This is a popular hike that has very cool columnar basalt cliffs and spires with excellent views of Hood, Jefferson, and the central Cascades from the top. On clear days you'll be able to see from Rainier to the Sisters. The foreground is dominated by clear cuts, however. The hike is roughly divided into thirds: the first third is relatively flat and easy along the former access road; the second third includes some very rocky sections as it passes a number of cool rock formations and Table Rock's cliffs; and the last third summits Table Rock on smooth trail.
No parking fee required.
This trail is in the Table Rock Wilderness Area administered by the BLM. Wilderness rules apply.
There is a parking area with room for ~15 cars and a lot more space along the road for additional vehicles. On nice summer weekends expect to see over 20 vehicles parked. There is a single outhouse and an informational sign at the beginning of the trail.
The trail begins heading north along the old access road, which was shut by a landslide in 1996. This road section isn't very interesting and can feel quite long on the way back. However, it is also very easy going and helps knock out ~300 feet of barely-noticeable elevation gain. You'll only leave the road at about a third of a mile to bypass the landslide until 1.3 miles where you get to leave the road for good.
After the road slog the trail thankfully enters lovely forest (largely burned in the 1880s so don't expect any giant old growth). You'll gain elevation at a nice grade as the trail meanders past a number of cool rock formations. At about 2 miles you'll come to the first rocky section and a cool set of basalt rock spires that were once volcanic vents.
The trail wraps up and around these spires. In another third of a mile the trail enters a large talus field at the base of Table Rock's columnar basalt cliffs. Keep an eye out for pika among the rocks. This section of the trail requires careful footing and can be moderately difficult to navigate but is one of the most interesting parts of the hike. The trail then wraps around Table Rock to access the gentler slope of the southwestern face.
At the southwestern edge of Table Rock there is a small open spot that almost looks like a campsite. The Saddle Trail
to Rooster Rock can be found here if you look hard. Most people will never even notice this intersection as they begin the final ascent up Table Rock on a set of switchbacks. These switchbacks keep the grade moderate enough. Finally the trail reaches the edge of the cliffs and the views open up! You can continue up to the true summit with a marker and a few nicely sheltered campsites.
Enjoy the views before returning the way you came.