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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

TABLE TOP MESA

TABLE TOP MESA Table Top Wilderness Area WARNING JULY 2010: THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT HAS POSTED A WARNING SIGN ALONG THE ACCESS ROAD TO THIS TRAIL ADVISING OF DANGERS ASSOCIATED WITH ILLEGAL DRUG SMUGGLING ACTIVITIES. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK! Near the 4,356-foot summit of Table Top Mountain, a series of low walls stand in stony silence over the sprawling desert lowlands of the Vekol Valley. Blurring the border between truth and legend, the origin and purpose of the walls is shrouded in mystery, baffling archeologists and geologist alike. Easy-to-spot from the freeways near Casa Grande, the distinct, solitary flat-topped mesa is a familiar landmark rising 2,000 feet above hazy cotton fields and desert plains. Getting to the top is easier than it appears, though. An obvious, gradual trail crawls up the mountain through bajadas, ancient basalt lava flows and pristine communities of ironwood and mesquite to the crest of the mesa. There, a breezy, 40-acre yucca-dotted grassland rolls out like an overgrown shag carpet stitched together in loose clumps of sun-bleached, earth-tone fodder. LENGTH: 7 miles round-trip RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 2,300 – 4,356 feet Getting there: From Phoenix, travel south on Interstate 10 to Interstate 8. Go west on I-8 to the Vekol Valley Interchange (exit 144). From there, go south on Vekol Road for 2.1 miles to the Vekol Ranch turnoff, veer right, and follow the “trail” posts for 15.2 miles to the signed campsite with vault toilets. The dirt access road is well maintained and marginally passable by sedan. However, a high-clearance vehicle is recommended due to some sandy portions and deep ruts. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is required if the roads are wet. Information: Visit: azwww.az.blm.gov/pfo/ttm.htm or call (623) 580-5500

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