Colorado, Travels

Colorado Day Hikes: Spruce Mountain

How in the world does one meet people and make friends as an adult?

It’s a question I grappled with when we first arrived in Denver. This wasn’t the first time I’d ever moved to a new state; but the big difference between previous moves and this one is that I was moving for school, meaning I was guaranteed to meet a bunch of people right away.

Then we moved to Denver and it was only June and my job didn’t start until late August, and I realized I needed to figure out a way to meet people. I’m reasonably introverted and I’m definitely not the type to go out to bars or other large social gatherings. Walking up to a random person and introducing myself also isn’t really my style.

Thank goodness for the internet. Chelsea (from Colorado Chelsea) and I connected through our blogs last fall and, after realizing we only lived about an hour away from each other, decided to meet up for a hike at Spruce Mountain… and subsequently a couple other hikes in recent months.

Chelsea actually wrote up a whole summary of this hike many months ago (read it here… and you should check out the rest of her blog as well!) but at the time I was still right in the middle of recounting my adventures from 2018 so I’m only now getting around to posting about this one.

Spruce Mountain is one of many mesas that rise from the plains in the area between Denver and Colorado Springs. As you drive along this section of I-25 between the two cities, the unique topography is very apparent. Further east in Colorado the landscape is very flat, but the transition between towering mountains to level plains is marked by a region of mesas and other formations that in certain places almost resembles the Badlands of South Dakota.

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Spruce Mountain is protected within the 1000+ acre Spruce Mountain Open Space. This Douglas County park is free to visit and is a great place for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. From the parking lot, Chelsea and I headed up the Eagle Pass trail before cutting across to the Spruce Mountain trail. Based on the names of the trails, one might expect to encounter spruce trees and the occasional eagle on this hike. We didn’t see a single spruce tree (all the conifers were either fir or pine), but we did see an immature bald eagle soar overhead from one of the viewpoints.

The trail doesn’t reach the true high point of Spruce Mountain; rather, it encircles the summit and periodically opens up to expansive views of the cliffs below, the surrounding mesas, and Pikes Peak.

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Unique rock formations, with Pikes Peak in the distance

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(Photo by Chelsea)

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We completed the loop and made our way back to the trailhead. On the descent, we took the Oak Shortcut trail (an official, established trail, despite its name), a shorter but steeper path connecting the Spruce Mountain Loop to the parking lot. This trail and some of the more shaded sections of the loop trail were icy at times; winter made a rather early arrival to Colorado last year.

This will be the final post of my 2019 adventures, so next week’s Colorado Day Hikes post will be all about our first hike of 2020. Stay tuned!


The Important Stuff:

  • Getting there: the parking lot for Spruce Mountain Open Space is located on Spruce Mountain Road about 5 miles (8 km) south of Larkspur, Colorado
  • Fees and passes: none
  • Hiking: there are 8.5 miles (13.7 km) of trails here; we hiked the ~5.5 mile (8.9 km) Spruce Mountain Loop
  • Where to stay: camping is not allowed at Spruce Mountain Open Space, but there are a handful of campgrounds within a few miles and this trail is within easy driving distance of Denver and Colorado Springs, which have many lodging options
  • Other: horseback riding and biking are allowed at Spruce Mountain; on multi-use trails, the appropriate etiquette for yielding is as follows: (1) bikers yield to hikers and (2) all users yield to horses (i.e. horses always have the right-of-way); also, uphill traffic has the right-of-way and downhill users should yield

8 thoughts on “Colorado Day Hikes: Spruce Mountain”

  1. I’m doing the catch up thing again … and wanted to say how pretty that area is! I love big mountains but foothills and transitional areas (especially those with unique rock formations) are always great to hike.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is! I’m constantly guilty of discounting foothills hikes as lame or boring… and the foothills constantly remind me that I need to stop thinking that.

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  2. Hiking and camping are great ways to meet people, but Thebeerchaser – now having visited and reviewed 375 bars and breweries since 2011 throughout the US and some in Europe – would assert that a good dive bar is not like a social gathering and a good place to meet new people.

    Unfortunately, one cannot do it now, but whenever we hit a new establishment, my wife and I always sit at the bar rather than a table and start talking to the bartender. Almost without exception some regulars or other people sitting near who may be traveling, will join the conversation. And contrary to the stereotype, regulars in 9 out of 10 bars rather than being hostile to strangers, open up if give the opportunity.

    We have met some wonderful people and although very few became long-term friends, we still have contact with a number of them electronically. Give it a try. I’ll bet you an Oregon microbrew that you will enjoy it! Cheers

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  3. No handstands! Yes I agree it’s hard to make friends as an adult. I have made most of mine through a Zumba class, which resulted in a book club and from that a games night, which is so much fun.

    Like

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