Friday, May 13, 2016

New Hikes

From Windy Point On Spruce Mountain, Looking South.
With Spring (mostly) in the air, it is time to find some good walks within an hours drive of Castle Rock, so I can get out and build up some trail-ready cardio and get some badly needed vitamin D. I used here to provide the links and routes.
On each hike I carry water and food, my ultralight day pack, wear a wide brimmed hat and carry a walking pole. I also cover up with long sleeves and wear sun screen. The 10 Essentials are always with me.
The Mount Herman Trail is a 2.2 mile out & back trail, rated moderate that includes some beautiful wildflowers and a healthy climb. The trail is lightly used. You can reach Monument Rock from here. The Trailhead is located along Mt. Herman road, about 5 miles west of Monument, CO which is off exit #161 on I-25.  Drive west through town on 2nd Street, turning left onto Mitchell Road, then right onto Mount Herman Road. Mount Herman Trailhead is on your left at Nursery Road. For a cool almost-all-day mountain drive, head West on Mount Herman Road in your 4-wheel drive vehicle to Rampart Range Road, then turn right and follow back North to Highway 67, turn right to Sedalia.
Dawson Butte Ranch Open Space Trail is a 4.9 mile well-signed loop trail that runs through flowers, meadow and forest. It is situated east of Highway 105 and has some traffic noise from Tomah Road and surrounding properties. Dogs must be on a leash. This is a good loop trail to repeat for 10 or 15 miles if you are in trail-training mode. The elevation gain is moderate. Wear your backpack and bring lots of water. Getting there is easy, take exit #181 from I-25 onto Plum Creek Parkway and follow the west frontage road south beside I-25 to Tomah Road. Turn east and follow to the top of the ridge, Dawson Butte Trailhead is on your right.
Spruce Mountain Open Space Trail is one of my favorites. The circular 5.9 mile trail leads you through meadows and over Eagle Mountain Pass in a loop to the west side of Spruce Mountain, then turn left and climb up a steep jeep road to the top of the mountain. Turn right onto the top loop trail and follow around to the trail back down the mountain. Along the way you pass Windy Point, some picnic tables, cool overlooks, then follow the trail back down to your car. This is another good looping trail. Exit I-25 south at #173 for Larkspur. Watch your speed here. Follow Spruce Mountain Road south through town and climb back up to the meadows. Once you pass Noe Road, look for the Spruce Mountain Trailhead on your right.
Lincoln Mountain Open Space Loop is a 4.2 climb to the top of a mesa and back to your car in southern Douglas County. The walk is moderate and it follows through flowered meadows. Last Spring the wildflowers here were awesome! Exit I-25 at #163 and turn left. Drive east to highway 83. Turn left and head north. Turn left onto East Jones Road, follow across Cherry Creek and turn right into the trailhead.
Castlewood Canyon State Park Inner Canyon Loop Trail is a 6 mile moderate trail.  Busy most weekends, this trail is almost empty during weekdays. Dogs must be leashed. Enter the park from highway 86, just west of Franktown, CO. Park at the North Castlewood Canyon Road parking lot inside the park, the second, third or fourth parking area on the left. Follow the access trail east to Cherry Creek, then follow the loop to your right. Climb beside the remains of the historic dam, loop the lake above the dam and return along the climb up to the Rim Rock Trail, dropping back down to cross the creek to return to your start. Watch for rattlesnakes here! Exit I-25 at Castle Rock #184, go left onto highway 86 and follow to the ridge top, where you turn left at a light to continue East along highway 86. Drop down the mesa and look for the right turn just prior to Cherry Creek onto North Castlewood Canyon Road. Follow to the entrance, pay the fee to the ranger and park. The park is open from 8 AM to 7 PM and costs $7 for the daily pass.
I will see you on the trails!

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