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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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