I’ve hiked most of the trails in Table Rock State Park, but I somehow managed to avoid climbing to the 3124-foot summit of the mountain. I think it was always too crowded compared to neighboring Pinnacle Mountain and Caesars Head. After weeks of traveling—and the poor eating and exercise that accompanies it—I decided to finally tackle the mountain. The weather was terrible, so I had Table Rock all to myself.
The hike up to Table Rock starts at the same trailhead as Carrick Creek Falls. It’s $5 per adult to enter the park and hikers have to register with the ranger station. There are bathrooms with running water and a small store at the trailhead. The trail to the summit forks to the right just after the falls. It’s a 3.5-mile out-and-back, making it around 7 miles round trip. The first half of the trail is moderate. The second half is strenuous.
I really enjoyed this hike. Heavy rain made the trail muddy and the rocks slick. And there are a lot of rocks. My feet haven’t cramped this bad since I hiked to Hemlock Falls in North Georgia. Then again, it may be my new shoes. I only really got one good view when the winds parted the clouds momentarily and the rain ceased. Fortunately, I was at an overlook about a third of the way up the mountain, just before the fork of the Ridge Trail.
There’s not much to say about this. If you like elevation, you’ll like this hike. If you prefer leisurely strolls, you will not have fun here. I’d say the trek up the mountain is more difficult than Looking Glass Rock, but less difficult than taking the Noland Divide Trail up to Clingman’s Dome. The views are spectacular on clear days, but the summit is one of the more crowded in the foothills. On holiday weekends, expect this climb to be like waiting in line for a ride at Disney. Except there’s no ride—just a sea of selfie sticks and bleached teeth.
Trekking poles are very useful on the trail, especially on the descent. And because of the ubiquitous water, bug spray is highly recommended in the warmer months.
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