Bob Hike: Hike on the Spanish West Peak; National Day of Public Lands; Week without a trace; Shelf Road Survey | Hiking bob

Access a National Park Service site for free on National Public Lands Day

An iconic sight, the Spanish Peaks of East and West dominate Southeast Colorado, enticing people to hike, camping, fishing, backpacking, and even gazing at the leaves. . There are many trails around both peaks, including one to the summit of West Spanish Peak, which at 13,626 feet is the easternmost peak in the United States. No peak in the east is higher.

WestPeak Trailhead Sign

The trail to the top of West Spanish Peak begins at the top of Cordova Pass. The West Trail hike is deceptively easy for about 3 miles as it winds through tall pines and past some breathtaking views. Then when the trail comes out of the treeline at the base of the towering peak, things change. From there the “trail,” if you can call it that, climbs to 1,800 feet in just under a mile on a route of boulders ranging from the size of a fist to a letterbox, each one just waiting to come out from under you and make you wonder why you are there.

The road to the top is steep and difficult, however, there are some well-placed cairns that make finding your way a bit easier. On the perilous return of the descent, you can more easily spot the trail. Near the summit the trail reaches a saddle west of the current summit and from there follows a slightly less rigorous trail along the ridge line to the summit. The top, marked by a big pile of boulders, is a great place to sit, have lunch, plan your descent and contemplate what made you lose your mind and try this hike (I did this twice so I I question my own sanity).

Panorama of western spanish summit

Here is a panoramic view to the north from West Spanish Peak. The peak is can be seen in the distance to the right.

Why do it, you ask? Well, first “because it’s there”, of course. Isn’t that why we do almost any hike or climb? But, after getting past that bit of madness, the second reason is the point of view. Not only are the 360 ​​degree views, as you would expect, absolutely breathtaking, but looking towards the base of the mountain you can see rocky ‘fins’ radiating, much like the rays of the sun, around. du Pic. It’s a pretty impressive sight. And finally, there is the personal challenge, which is why I have made this peak more than once.

Things you should know: West Peak Trail # 1390 begins on the north side of Forest Service Road 46, at the top of Cordova Pass and across from the Pass Campground. Usage fees of $ 7 per day apply. There are pit toilets available, but no water or garbage cans.

The trail enters the wilderness of the Spanish Peaks after approximately 0.25 km from the trailhead. Travel is authorized on foot or on horseback only; no bicycles or motorized vehicles are allowed. Dogs are allowed. On my recent visit there were loose cattle on the trail about 0.4 miles from the trailhead so dogs are advised to be on a leash and trekking poles are a necessity on this getaway. At a little over 1.5 km, at the bend of a bend, the Apishapa trail cuts off to the right. Turn left into the switchback to continue to the top.

To succeed: From Walsenburg take highway 160 west for approximately 18 km to highway 12. Head south approximately 35 km through the towns of La Veta and Cuchara, and at the top of the Cuchara pass turn left onto County Road 46 / Forest Service Road 46 About 6 miles later you will come to the top of Cordova Pass. FSR 46 is a dirt road and is passable by almost anyone other than the most low-profile vehicles.

Saturday, September 25 is National Public Lands Day, the country’s largest one-day volunteer event for public lands. In addition, entrance fees to all National Park Service sites are waived for the day.

A calendar of events for Colorado Springs No Trace Hotspot Week

Colorado Springs parks and open spaces will host Leave No Trace “hot spots” from October 14-17. A team from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics will join with park rangers and local park and recreation advocates to provide area visitors, land managers, volunteers and the local community with information, services and an education that reduces external impacts and promotes responsible leisure. The team will focus on reducing impacts in Palmer Park and Stratton Open Space, ”according to a press release from the city.

I will be leading the Nature Photography Hike at the Stratton Open Space on October 16, where I will demonstrate how to photograph nature while putting the principles of Leave No Trace into practice. For more information on the hotspots, see the links in the attached PDF. For more on Leave No Trace, listen to my podcast with Park Ranger Supervisor Gillian Rossi.

Investigation of the roads of the plateau

The Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI) and the Royal Gorge office of the Bureau of Land Management are conducting a user survey to gather information on the current use, satisfaction and needs of the Shelf Road Recreation Area, in north of Cañon City. A similar survey was conducted in 2014 and the results were used to inform management decisions and improvements to amenities and facilities on Shelf Road. To complete the survey, go to the FIRI website.

Be wise. Do good things. Leaves no trace.