Table Mountain (Butte County, California)

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This article is about Table Mountain in Butte County, California. For other uses, see Table Mountain (disambiguation).

North Table Mountain and South Table Mountain are two plateaus outside the city of Oroville, California. They are named for their flat surface, like a table top.

Table Mountain

Location and geography[edit]

South Table Mountain[edit]

South Table Mountain, at 39°33′23″N 121°33′00″W / 39.55639°N 121.55000°W / 39.55639; -121.55000, is private, and contains the "O", which is a big "O" on the side of the plateau, that stands for "Oroville". Dedicated on June 8, 1929 by Morrow Steadman, the big "O" has a concrete thickness of four inches, and was measured by its builders to be 87 feet by 33 feet. It was intended to last through the generations and convey a spirit of good sportsmanship in local high school athletic events. The "O" is on private property. It was to have another meaning too. Steadman wrote in the '29 OHS Yearbook, the "Alpha" and said he hoped the "O" would remind students of "cooperation and teamwork, both on the athletic fields and in our school activities".

South Table Mountain

North Table Mountain[edit]

North Table Mountain, at 39°38′10″N 121°33′00″W / 39.63611°N 121.55000°W / 39.63611; -121.55000, is mostly private, but includes a small portion which is a wildlife area, and contains several waterfalls, including Phantom Falls, and Beatson Falls. There are no trails, so people who want hike to the waterfalls have to find their own way. The best time to view the waterfalls is winter to early spring. They are usually dry during the summer months. Everything east of Cherokee Road is on private property; however, it is not off limits to visitors.

Lava wall on North Table Mountain

Ancient Lava Fields[edit]

Both of the Table Mountains are the remainder of an ancient volcano, and ancient lava fields can still be found all over the mountain. Part of the Lovejoy Formation, the mountains are believed by some to date back to 14 million and 39 million years ago. However, the mountains are known to date back six thousand years.[1]

The O[edit]

Table Mountain is well known for its large "O". The O is painted on the southern slope of South Table Mountain, and stands for Oroville. During heavy rain, the paint often washes off and the letter changes. Often the neighboring town of Chico changes the "O" to a "C" resulting in a refresh of the paint job by volunteer caretaker and Oroville Union High School alumni, Danny Wilson. Even though the "O" is on private land, the owner allows volunteers to go up there once or twice a year to maintain it. Although the "O" is on private property, some people still manage to find a way up there.

Coal Canyon

Coal Canyon[edit]

Coal Canyon, where Phantom Falls is located, gets its name because it looks like coal, but is actually made from basalt. The canyon and waterfall are accessible by a difficult, steep downhill hike, and the canyon itself can also be hiked.

Caves[edit]

In addition to dozens of seasonal waterfalls, there are also several shallow caves scattered throughout the basalt canyons. There are about 5 caves located on North Table Mountain, all behind large waterfalls.

Cave at Phantom Falls

The largest cave is located at Phantom Falls, and the deepest cave is at Little Phantom Falls, and actually requires crawling. Both are located in Coal Canyon. A small cave is also located at Flag Falls and Beatson Falls. Another cave is located behind a small unnamed watertfall. The caves are made of a mixture of basalt and clay, and were created over thousands of years, as the waterfalls eroded away at the rock. The two caves at Coal Canyon are the most easily accessible, and the one at Phantom Falls is the most visited.

History[edit]

Cherokee[edit]

Cherokee ruins

The small ghost town of Cherokee, California, is on the mountain, and is named because a small group of Cherokee Indians were brought there and established a small community. Today only ruins remain, but the area is home to around 20 people.

Phantom Ranch[edit]

Phantom Ranch is the ruins of an ancient ranch house from the late 19th century that was used during the Gold Rush. The ranch can be seen from the Phantom Falls hike. The ranch is now completely in ruins, and the only thing left of it are a few pieces of wood where the foundation used to be.

Wildlife[edit]

Newt on Table Mountain

The mountain includes several wildlife species, including: the California newt, banana slugs, different frog species, several bird species, western Pacific rattlesnake, garter snakes, California Horned Lizard, and several mammal species, including Black-tailed Deer, coyotes, mountain lion, and domesticated cattle, which move around freely. There is also a small area known as Sugarloaf Mountain, where several animals are said to live, including peacocks, foxes, and Wild Turkey.

Climate and habitat[edit]

Both the mountains are made up of two main habitats, grassland and forest. The climate is wet and rainy from late autumn to early spring, and hot and dry in the summer.

Mining[edit]

Abandoned mine shaft at Phantom Falls

There is a silicon mine at the bottom of North Table Mountain. There are also several old irrigation mines at the north end of North Table Mountain. There is also an old mine shaft at Phantom Falls, which was used during the Gold Rush. Research sometimes takes place at the mine, although it can be difficult.

In film[edit]

Table Mountain was also used in Terrence Young's movie (which starred O.J. Simpson) The Klansman. The area was used to film scenes that were supposed to take place in Alabama.

Tours[edit]

Volunteers from the California Department of Fish and Game have now started giving free tours on North Table Mountain. Tours are given the first and third Saturday of the month, Feb-May, when the waterfalls are flowing and flowers are blooming. Tours start from a parking lot on Cherokee road, and there are 2 tours a day, which last about 2 hours each. [2] [3]

Spring Wildflowers[edit]

Lupine field on Table Mountain

Table Mountain is most famous for its vast array of wildflowers, which bloom during spring time. The bloom usually lasts from the last 2 weeks of March, to the first 2 weeks of April. The flower bloom is the most popular attraction on Table Mountain. During the time of the bloom, people come from all over Northern California to see the wildflowers, and tourism is at its highest. There are even photo taking tours offered one weekend, but this changes every year. These tours are usually announced in the local paper, and news. There are several species of flowers that bloom during this period. The most common are lupine, frying-pan poppy, and goldfields. The flowers are protected by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, so picking them is illegal, but visitors are allowed to look and even touch the flowers, as long they are not damaged. Because the area has no trails, stepping on the flowers is hard not do. It is advised that visitors are careful while trekking, so the delicate flowers are not damaged. The best flowers are found usually found in the area between Fern and Phantom Falls.

List of waterfalls on Table Mountain[edit]

Beatson Falls on Table Mountain
  • Beatson Falls
  • Catamount Falls
  • Coon Falls
  • Crack Falls (Crevice Falls)
  • Fern Falls (Ravine Falls)
  • Flag Falls
  • Hidden Falls
  • Hollow Falls
  • Little Phantom Falls
  • Long Falls (Ranch Falls)
  • Lower Ravine Falls
  • Phantom Falls (Coal Canyon Falls)
  • Ravine Twin Falls
  • Schirmer Cascade
  • Schirmer Falls
  • Scott Falls
  • Western Falls

There are also several smaller waterfalls that are unnamed.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Laura Brown (April 3, 2009). "Table Mountain offers history, rare plants". TheUnion.com. Retrieved August 2, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Guided Tours to be Offered at Scenic Table Mountain". California Department of Fish and Game. December 28, 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2011. 
  3. ^ Matt Kawahara (April 8, 2011). "Some of Butte County's best scenery is hidden in Table Mountain's narrow valleys". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved August 2, 2011. 

External links[edit]