, finding turn-offs.
Easy hike that leads to a great rock formation on top of a hill.
Great trail. So many views and cool rock sculptures type things.
It is a fantastic trail, with beautiful views. The hike can be steep at times but well worth the adventure. Highly recommended
The trail was great, and the views where amazing
Actually went from table rock trailhead to Holm's place (6 miles), then descended via oat mill mine road (4.5 miles) to the junction of Hwy 29 and Silverado trail. The last 1.5 miles of the palisades trail before Holmes's place are the hardest part of the trail in my opinion, and elevate the trail to strenuous from moderate. The oat mill mine road trail is all downhill from here but quite rocky/ full of boulders- best done in hiking boots. The views from this trail are phenomenal, the rocks along palisade trail are just amazing. One of my fave hikes ever. All in all, this way it's about 10.5 miles (much better than going back the 6 miles from Holmes's place). However, do leave one car at the oat mill mine road trailhead and drive the other to the table-rock trailhead, you'll need to go back for you car or you might get a warning ticket from the sheriff if you leave your car on the Hwy overnight (personal experience).
We used to hike this trail a bit differently. We would start at Hwy 29 on Mt St Helena and start there but end in Calistoga by the Pizza place. One of our favorites. Table Rock is awesome, Once we hit Holms place (which I believe is the old homestead ruins) then we would head down to Calistoga on the old trail with the wagon wheels ruts in it. Again, great memories. Watch for ticks!!!
Ronald Eric M.
The main thing to consider on this trail is its inverted form: unlike most mountain trips, this one has significant upgrade on the way home, not just on the way out -- so be prepared! (If a shuttle can be arranged, clearly the easier trip is Mt. St. Helena Trailhead (2240')-Table Rock-Holm's Place (2400')-Calistoga (400'), so that the majority is downward after Table Rock -- I estimate that trip would have taken me about 5.5 to 6 hours).
The Mt. St. Helena trailhead is at 2240 feet above sea level. From there, the route climbs to 2750', then descends to 2200' before climbing to Table Rock at 2462'. Then the trail descends to Lasky Point (2000', where there is a memorial plaque), and continues largely along the 1800' contour. The low point is about 1650', then it gradually climbs toward Holm's Place at 2400'.
There are great panoramic views and lots of shade. The trails on the way to Table Rock are sometimes just run-off beds, and hard to find; fortunately earlier hikers have laid out rock markers to help clarify the way to go. After Table Rock, the trail can be narrow and rubbly in places, and reliable cleats on your boots will contribute greatly to your security.
My review is just for the Table Rock portion (can't find an option for that part). The trail is fairly well maintained. There are parts where you are unsure if you are going in the right direction since the terrain is very rocky and some parts look like rain wash instead of a trail. Fortunately, there are tons of rock markings and a couple flags from several hikers. There is even a part where someone spent the time to make a pathway with rocks halfway through the trail. Trail is mostly downhill on the way to the Rock. The views from Table Rock are amazing. The day we went was pretty windy, so be careful looking over those cliff sides! We also found 4 anchors on the side of the wall, so rock climbing will be in order next time.
Highly recommended .. Great views and good workout
You can also reach table rock from the top of Mt St Helena.