Red Rock Canyon fall hike photos

Red Rock Canyon fall hike photos

Photos taken at Red Rock Canyon Open Space in Colorado Springs, Jul 17, 2012.

Copyright (c) 2012, Sandra J. Loosemore. Photos are provided for personal viewing only; no other use is permitted without prior written consent.

I started this hike on the Mesa trail. Here's a view looking back at the trailhead parking lot, US-24, and Garden of the Gods in the distance.

Here's a view of Pikes Peak to the west, from a little farther up the trail. Also visible in this shot, some of the old railroad grade above Manitou Springs and the Manitou Incline (the vertical scar on the right).

Here's a view looking more northward. The ridge on the skyline was all burned during the Waldo Canyon fire a few weeks previously. Firefighters worked very hard during the week of the fire to save the Cedar Heights neighborhood, on the next ridge towards the camera.

Looking off to the east, the quarry ridge is still in deep shadow on this early-morning hike. As you might guess from its name, the Mesa trail sticks to higher ground overlooking the rock formations on either side.

Here's the view looking up the trail, south towards Section 16. The trail climbs pretty steadily but there are only a couple sections where it is at all steep.

This is the "back side" of the red rock formations you cross on the lower part of the Section 16 trail.

Zoom view looking towards Waldo Canyon -- the black burn scar is very obvious here. The line of cliffs is Williams Canyon and Waldo Canyon, where the fire started, is just beyond that.

This is a lousy photo of a bird I spotted in a dead tree along the trail. It has such distinctive facial markings that I thought it would be easy to identify, but I'm stumped. My initial guess in the field was that it was some sort of small hawk (note heavy bill and upright posture); my recollection is that the bird was about the size of a robin or jay.

Looking back, towards the north, near the high point of the trail. Shortly after this point, the trail takes a sharp turn to the left (east) and starts heading downhill.

This part of the Red Rock Canyon park is very close to the Section 16 and Intemann trails. I passed by a couple of connecting trails heading off in that direction.

I basically saw no wildflowers at all along the trail until it started to head down off the mesa. This is a gayfeather.

This one is a western spiderwort.

Here's a really nice view of Garden of the Gods.

Heading downhill, off the mesa.

More downhill. The grassy-looking area beyond the rock fins is a reclaimed landfill site.

Great views of the red rocks. These are all part of the "Fountain formation", which also makes up the red rocks west of Denver and the Flatirons near Boulder.

The wide Mesa Trail ends at a junction with the more rugged Roundup Trail, which drops down into this canyon.

Not sure of the ID on these white flowers.

Closer look at the white flowers.

More cool rock formations.

It was nice to get into the shade at the bottom of the canyon after being out in the sun the entire hike up to this point.

This wild geranium was crawling with insects.

It wouldn't be a hike without a poison ivy patch along the trail!

Coming out of the narrow part of the canyon, there's another steep downhill section.

These yellow flowers belong to Dalmation Toadflax, a noxious weed.

This is a Hairy Four-o'Clock.

Approaching the sandstone quarry.

They cut out a pretty good chunk of this ridge. The interpretive signs explain the history of the quarry operation.

I think this is a sunflower rather than a black-eyed susan. It was quite a tall plant.

Close-up of the sunflower, or whatever it is.

There's a kind of pavilion at the lower end of the meadow below the quarry.

Fabulous views back up-canyon from the pavilion. The shade trees make this a pleasant place to sit down and admire the scenery, too.

I think this is a yarrow, although I'm confused because the flowers look more like pussytoes....

Patch of yellow aster-type flowers.

A different kind of yellow aster-type flowers, larger and more upright. I'm pretty sure these are the ones called "gumweed".

Another successful hike!

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