A Hike on the Hogback Trail

October 28, 2021

Nancy and I took a long lunch break to enjoy a hike above the Lathrop State Park campground. The Hogback Trail is a loop providing incredible views of the Spanish Peaks, the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, and the area to the north of the park including Pikes Peak (14,115 feet).

East Spanish Peak (on the left, 12,683 feet) and West Spanish Peak (13,326 feet) are a pair of mountains formed by igneous intrusions (lava flow) that overlook the two lakes of Lathrop State Park. West Spanish Peak is the easternmost mountain in the United States with an elevation greater than 13,000 feet. They were prominent landmarks on the Santa Fe Trail in the early 19th century. The Sangre de Cristo mountain range, topped with an early snowfall, is on the right.
The same igneous intrusion process that formed the Spanish Peaks also formed a number of volcanic dikes in the area, including the hogback on which we were hiking.

The famed photographer William Henry Jackson (1843-1942), whose images chronicled the American Civil War as well as the growth of the American West (his famous photograph of Colorado’s Mount of the Holy Cross, along with other images of the areas around present-day Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, convinced many people in the east that they needed to travel west), visited the area that is now Lathrop State Park in the 1880s. A short spur hike from the Hogback Trail takes one to the spot where Jackson took the photograph below; I took the one below that one about 120 years later (with the only lens and camera that I had on the hike, so it’s not a great match). Still, a pretty neat experience from a historical perspective.

Image courtesy History Colorado.

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