HAPPY TRAILS: SPRUCE MOUNTAIN LOOP, LARKSPUR
Spruce Mountain Open Space has a bit of everything - panoramic mountain views, sweet pine forest and patches of wildflowers. From the parking lot are three trailheads. Take the middle one for the Spruce Mountain Loop. You'll walk nearly a half-mile and come to a fork. Go left into the ponderosa pine and fir woods.
Head up a few mild switchbacks with peeks at the coming vistas.
Nearly 1.5 miles along, the trail flattens on top of Spruce Mountain. Spend some time on the rocky overlooks and catch a glimpse of Pikes Peak. Elevation gain is minimal for the rest of the trail, which loops around the top of the mesa for 2.8 miles. At the halfway point in the loop, the trees open up for expansive views of the surrounding valley and mesas. There are plenty of rocks and twisted trees to climb around and explore!
A few benches and picnic tables are provided, so consider packing a snack to enjoy with the sweeping landscape. With the mild elevation gain, this trail is perfect for families with kids.
Trip log: 5.5 miles round trip (loop), 730-foot elevation gain, 7,421 max elevation
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Getting there: From Interstate 25 north, take exit 163. Turn left onto County Line Road. Turn right after the railroad tracks onto Spruce Mountain Road. Follow for about 4 miles. The parking lot will be on the left. It does fill up quickly in the morning and afternoon but additional parking is available down the road.
FYI: Humans, horses and leashed pets welcome. This area is home to mountain lions, rattlesnakes and bears so always stay alert.
Hannah Fleace, The Gazette