This week’s hike drew me to lovely Larkspur, Colorado—a location that, prior to this week, I had never really given much thought. Other than an exit on I-25 that signaled I had officially left the Colorado Springs area and the completely amazing Colorado Renaissance Festival held there every year (which you all should attend next summer), I just wasn’t aware of all that Larkspur had to offer. However, after visiting Spruce Mountain Open Space, I now realize just how beautiful this small community is.
When heading to the trailhead, just make sure that you end up in the right place, which will be a parking lot that is bordered by a small forest and a large outcropping of rocks. If you arrive at a large, dirt parking lot that is surrounded by miles and miles of plains, you haven’t gone far enough and need to continue down Noe Road—unless you’d rather hike amongst long, itchy grasses and a bunch of aggressive cattle (not sure if they were actually aggressive or I was just afraid, but they were definitely giving us dirty looks).
Once you have arrived at the correct lot, the trails are clearly marked and very easy to follow. There are several routes to choose from, all of varying lengths and intensities, but my party decided on the namesake Spruce Mountain Trail. About 6.5 miles in length, the trail offers a sizable hike and panoramic views of the surrounding plains, towns and mountainscape.
While moderate, the trail certainly offers a good deal of cardio as you ascend the small mountain by way of numerous switchbacks. However, the views are beautiful and only get better as you continue up the trail, which provides ample motivation. While lovely scenery is a staple of Colorado hiking, this particular trail puts the convergence of plains and mountains on full display, allowing hikers to appreciate not only pretty views, but the unique geology that has molded our beautiful state’s history and identity. Blue-green tree covered rocks rise out of seas of golden wild grasses, increasing in frequency until the mighty mountains appear and dominate the landscape.
On the way back down, we decided to take the service road and Eagle Pass Trail as suggested by the map, and this proved to be a great decision. While the roads were in rough shape, they allowed us to catch great views of beautiful and rugged Eagle Pass and then brought us back to the trailhead where we began. In total, the hike took us about two hours, making it a great option for those seeking a somewhat brief jaunt in the wilderness.
As it is about 15 minutes off of I-25, this hike is an ideal stop for those making a trip south. It’s just a quick drive out of your way and a great way to spend a few hours appreciating the beauty of southern Colorado.