Sunday, August 5, 2012

Spruce Mountain

A walk in the woods to me is an exploration of myself because no matter how busy the world seems, when I take the time to walk in the woods I reconnect with who I truly am.  I take the time to appreciate the beauty that the natural world holds for me & I understand the glory of watching a hawk soar & I know that through nature we are all connected.  Each journey I’ve embarked on is unique in its own way & I hope  that the joy I find in each hike inspires you to get out & enjoy everything the natural world has to explore. 

This month’s hike is Spruce Mountain.

Getting there: Spruce Mountain is south of the Denver metro area, go south on I-25 to the Greenland exit (167), turn right (west) at the end of the ramp, you’ll snake around & cross a couple railroad tracks before coming to a stop sign at Spruce Mountain road, turn left (South) & travel about ¼ of a mile parking & the trailhead are on your right.  This is a popular place to go, to get a parking spot I would suggest arriving before 10:00am. 

The Details: The hike is approximately 5.5 miles in a nice loop, the hike begins at approximately 7,100 feet, the highest point is approximately 7,500 feet for a total elevation gain of 400 feet.  This hike will take you 2.5 to 3 hours at a comfortable pace.  Dogs are allowed on a leash. 

The journey:  The trailhead is at the end of the parking lot, we headed due west along a well defined trail for approximately 1/3 of a mile then we turned left & began the ascent to the top of Spruce Mountain.  Within a few hundred feet of the turn you are welcomed by a forest full of pine trees. This hike is a perfect place if you enjoy the smell of pine trees, the entire hike weaves in & out of the pines forest.
The trail up to the top is easy to follow & there are several switchbacks to make the climb even easier.  Along the way you have beautiful views of the Front Range & there are many places to pull off the trail & take in the valley & mountains around you.

Once you’ve reached the top (approximately 1.5 miles) you are on a wonderful flattop mountain.  The next 2.5 miles is just a magnificent stroll along this large flattop mountain.  The views on every side are incredible & the walk along this path is easy & enjoyable. 
To the South you have views of Pike’s Peak.

  To the south a beautiful valley & the foothills

& to the north more views of the Front Range

This experience was one of my favorite hikes so far, overall it’s a hike that anyone can do even though it’s 5.5 miles.  I would suggest to pack a picnic lunch & sit up top halfway through your hike & enjoy the views.
At the end of the loop you’ll need to take a sharp left to head back down the mountain.  There is a trail sign at this point but it points to the right for those coming up the mountain.  As you continue back down the mountain you’ll come across a point about halfway where you can go to the left or to the right.  The left trail will lead you back to where you came up the mountain, the right trail is an easy decent back to the parking lot. 

Till next time,


Deer Creek Canyon

The journey I take when I walk through the woods is more to me than just the discovery of the beauty of nature, it is truly the discovery of myself.  For when I walk amongst the natural world I find a quiet & peace within me that I know nowhere else.
This month’s journey is to a beautiful place in Jefferson County , Deer Creek Canyon.  To get there take C-470 to Wadsworth Avenue South, turn right at South Deer Creek Canyon Road go approximately 4 miles to Grizzly Drive turn left and wind your way for ¼ to a ½ of mile to the parking (on your right).
The trails we took again created our own loop the total hike is approximately 2.7 miles, it begins at an elevation of 5,950 & peaks at a height of 6,450.  The total elevation gain is 500 feet & it’s a glorious romp through the foothills that gives you amazing views of the Front Range, Denver & the surrounding Deer Creek Canyon area.  I would consider this hike an urban hike as it’s nestled in a neighborhood but rarely do you see the homes, businesses or any reference to the neighborhood.
On this trail you are allowed to bring your dogs as long as they are leashed.  We began on the Meadowlark Trial which starts right from the parking area & heads west into the foothills. The trail winds through the hills & in & out of pines & gamble oaks.  The elevation gain begins after about ½ a mile but because of the switchbacks & winding trail in general you don’t really feel the elevation gain like so many other trails. The red rocks on the walls of the canyon around this area are beautiful anytime of the year but I love the way the white snow sets off the colors all around you.
The Meadowlark trail is only open to hikers so there’s no concern on this part of the trail for bikers or people on horseback.  After continuing for about a mile you reach the highest point of this hike the views all around you are amazing as you can see most of the Front Range as well as Denver.

Once you’ve taken in the views from the top you begin to slowly move back down.  You’ll leave any thought of being in an urban neighborhood behind as you wind between two hills & into an alpine forest.  At the end of the Meadowlark trail you’ll cross a bridge & turn to your left.  The evergreen trees envelop you as you start back towards the parking lot. In addition to the evergreens you have sections of the trail that have large boulders.  You follow this section of the trail for approximately ½ a mile once you leave the forest behind.  You’ll have a hard turn to your left.  This section of the trail isn’t well marked ahead is Plymouth Creek Trail which Meadowlark trail runs right into if you continue straight you’ll  continue back up a steep climb. 
Instead, follow the Plymouth Creek trail back to your left & you’ll wind your way back to the parking lot in just over a mile.

This hike was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours.  We enjoyed the views & the topography of this hike a lot.  I encourage you to check it out when you have a chance.

Till next time,