Escape the crowded city and enjoy some mountainous open space with a quick trip to Spruce Mountain. Despite its proximity to I-25, this area feels remote, nestled among 17,000 acres of preserved open space and conservation easements. The trails offer many viewpoints of nearby buttes, the Palmer Divide and Rampart Range. Although there may be a few spruces on the mountain, the landscape is dominated by Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir. Young Douglas fir appear spruce-like, with the typical Christmas tree shape.
To get there, head north on I-25 to exit 163 for Palmer Drive/County Line Road. Drive west for about 2 ½ miles, then make a sharp right turn, heading northeast on Spruce Mountain Road for about 3 ½ miles to the Spruce Mountain trailhead parking area on the west side.
From the lot, begin your hike. Bear left and then right on the Oak Cutoff trail that leads up through a Gambel’s Oak woodland for about one-quarter mile to the Pine Junction intersection. Bear left and climb a few switchbacks to a flatter area that leads in about one-half mile to the Greenland Overlook with a sweeping view of Greenland Open Space. Continue for about another one-half mile to the Upper Loop Junction and bear left, heading westward on the Upper Loop Trail. After about 1 mile, you’ll reach Windy Point Overlook, at 7,605 feet, with stellar views of the Rampart Range and Pikes Peak.
The trail makes a U-turn and swings eastward for about one-half mile to a T-junction. Turn left on the service road that cuts back to the west and drops down for one-half mile to Eagle Pass Trail. Turn right and stay on the main Eagle Pass Trail, heading eastward for about 2 miles back to the parking area. This section is relatively flat terrain through grassland, with fine views of Eagle Mountain to the north. Nesting boxes have been set up along the trail, so be on the lookout for bluebirds and swallows that have moved in for the summer.
Joe LaFleur has lived in southern Colorado since 2016 and is a hiking enthusiast who hits the trails weekly. Contact Joe with questions or feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hiking is great exercise, but can be hazardous. Always be sure to plan well, check the weather, bring a printed map, tell someone where and when you are going, and contact them when you return safely.