STORM KING MOUNTAIN TRAIL
When the winds unexpectedly shifted on July 6, 1994, a wildfire on Storm King Mountain trapped and killed 14 young wildland firefighters. This trail is a memorial to those brave men and women who fought the blaze.
The reason this trail exists is a tragic one. The Storm King Mountain Trail is a memorial to the 14 firefighters who died defending the homes and property of people they didn’t even know. Each of them left their homes, families, and friends to help extinguish a fire caused by a lightning strike in the mountains surrounding Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The trail was built by volunteers as a tribute to those firefighters.
Interpretive signs along the way explain the events that led to the disaster. This trail is rugged and primitive and recommended for experienced hikers only. Because it is steep and exposed, the best times to hike it are during the cooler months of the spring and fall. The hike is divided into two sections; the first section climbs 700 feet over one mile in length and terminates at the observation point. From this vantage point visitors can see where firefighters were building the fire line. Hikers can then continue on to the second half of the trail if they choose. The trail drops into a valley below the observation point and then begins to climb over the next half mile. The trail was intentionally left rugged and steep to demonstrate the near impossible conditions in which the firefighters had to work. The stairs were added during trail construction to assist visitors in making the climb.
At the top of the rise, turn right and take the unmarked trail. Here visitors will see the mementos left by others to honor the fallen including caps, t-shirts, and gloves. The high trail continues to an overlook with a view of where 12 smoke jumpers and a hot shot firefighter were killed. After returning to the main trail, visitors can take a short side trail to a second memorial site where two more firefighters had been working. Hiking this trail, try to imagine what this might have been like for the 14 firefighters who were laden down with heavy equipment and battling a raging fire.
• Uses: Hiking
• Length: 4.2 miles out and back
• Ability Rating: Extremely difficult
• Usage: Light
• Dogs permitted
The trail is located approximate 5 miles west of Glenwood Springs. Take I70 to Canyon Creek (Exit 109), then follow the frontage road east about 1 mile to the trailhead.
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