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.
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.
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