Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hiking the Monument Rock Loop

Colorado Springs has been hit by thunderstorms nearly every afternoon this summer. My lawn and garden are loving it, but the weather can throw a wrench in our hiking plans. I picked up my hiking buddy and her baby earlier today to try to beat the heat and rain as we hiked the Monument Rock Loop trail.

Why is it called Monument Rock Loop, you ask?

That's why.

This trail is located in the Monument Preserve, part of the Pike National Forest. For directions, check out The Gazette. The hike begins with a gradual incline through shady ponderosa pine trees. Although there are several shortcuts through the forest, if you stick to the path on the right of the trailhead sign, jogging left a bit at the dirt road at 0.75 miles to pick up the trail again on the other side of the road, you will end up doing a 2.5 mile loop.

At around the halfway point, you'll reach Monument Rock. It was alone in the middle of a meadow, but it looked like it should belong in Garden of the Gods.

That's a little bench on the right with a clear view of the city of Monument to the East.

We wondered if it's legal to climb this thing.

Today was such a gorgeous day! Everything must be so green because of all the rain.

There are several paths surrounding the rock, but take the one Southeast of it to stay on the loop. At this point, we came across dozens of little paths leading off of the main trail. We were somehow lapped by a runner, twice, and he eventually took one of these little paths, but our curiosity was overcome by our sore backs (those babies are getting heavy) so we didn't stray.

Here is an old stone root cellar.

This hike was great for baby-toting; we hardly climbed in elevation at all! Most of the 200-foot elevation gain came at the last quarter mile or so.

What a beautiful escape only 30 minutes from my home in Northeast Colorado Springs. We'll definitely be visiting the Monument Preserve again. Here's the added bonus: Baby always takes an AWESOME nap after we go hiking, even though she's just being carried around like a little queen!

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