Monday, October 16, 2017

Top of the world views nearby

Spruce Mountain: Locals love looking out from the overlooks

By Rob Carrigan,

The large, tree-covered mesa known as Spruce Mountain is a popular local track for hikers, horses, bikers and more. Visible from Interstate I-25, Spruce Mountain Road, County Line Road, and Highway 105, it is part of an important wildlife corridor allowing travel between the Pike National Forest and Greenland Open Space and Greenland Ranch. Douglas County has created over 8.5 miles of recreational trails on the property.
The Spruce Mountain Trail gently switchbacks up Spruce Mountain through a ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forest up to rocky overlooking vistas and a loop around the fairly-flat, forested mountaintop. Lookouts offer breathtaking views of Greenland Open Space, surrounding buttes, Pikes Peak, the Palmer Divide, Carpenter Creek and thousands of acres of protected open space. There are plenty of lookouts, ridges and meadows from over eight miles of trails. For variety, descend on the service road, hike the loop to the west, and hike back along the Eagle Pass trail, says information from Douglas County Open Space and Natural Resources.

* 8.5 miles of trails. Staying low on the easy Eagle Pass Trail will take you along the edges of forests and meadows. Moderately easy hikes to the upper loop will gently climb through shady forests to a wide and gentle trail that circles the top of the mountain. Small children commonly hike it, but keep an eye on them at the rocky lookouts. Ice and snow can build up on the shaded trails on the northern climb. The east end of the Service Road that Descends Spruce Mountain can be difficult, since it is steep and usually quite rutted. The western loop of the Eagle Pass Trail and the Service Road are moderately easy.
* Trail Length, It is about 5.5 miles from Spruce Mountain Road parking lot, around the Upper Loop, and a roundtrip back. You can add on another couple of miles to include the meadows and beautifully forested Eagle Ridge on the west side of Eagle Pass Trail and the Service Road.
* An interpretive kiosk and a port-a-potty are available in the parking lot trailhead, which accommodates cars and light trucks only. Trailers may be parked at the large Spruce Meadows Trailhead along Noe Road to the northeast. There is no water available at this site. Water is available a spigot at the nearby Greenland Open Space Trailhead.

Location: 13415 Spruce Mountain Road, Larkspur, CO. From I-25, take the Greenland Exit (167) to the west and travel ¼ mile west on Greenland Road and ½ mile south. Bypass the Greenland Trailhead and continue right on the main gravel road (Noe Road) over two sets of railroad tracks. (If you have a horse trailer or very large vehicle, park at the Spruce meadows parking lot on your left and take the 2-mile trail to Spruce Mountain.) Vehicles without trailers can continue another mile west on Noe Road to Spruce Mountain Road. Take a left and head south for about one mile to the parking area on your right. Or, cars can exit at Larkspur and go south six miles to Spruce Mountain Road to the entrance on the right.

Contact: Douglas County Open Space and Natural Resources at 303.660.7495.

Year acquired: 2003 – 231 acres fee simple, 2008 – 662 acres fee simple, 2008 – 458 acres conservation easement
Acres:  893 acres Fee simple; 458 acres in conservation easement
Land Category:  Preserve/Wildlife habitat
Conservation Tool: Fee Title & Conservation Easement
Cost: $8,985,000 Douglas County, $250,000 Great Outdoors Colorado, $1,875,000 United States Department of Agriculture – grant pending
Partners: Great Outdoors Colorado, The Conservation Fund, Douglas County, private conservation buyers. United States Department of Agriculture and Colorado State Forest Service
Location: Three and half miles north of Palmer Lake. Six miles south of Larkspur, with access along Spruce Mountain Road. The property is located between Perry Park Road and Spruce Mountain Road, south of Noe Road in the South I-25 Conservation Corridor.

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