Look north down the canyon in Glenwood Springs and one thing dominates the horizon.
Spend any amount of time hiking in the Western United States and you’ll quickly realize mountains are not a single summit. They are layers of elevation, undulating up and down. Masking each other with their peaks and angles. What sets Mt. Sopris apart is how alone it is. The nearly 5,000 feet of slope exposure isn’t a common sight, making for a dramatic centerpiece of the area.
The Last Hike
It was one of our last days in Colorado, and I was looking for a trail I could knock out some mileage on. The kids and Sandi were looking forward to relaxing back in the treehouse. So I set out to find Mt. Sopris.
This mountain is not easy to get to. The directions took me down winding roads, onto gravel, and then finally onto something that vaguely resembled a road. My car was bounced and jostled every which way until I finally came to a full parking lot just off the trailhead.
Right off the bat I knew this hike would be special. Looking back toward Glenwood Springs, a pop-up afternoon thunderstorm hung like an angry giant over the valley. It was big and gray and moody. Everywhere else, sunshine and mountain meadows.
The hike up to the shoulders of the mountain was no less dynamic. The trail begins in covered forests with lots of small wildlife rustling under leaves. After a mile or so, there’s a cattle gate to pass through that gives way to open mountain meadows filled with flowers. Bees and insects hum around the foliage, giving it life.
I didn’t make it to the summit, but I tasted the edge of the final approach. Thomas Lakes, surrounded by rocks. Past where I stopped, all vegetation ceased, and barren rock and snow began.
I made the trek in the afternoon, so I had the trail to myself. Most summiteers start in the morning to make it all the way up and down before dark. I didn’t reach the top, but I was able to lounge by the lakeside. Sunlight glinting off the rippling water.
I couldn’t imagine a better way to end our time in Glenwood Springs.