North Table Mountain
|North Table Mountain|
View looking northeast from the top of Lookout Mountain.
|Elevation||6,566 ft (2,001 m) NAVD 88|
|Location||Jefferson County, Colorado, U.S.|
|Topo map||USGS Golden|
|First ascent||1840s by Black Kettle and tribe|
|Easiest route||Quarry road up west slope|
North Table Mountain is a mesa located just northeast of downtown Golden, Colorado in Jefferson County, Colorado. Its most distinctive feature is its cap of basaltic rock formed from Cenozoic lava flows from the nearby Ralston Dike. North Table Mountain is a popular scenic and recreational destination of the Denver metro area, and it is preserved as public open space by Jefferson County and the Access Fund. Recent and ongoing projects by Jefferson County Open Space have resulted in the construction of several new trails and eliminated large numbers of unofficial trails. The mountain has a twin of the same formation nearby, known as South Table Mountain, separated by the canyon that Clear Creek has cut in between.
On July 22, 2005, more than 200 acres (81 hectares) were set ablaze. Two fifteen-year-old boys were charged with first-degree felony arson and misdemeanor fourth-degree arson for lighting fireworks. They claimed to have shot off a Roman candle, which started several small spot fires at the base of the north face. After fleeing the scene, an area resident witnessed the act and reported them to the police after the fire escalated. They were soon found by the police and were cooperative. The fire only burned one structure, a toolshed, and some other small miscellaneous pieces of property. The fire cost more than 100,000 dollars (U.S. currency) to contain and extinguish. The fire was contained later the same day, but being summer and the prairie grass conditions, the fire spread rapidly.
Among the animals known to frequent the mesa through time according to local newspaper accounts include mountain sheep, mountain lions, deer, elk and more. Several areas are closed seasonally to protect several species of nesting raptors. Of these most except for the mountain sheep continue to live upon the mountain today. In the late 19th century bees also nested in the cliffs.
North Table Mountain has a wide variety of the mineral Zeolite. Zeolites are minerals that have some combination of Aluminum, Silica and water. The water is in a loose chemical bond that is shown as ".H2O" They are also called "hydrous aluminum silicates" and are sometimes able to yield steam when heated. There are around 30 varieties of zeolites and North Table Mountain has possibly the greatest different types of any site in the world. Over 20 different types have been found there.
Although both North Table Mountain and South Table Mountain are similar geologically, only North Table Mountain's Basalt contains the Zeolite crystals. The caps of the two mountains are from lava flows and three distinct layers can be seen on North Table Mountain but South Table Mountain is missing the middle layer which contains the Zeolites.