Oroville Outdoor Adventurer Hiking

Hike Like a Local: Table Mountain

My wife and I set out in late Feb­ru­ary to hike the trails on Table Moun­tain. It was a beau­ti­ful sun­ny day short­ly after a decent rain — the per­fect time to take to the trails around the Many Water­falls Loop up at Table Moun­tain.


Park­ing is avail­able in a grav­el lot on the west side of Chero­kee Road. The lot has a lim­it­ed num­ber of spaces, so please plan to arrive ear­ly for the best oppor­tu­ni­ties to park.

No park­ing on the pave­ment is allowed along the paved por­tion of Chero­kee Road, begin­ning approx­i­mate­ly 3.0 miles north of the inter­sec­tion of Ore­gon Gulch Road (large park­ing turnout near the crest of Chero­kee Road) to Der­rick Road (map). Vehi­cles park­ing on the shoul­der must be parked com­plete­ly off the pave­ment; vio­la­tors are sub­ject to tow.

Beat­son Falls

Beat­son Falls, it turned out, was not the easy walk we antic­i­pat­ed it was going to be. Rough­ly halfway there, we hit a sign that sug­gest­ed we could turn and trav­el through the coun­try­side — seem­ing­ly with­out a trail — to get to Crevice Falls, but with­out a detailed map, that didn’t seem like the best choice. I asked my wife if she want­ed to turn back, giv­en that it was still a fair stretch to Beat­son, but the sign indi­cat­ed it wasn’t that much fur­ther, so once again we thought: Why not; it’s only a lit­tle bit fur­ther ahead!”

What had begun as a delight­ful stroll through some rolling low­land hills, over which zig-zagged a few scenic water fea­tures, even­tu­al­ly turned into a long, slow uphill climb that took us fur­ther and fur­ther up. The last leg before Beat­son Falls itself required sure foot­ing on a rocky moun­tain­side slope next to a precipice that would even­tu­al­ly show us a glo­ri­ous view of the falls them­selves as they dropped about 80 feet into the hol­low below. It was a more stren­u­ous hike than we’d intend­ed to take, but the view was unlike any­thing I’ve yet seen in Butte Coun­ty, and made every exer­tion worth the effort.

Trip Tips for Respon­si­ble Travel

Make sure to help keep the reserve clean by fol­low­ing oth­er Leave No Trace principles

Dogs must remain on-leash at all times

Trash cans and restrooms are avail­able only at the park­ing lot, so plan accord­ing­ly, and be pre­pared pick up after your­self and pack out all trash

Stay on estab­lished trails, or trav­el on durable sur­faces (like rocks or packed dirt) when off-trail trav­el is needed

Enjoy the views OF the wild­flow­ers, not IN the wild­flow­ers (don’t pick or walk on the wildflowers)

Respect the graz­ing cat­tle by stay­ing at least 300 feet away from them at all times.

Drones are not allowed on the reserve with­out an appro­pri­ate film permit

Low­er Ravine Falls

From there, we weren’t sure what to do. Going back the way we came seemed like a long haul, and from the lim­it­ed map we had, it appeared we might be able to get back more eas­i­ly if we climbed the steep pass to the plateau above us. Lit­tle did we know that an even bet­ter over­look of Beat­son Falls would have await­ed us if we’d sim­ply head­ed to the left a short ways once we’d got­ten up top, but instead we set with gus­to across the graze­lands, through sev­er­al herds of curi­ous cows, a few of which stared at us with unset­tling inten­si­ty, and many more that mooed us on our way out of their ter­ri­to­ry. While the path here wasn’t so well-worn, it wasn’t long before we had got­ten our bear­ings and con­firmed with our map that we were head­ed in the right direc­tion, and we set off through more grass­land hills until hit­ting a sign for Low­er Ravine Falls and Phan­tom Falls.

It was the direc­tion we want­ed to go, and once again we thought: it’s not much far­ther, let’s go take a look!

To get down to the gen­tle glade where Low­er Ravine Falls actu­al­ly rests, one has to go down quite a long, slop­ing trail. Thank­ful­ly it wasn’t espe­cial­ly steep, and we were greet­ed with anoth­er gor­geous view of this small, unas­sum­ing water­fall and the rocky hol­low it spills into. Worth the extra leg­work for sure!

