Table Mountain is an isolated peak located in the southern section of the Diablo Range. It is the highpoint in Kings County and serves as a boundary marker between the western edge of Kings County and the eastern edge of Monterey County. Table Mountain stands on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, but it is surrounded by privately owned lands. For this reason, access is limited.
Summit register beneath rocks.
Castle Mountain northeast of Table Mountain.
The flat, 3473-foot summit Table Mountain lies on the southwestern side of a broad horizontal plateau that stretches 10 miles in an east-to-west direction. Patches of forest scatter the landscape with small oak and Digger Pine mixed with Juniper and Manzanita. Mining operations were once in full swing here. Prospects, open pits and derelict mines, including Kings Mine and White Mine, pockmark the surrounding area. Directly to the northwest, Avenal Canyon descends to an elevation below 2200 feet. From the canyon, steep barren slopes rise radically over 1500 feet to a recessed area known as The Dark Hole. Fresno County’s 4343-foot Castle Mountain fortifies the northwest while 4345-foot Black Mountain does the same a ridgeline farther north. Fifteen miles to the northeast look for Reef Ridge and the Kreyenhagen Hills. To the south, oak-dotted slopes descend into Cholame Valley, giving way farther on to the Cholame Hills. The view continues to the east, finding Garza and Tar Peaks, the Chalk Buttes, the Kettleman Plain and beyond.
Sign near Cholame Valley.
You may find this sign.
Cross the gate indicated in the driving directions and follow Turkey Flat Road east until you pass beneath power lines. Your course now changes to follow jeep trails that incline in a northeasterly direction towards higher elevations west of Table Mountain. There are a number of different jeep trails that follow the power lines. Use Google Maps and/or the USGS “The Dark Hole” Quadrangle to choose your route. At an elevation of 3400 feet jeep trails bear east towards the non-descript, flat summit. The summit has a benchmark and a summit register hidden in a pile of rocks. At night you may have difficulty locating the register as the area is forested by small trees with an understory of brush, which might include poison oak. If unable to locate the register consider circling the area methodically until you find the pile of rocks and register.
From Interstate 5, at Kettleman Junction-near the town of Kettleman City-go west 25 miles on highway 41. Pass James Dean Memorial Junction where Highway 41 and 46 connect and immediately turn right onto Cholame Valley Road. In 13.4 miles turn right on Turkey Flat Road.
From Highway 101 exit at Paso Robles and drive east 25 miles on Highway 46 to Cholame Valley Road and go left. In 13.4 miles go right at Turkey Flat Road. Find a secure location to park before the road becomes private and barred by a locked gate. You will begin hiking on the other side of the gate, should you choose this route.
New Kettleman Hills Gusher?
“The County’s name comes from the Kings River, originally Rio de Los Santos Reyes, ‘river of the holy kings.’ The name refers to the three Biblical wise men. The San Joaquin Valley floor makes up over three quarters of the county’s land area. Here, agriculture rules supreme--vegetable crops, field crops, fruit and nut orchards, dairying, poultry, and stock raising. The Kettleman Hills produce oil and natural gas. Population clusters around Hanford , the county seat and center of commerce. The southwest corner of the county has a potential for strong earthquakes. The USGS intensively studies a 20-mile segment of the San Andreas Fault near Table Mountain, known for regularly recurring temblors. Seismologists have installed more monitoring equipment here than along any other stretch of fault in the world, with an eye toward earthquake prediction. (Many big quakes have foreshocks that precede the most severe shaking by days, hours, or minutes.) Researchers hope to catch the longest, most active fault in the Northern Hemisphere in action.” (From California County Summits by Gary Suttle).