If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains, you’re lucky enough!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Limbaugh Canyon Loop

Back in May we did a little experimentation on Trail 715 leading out of the Monument Fire Center up onto the flanks of Mount Herman.  We have been looking to get back out and do a loop around to the south, over the saddle, and down through Limbaugh Canyon to complete a circumnavigation around Mount Herman.  Thanks to some fantastic trail data from our friend Jon, we finally made it out for the loop today.  Not knowing what to fully expect for a completed loop mileage, we hit the trails fairly early with some cool breeze and mild temps.  Though we have mountain biked Limbaugh before, the route we took for that was quite a bit different.
Kathleen ascends Trail 715 with Monument, CO below
Up into the scrub oak zone, before the forest begins
Dense Gambles (scrub oak) blanket the lower hillsides of Mount Herman

We made our way through the Fire Center and over to the bottom portion of Trail 715.  This trail makes up the "spine" of a large portion of the loop around Mt Herman.  The majority of the first 6 miles is climbing, broken into two very significant pushes to gain the ridge before dropping into Limbaugh Canyon.  The first segment climbs the lower flanks of the mountain before dropping into the Beaver Creek drainage.
Kathleen climbing through the forest
Looking south from the ridge across ranch land to the US Air Force Academy
Dropping in to the drainage

There was a tricky turn down the hillside that we missed on our recon run in May - thanks to Jon, no problem this time.  We dropped in to Beaver Creek and discovered an awesome little section that we would have never thought existed back here.  There was lots of dense vegetation, plenty of shade, and several crossings of Beaver Creek.  
Trail 715 crosses the creek

After the first crossing, it was back to climbing and this one was steeper than the initial push.  After crossing the creek several times and then Mt Herman road, we continued on 715 for one final push to gain the ridge above Limbaugh Canyon.  Now it was time to drop into the canyon for one of the cooler trails in the area.  Limbaugh has everything from super steep, loose descents in dense forest to flowing rollers through lush open meadows full of dense vegetation as it follows the Monument Creek drainage down into Palmer Lake.
Steve rolls through the forest on Limbaugh
Aspens and singletrack - sweet!
Open meadow with Mt Herman rising up behind

It has been many years since I have been back in this canyon (although Kathleen has been through more than I over the years) and we'll just say less time will pass before the next trip.  Pristine singletrack and lush surroundings lend to an atypical setting for our alpine desert climate.  Need to add a quick note too:  Jon and his wife, who we'll call the Trail Queen, have helped organize a lot of trail work in this area with many hours put in by local Boy Scouts and other volunteer groups.  The work shows, as Limbaugh was in better shape than we have ever witnessed - GREAT WORK!

Little video work from Kathleen
Nice pools on Monument Creek
Oasis in the canyon

It is too bad this spot above was still a ways from the finish of the loop - these pools would make an awesome place for a cold soak to start the leg recovery!  Since water is scarce in these parts, this creek provides the life force for all of the beautiful scenery in the canyon.  From here, we ascended the eastern ridge to make our way around the northern side of Mt Herman.  After climbing a bit through the trees, you round a corner to this:
Inspiration Point

The trail rounds a bend and there, 900 or so vertical feet below lies the town of Palmer Lake.  Quite a view!  Spruce Mountain and Greenland Open Space are in the far distance.  Now it was time for a quick drop and then up onto the eastern side of the mountain.  The exit from Limbaugh has been a land use controversy for years (thanks to ONE single landowner with a stick in his behind) and this was our first trip on the re-route trail that was cut to avoid Mr Cranky's wrath.  The trail was as expected - awesome.  Tough in spots and technical, but absolutely smile-inducing the whole way across.  After navigating across the contour above Palmer Lake, we dropped out of the forest onto Mt Herman road and crossed back into the Fire Center.  We made our way past Monument Rock and down to the trailhead for our first completed loop around the mountain.  Loop was 14.25 miles with around 3400' accumulated elevation gain.  The experience can't be captured in numbers.  We're already up for another shot and thinking of a couple trails we could add to up the ante a bit.  If you're interested, come run it with us!  Hope everyone has had an awesome weekend - Happy Trails!

