I took my Sunday-afternoon hike at Spruce Mountain Open Space, north of Palmer Lake. It was a stunning day, near 60° and sunny, and there were quite a few people about. This is my favorite hiking spot so far. The views in every direction were amazing. I’m still not used to living in the West, so I still take photos of every butte and cliff and vista.
The trail was snow covered on the north side of the mountain. This presented no problem going up, but I almost lost it twice on the way back down.
The view from the east end of the mountain, with the parking lot/trailhead on the left and Pike Peak in the right distance. The elevation gain was 388 feet. The string of hills in the distance make up the Palmer Divide, which separates the watersheds of the Missouri and Arkansas Rivers. I’m pretty sure one of them in the distance is Lincoln Mountain, where I hiked last Sunday.
Trains go back and forth beneath the mountain on a regular basis.
The top of the mountain was covered in pine woods with rock outcropping throughout and around the edge.
A flock of Pygmy Nuthatches kept me company for a while.
There was a large outcropping on the west end, giving great views south, west and north.
Looking south, the long, low ridge is Ben Lomand Mountain, with Palmer Lake on the right. Behind that is Mount Herman, with Pikes Peak in the distance.
Looking north toward the Front Range and Denver.
The tallest peak in that photo is Mount Evans. Here’s a close-up.
Of all the hikes I’ve taken so far east of the Ramparts, this is definitely my favorite. Even with the crowds, I was able to find a rock outcropping on the south side where I sat and relaxed for a half hour.