Review: Table Mountain Campground

By Heather

This is it – our favorite local campground.

Do you have a local favorite? If not, you should. Some camping trips are Events, but others are just brief getaways. Having a campground you love to escape to nearby will do wonders for your stress level.

Our local de-stresser is Table Mountain Campground in the Angeles National Forest. We come here multiple times every camping season, and it’s always wonderful. Okay, not always. One time it really sucked. But that was mostly our fault.

We love Table Mountain because:

  • It’s nearby. We can get up there a few hours after work on a Friday night. On Sunday, when we’re pretty much ready to go home and shower off the dirt, we leave after breakfast and we’re back home by noon-ish.
  • The hosts are great. For the longest time, Table Mountain had a host who was very strict. She really aggravated the hell out of us… until we camped somewhere with a host who didn’t care, and suddenly we loved her and all her crazy rules. She instills order! She’ll do something when you complain about someone being loud and annoying! You want this. Trust me.
  • It’s beautiful. Many sites have lovely views of the mountains, lakes and trees.

We went there earlier in June to celebrate our third anniversary. This also marks three years of camping, because we made our first camping trip the weekend before we got married. Anniversaries galore!

Jensen’s Supermarket

One of the things we anticipate most about Table Mountain isn’t actually the camping. It’s the supermarket about five miles away: Jensen’s.

I could not love this store more and I wish there were one near our place, because among many other things, they make the most amazing deli sandwiches. The roast beef is tender, the bread is just the right amount of chewy, the dressing adds loads of flavor and the toppings are super fresh and crunchy.

On top of that, they have a section of camping supplies that’s pretty impressive. If you forget anything important, chances are you’ll find it at Jensen’s. This includes egg containers, flint, spatulas, propane, ponchos, extra long forks for s’mores and so on. Don’t come here looking for air mattresses or anything, though. It’s not Bass Pro, for Pete’s sake.

If that’s not enough, their liquor selection is astounding, too! For being a grocery store essentially in the middle of not a whole lot, their bourbon choices are vast and the prices completely reasonable. There’s also tons of beer and wine.

It’s also a fully stocked grocery store. No bare bones here. What do you need? Frozen dinners, fresh produce, snacks, ice, firewood, soda, ice cream, whatever! You’ll find it at Jensen’s.

Lastly, they smoke meat and sell barbecue right there on the premises. Let me let that sink in: They smoke meat and sell barbecue right there on the premises. We haven’t partaken of the barbecue, but oh, do we smell it! One of these days, if I can tear myself away from a deli sandwich, I’m going to tear into a rack of ribs.

The camping

All right. It’s not a Jensen’s blog.

Table Mountain is about half first-come, first-served sites and half reservable sites. Naturally, the first-come sites have much better views than the reservable ones. Our strategy is to book a reservable site, then troll the first-come ones to see if any of those are available. Then we swap the name tags, and the site we paid for can now go to whoever shows up to claim it.

As luck would have it the last time we were there, the people staying in one of our favorite first-come sites were packing up. We asked if we could put some of our things at the site to claim it before they left, and they were happy to oblige.

From there, we pitched our tent, hung our hammocks and had a blissful, relaxing weekend. Even Nabby got into the action.

Our site was private enough that we could leave the rainfly off and wake up to this:

photo 4

photo 3

One awesome thing is all the free wood we scored this time! Because it was only the second weekend the campground has been open for the season, there was tons of chopped up wood just sitting there for the taking. So, we took. And we had huge, awesome fires.

Table Mountain information

  • Toilets: Vault, kept very clean.
  • Water: There are lots of spigots all over the campground.
  • Supplies: Jensen’s, duh!
  • Firewood: You can also purchase wood from the host, but it’s pine, so I don’t recommend it. Jensen’s sells pine and oak, as well as kindling. There is also Lange’s Wood Yard just down the road, and the man there sells his firewood for $1 less a bundle than Jensen’s. Sometimes you can luck out with a good haul from him.
  • Hiking: If you want some exercise, the Pacific Crest Trail runs right through the campground.
  • Extras: If you’re looking to drive around the area, the Angeles Crest Highway is absolutely gorgeous. When exiting the campground onto the 2, just turn right and stay on it and enjoy the views. After you take the drive, you’re going to start seeing the Crest Highway in a million car commercials.