Saturday, April 30, 2011

Spruce Mountain Trail/Rock Park

The weather fooled everyone again today, and the forecast rainy conditions were nowhere to be seen. So I took advantage of an invitation from Denver Hiking Examiner Deb Stanley to join her group the Denver Trail Heads for a hike. Actually a double hike -- Spruce Mountain Trail near Larkspur followed by a quick trip to the top of Castle Rock.

Rock formations like this should really have names, but I don't think this one did.

This one either, but it still looked pretty cool.

There were a lot of places to catch a glimpse of Pikes Peak to the south. Unfortunately one major stopping point had quite a bit of tagging that apparently had happened about a month ago. Someone wisely noted that you don't see much vandalism in areas that are actually hard work to get to.

Dead trees usually seem to frame things nicely in photos.

Here's most of the group hanging out at the place with all the tagging. Thirteen people actually came out for this one -- nice bunch of folks, too.

I imagine if you're an avid hiker, having a plaque in your name along a trail would be a pretty nice honor. It's a shame Mr. Paddock isn't around to appreciate it.

More cool outcroppings, again framing Pikes Peak in the distance. I didn't seem to have my polarizing filter set as well for some of the later shots as I did for the early ones, so the blue skies aren't as deep.

I'll bet the colors at this spot are pretty amazing at sunrise and sunset.

After a hearty Mexican lunch in Castle Pines, it was back down to Castle Rock for a quick hike to the top. The skies had unfortunately gotten considerably cloudier in the interim, but at least it wasn't raining or snowing.

The final scramble to the top is interesting, with not so much a trail as a route that's less challenging than other options.

By the time we headed back to the parking lot it had been seven hours since we first met that morning. A full day and a fun one, and I'm looking forward to more excursions with the group in the future!

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