WELLBARN ROAD TO BIG TABLE MOUNTAIN
big table mountain
Distance: 6.8 miles roundtrip for first lookout point (out and back)
Elevation Gain: 1,654 feet
Seasonality: Year round, best when green & when wildflowers bloom in March/April
Trailhead: Start at the Wellbarn Road Trailhead, a gate for a fire access road that leads to the Big Table Mountain trail.
Parking: Park in the dirt alongside Wellbarn Road at the fire access road gate 3/4 mile north of Canal Road.
Facilities: None. No potable water on the trail.
Difficulty: Strenuous due to steep incline.
The hike to the top of Big Table Mountain is one that everyone should experience. This is one of the best hikes to do in the Millerton Lake Area, and is best seen when it is lush and green in the early spring. The trail starts at a fire access road, so the first half of the hike is on dirt road. Once it forks off to the west, you reach a trail that leads you to the flat top of Big Table Mountain. Once at the top, you can hike around the flat expanse of Big Table Mountain where there are fields of wildflowers and grasses, as well as a few watering holes that are home to frogs and birds. Hike around the perimeter, and you will see spectacular views of the San Joaquin River, Pincushion Peak, and the other table top mountains in the surrounding area.
Though it is longer, the hike up is similar in terrain to Pincushion Peak, but there is much more shade and less gradual elevation gain. You may run into herds of cattle, but if you keep your distance, they don't even notice you.
Trip Planner Details:
It is important to note that this hike starts at the fire access road on Wellburn road, but the trail can also be accessed by the much longer San Joaquin River Trail as well.
Wellburn road is accessed via Auberry road, and you can park your car at the fire access road gate just 3/4 of a mile north of Canal road. There is a very small gap on the left hand side of the gate between the brick wall and the barbed wire fence that you can squeeze through to access the fire road. This is allowed, although you may feel a little like you are trespassing. There are a few residences down on Wellburn road, and you may see vehicles driving down this fire road.
There is a point where you will fork off onto the trail leading to the Big Table Mountain Ecological Reserve, which is the trail to the top of Big Table Mountain, however it is NOT MARKED AT ALL. It is important to know this because if you miss this fork, you will end up 1.3 miles down the trail at the San Joaquin River, and have to hike back up. Download the topo map above and have that with you to check periodically while hiking.
There is no potable water or restroom facilities at all on the hike, so be sure to pack enough water.
When You Do Your Research:
You can Google "Wellbarn Road Trailhead" and this will give you the Google Maps location of where you will be the starting this hike. Parts of this trail are in the Big Table Top Mountain Ecological Reserve and in the Millerton State Recreation Area, so you may see some references to that in your research. The "Wellbarn Road Trail" Google Maps pin is where the fork in the road is that we referenced above. Make sure you take the left fork (westbound). You may see varying distances online, and that mostly depends on how much you wander around the top of Big Table Mountain. If you want to keep it at a 6.8 mile trip as described in the Quickstats, only hike to the first picnic table. But for only another mile and a half total roundtrip, we recommend you circle the perimeter of the mountain's edge, which gives you some spectacular views.
Tips From One Who Hiked It:
There are several picnic tables on top of Big Table Mountain that allow you to soak in the spectacular views. Spend some time exploring the top and bring up a picnic lunch! And if you have a camera, be sure to get some great shots of those tiny hikers on top of Pincushion Peak!