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When you hear the name “Colorado National Monument” you think of something along the lines of giant sculpture or statue.  You probably don’t first think of a place like this:

A view of Independence Monument in the Colorado National Monument

or this…

Looking down into Ute Canyon

But once you realize that’s exactly what the “Monument” is, you’re intrigued.  Admit it.

The Monument is over 20 miles of road constructed high above a multitude of canyons, rock spires and monoliths of red rock.  It is filled with Utah juniper trees and some of them are over 500 years old.  The road, Rim Rock Drive, was built in the 1930s by the C.C.C., W.P.A and others.

While the views from Rim Rock Drive are breathtaking, I find hiking into the Monument from some trailheads down below to be just as exciting.  One trail that I plan to tackle again before the end of the year is the Liberty Cap trail.

This 4-mile round trip hike (to the formation) is a total butt-kicker.  The first time I hiked it I was mostly recovered from an ankle sprain and, since I couldn’t run, I thought I’d hike.  Four hours later I made it back to the car; I wasn’t injured, just exhausted!

The trail winds up the side of a steep rockside, through pinyons and junipers, to the formation.  Along the way I found myself asking, “Where is the trail?”

I took this heading back down. The trail goes across that piece of rock and then cuts sharply back to the left.

This Liberty Cap trail is nothing if not exciting.  It will definitely keep you on your toes!  The views were incredible and the sense of awe at standing next to a 160 million year old sand dune was almost overwhelming.

Liberty Cap formation in the Colorado National Monument

Sometimes words aren’t even necessary.

The Liberty Cap trail is a strenuous trail, but it’s also just one of many available for hiking in the Colorado National Monument.  These trails are only open to hikers; road bikers can bike the entirety or a part of Rim Rock Drive, but no bikes of any kind are allowed off road.

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