About 10 miles northeast of Medford are two eye-catching buttes—Upper and Lower Table Rock. They are composed of sandstone with erosion-resistant lava caps deposited during a massive Cascade eruption around five million years ago. Over the years, wind and water erosion have created near vertical slabs of geology. More than 140 kinds of plants reside in the area creating an exquisite wildflower display that reaches its zenith in April. There are abundant lichens and mosses, which grow on the lava, painting the black basalt with luxuriant greens and fluorescent yellows during the wetter months.
The two-mile trail to the top of horseshoe-shaped Lower Table Rock is a hikers’ treat. Be sure to look for the “mima mounds” or “patterned ground” that distinguishes the surface of the butte. How the mounds were formed is still a matter of scientific debate. The trail up Upper Table Rock is a little over a mile but steeper. It’s sticky and slippery in the wet season, but affords wonderful vistas of the Rogue River and Sams Valley to the north. There are two benches along the way—perfect places to stop, rest and savor the view.
Take Hwy 62 northeast out of Medford to Central Point Exit (Exit 33), then east about one mile to Table Rock Rd. and turn north (left). Continue 7.6 miles, passing Tou Velle State Park, then turn east. Continue for about one mile to the signed parking lot on your left. There are some basic campgroundstyle toilets at the trailhead. For more information, call (541) 618-2200.