Hike Like a Local: Table Mountain

Phan­tom Falls & Ravine Falls

But what goes down must again come up, and this is when we real­ized that we had failed to plan our move­ments as well as we should have. Though we’d set out ear­ly in the morn­ing, the sun was beat­ing down on us after 3 hours or so on the trails, and what had been a large­ly pri­vate jour­ney with almost no co-hik­ers turned into a much more social jour­ney as we passed peo­ple com­ing from Phan­tom Falls. The paths going for­ward were quite nar­row, and as we would soon dis­cov­er, most­ly locat­ed on the sides of ravines that required us to climb or descend a con­sid­er­able dis­tance. Thank­ful­ly peo­ple were gen­er­al­ly cour­te­ous and allowed us to pass, and we did the same if we found a good place to stand to the side.

We final­ly reached Phan­tom Falls after a fierce climb on a rock-laden path. The views were won­der­ful, though by this point we had passed the 5‑hour mark of our hike, one that had grown far longer and more dif­fi­cult than what we’d ini­tial­ly planned on. We con­tin­ued past Phan­tom Falls back toward the park­ing area, and con­ferred with some oth­er hik­ers to find, much to our dis­may, that there would be one more down-and-up cross­ing to get through. We set our exhaus­tion aside for one final push, and made our way down to Ravine Falls. By this time the trails had grown quite crowd­ed, espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing our close prox­im­i­ty to the park­ing area, so we opt­ed not to try to wait our turn to get up close to the water­fall, instead push­ing up the last ascent to more lev­el ground. We walked the last stretch with a fam­i­ly and sev­er­al very hap­py dogs (at a respect­ful social dis­tance) back to the park­ing area.

All told, we walked about 9 miles over the course of 6 hours or so, a lot of which had been steep­er than we’d imag­ined. We were exhaust­ed but thrilled to have seen 5 fan­tas­tic water­falls, a cou­ple of beau­ti­ful gorges, and a seem­ing­ly end­less num­ber of green hills. The only thing we might have changed in ret­ro­spect was our lev­el of pre­pared­ness for all there was to see. Hope­ful­ly, our expe­ri­ence can help you be more pre­pared on your own jour­ney, be it just to Hol­low or Phan­tom Falls, or through the whole cross-coun­try Many Water­falls Loop.

Hik­ing Tips

Choose the right time for your hike on Table Moun­tain. Spring is ide­al, as it will show­case the nat­ur­al beau­ty of the area with green grass, flower blos­soms, and fuller trees. It’s also best to hike a day or two after a good down­pour. It will make the goings sig­nif­i­cant­ly mud­di­er, but the pay­off of the healthy water­falls will be worth it.

Wear good shoes and be pre­pared for less sta­ble ground.
This is real­ly Hik­ing 101 stuff, but espe­cial­ly when it comes to the Table Moun­tain trails, good hik­ing shoes or boots are a must. There will be a lot of mud­dy ter­rain if you’re trekking to see the falls after the rain, and the paths are often cov­ered over in large quan­ti­ties of small­er stones. They pro­vide trac­tion on mud­dy paths but aren’t espe­cial­ly sta­ble, so in addi­tion to good shoes, you may want to make use of trekking poles or walk­ing sticks to help keep your foot­ing on the ascents and descents nec­es­sary to get to many of the falls.

Plan in advance what you’d like to see
, go in with that plan in mind, and bring water and food accord­ing­ly, espe­cial­ly for longer hikes. You can real­ly build your own adven­ture with the many sights at Table Moun­tain, so know­ing how far you’d like to go will make your life a lot eas­i­er. Also try to build in some flex­i­bil­i­ty to your plans if you can. After all, you might be like we were and sim­ply say, Well, that one is pret­ty close — let’s do it!” when you see the next sign.

In Explore Butte Coun­ty’s Live Like a Local” series, Butte Coun­ty locals are invit­ed to share their expe­ri­ences about the best places to go, see, and expe­ri­ence. Hike Like a Local” is a spe­cif­ic LLL series focused on hik­ing trails in Butte Coun­ty. This is the first piece in the series.