Shoes - K Asics 2150 Trail
S - La Sportiva Wildcat

Almost forgot - here is the profile of the run from SportTracks:

20 comments:

Julie said...

Hi guys! Oh, I love this weekends Linbaugh Canyon Loop! Looking at the Aspen trees reminds me of growing up and spending time in our pasture:) It looks like you had a beautiful but challenging run! Thanks for sharing the great pictures! I always look forward to your posts:)

Jennifer said...

Sweet! What lovely runs, great terrain. We don't have rocks in Mississippi, at least not in the southern half of the state. Sounds weird but it's true.

Meg said...

K- Awesome video of Steve running, I was worried that you'd have to kick some tail to catch up with him!! He was moving...I really loved the wildflowers, too.
Hey, cute new skirt! I haven't seen that one, very preppy :) !

Jill said...

I don't think my SUV would make it up that steep mountain, good golly you guys are just tough!!! Nice job! I definitely want to hit that up sometime...maybe next year as we (and in you guys and me) train for Pikes Peak next year, ok? Ok!!

Have a great week guys!!!

Johann said...

That profile looks scary! You run on the most beautiful trails. Thanks for all the pics as well. Another lovely run!

ajh said...

Particularly love the picture of Kathleen in the meadow with Mt. Herman in the background. You two certainly know how to have a good time!

Kathleen, I knew you would like the shopping part of my post! We have a spirit week every year at school and one year it was dress like an athlete and I wore my running clothes and was in heaven!!! Sadly the students haven't picked that one again. Crazy hair and hat day always wins out.

misszippy said...

I just found your blog--what amazing running terrain you have! So beautiful and I'm sure you are both studs for handling all that elevation on a regular basis.

ShutUpandRun said...

Again you astound me with your strong trail runs. This one looks perfect.

Glenn Jones said...

I am so jealous of the beauty you get to run in. Here in Southern California everything has turned summer brown...

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

There's just something about creeks - great picture and nice video, too. Another great run with a big climb!

Ace said...

Awesome trail. As usual, another awesome place to run, that I had no clue was there. Thanks!

Jennifer said...

Yes, smooth trails. Even around streams and rivers we have no rocks but we have sand bars. A very different looking landscape, down in the southern half of the state. What's nice about sand bars is that you can canoe all you want and set up camp almost anywhere!

Average A said...

I cannot get enough of your amazing runs. :)

Kelly said...

From the plains of Minnesota ... envy is coursing through my blood :) I have to drive an hour to get to any decent singletrack around here...no mountains, though!
Keep posting those great pix so I can run vicariously through you!

Slomohusky said...

sorry seemed to miss this posting till just now. curious how much of this was running and how much was walking. it looked pretty techincal at times. the water looks soothing! thanx for sharing.

HappyTrails said...

Slomo - the last part of that second section of climb involved some power hiking just because of the 20% + grades. But the majority of this was running, although not as fast as some of our other routes because it was the first time running most of it and it is fairly technical.

ajh said...

Just reading and laughing at your comment on my birthday post..............wondering if being surrounded by all that water creeps me out. You........who run surrounded by the possibility of lots of snakes, maybe bears and mountain lions wonder about water????? Being surrounded by the water thrills me as I am sure your trails do you!

Laura@Run_Eat_Date said...

Awesome pictures - as usual! Such an incredible run! Thanks for the good vibes around Georgetown. Bear Chase is October 3rd - 50M, 50km, 1/2 mary and 10K options. Seeing your run's profile - I'd say that Bear Chase would be seem quite flat! Here's the website: http://www.bearchaserace.com/ Hope you have great runs this weekend!

Johann said...

Hi there! I don't speak Dutch but my home language is Afrikaans and that comes directly from Dutch. I understand Dutch and they understand Afrikaans. I know quite a lot of Dutch people.

ultrarunnerbrianphilpot said...

Looks great! Nice trails and great weather for running! Have a great weekend!

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