Trail Exploration: Storm King Mountain Trail
Storm King Mountain Trail will take longer than an hour but is worth highlighting for many reasons. The trail serves as a memorial to the 14 firefighters who lost their lives while fighting a wildfire on the mountain 27 years ago on July 6, 1994. A shift in the wind caused the firefighters to become trapped and later engulfed by the rapidly spreading flames.
As you hike the first mile there are trail signs explaining in greater detail the unfortunate events that transpired. A little farther are memorial crosses set up where the firefighters lost their lives.
The first mile of the hike is maintained fairly well and is an easier hilly hike. After the first mile you are led to an observation point where you can read more about the events of July 6, 1994, as well as still see the burn scars left from the fire.
If one chooses to continue past the observation point, the hike will become significantly more strenuous. The trail after the observation point is not maintained as it is supposed to reflect the rugged terrain the firefighters had to hike through in full gear. Expect to encounter extremely steep uphills as well as downhills, loose rocks and brush surrounding the trail.
Although the hike gets more challenging, it is still a beautiful, somber hike to partake in if you are prepared for a harder hike. One of my favorite parts was hiking up the steep uphills while imagining how hard this hike would be if I was in suffocating, full, firefighting gear. It was also amazing to stop for a second to catch my breath and admire the beauty of the peaks I was climbing.
The only downside of the trail is that it gets hard to track after the first mile. Make sure you bring water, food and sunscreen in case a turn adds more mileage onto your intended hiking route.
The trail is open to hiking only. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times.
Storm King Mountain Trail is located on the Western outskirts of Glenwood Springs. The trail parking lot can be accessed when you drive west on Interstate 70 to Exit 109 and then take the frontage road back east approximately a mile. At the end of the road there will be a horseshoe shaped parking lot that serves as the trail’s access point.
How to get there: Drive about 5 miles west of Glenwood Springs on Interstate 70. Then take Exit 109 to make a quick right turn onto a frontage road running adjacent to Interstate 70. After a mile on the frontage road, the road will dead end into the trail’s parking lot.
Length: 4.2 miles out and back.
Highlights: Observation point, information signs detailing history of trail, and lots of sun-bathing lizards
This is a weekly series on hikes and bike rides throughout Garfield County that are easily accessible and can be done in roughly an hour or less. Have a trail you think we should highlight? Email reporting intern Cody Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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