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The park terrain except for the hogback is flat averaging 6425 feet of elevation. The hogback on the park north boundary gains 40 feet of elevation in the west and increased to 140 of elevation in the east. Much of the park ground cover is prairie and juniper prickly with scattered candelabra cholla. The park woodlands are primarily juniper and piñon. Exotic woodlands are cottonwood and Russian olive. The area west of Horseshoe Lake is partially marsh land with cattails and bulrush.
Welcome to Lathrop State Park. We want you to have a good time walking our trails and hiking our terrain through grass, trees, cactus and rocks that may require using your hands seeking your geocache. Specific geocaches inform you of terrain that is more that a casual walk. Each individual geocache description lists a parking lot where you can start your walk, and that gives you time to see what this park is about as you seek your goal. Do not forget to enjoy the view of the mountains on the horizon.
We recommend that you do not use the geocache description Driving Directions printed below the latitude and longitude coordinates. Using the Driving Directions has you parking and walking on private land outside the Lathrop State Park boundary fence. You may be issued a citation and/or have your vehicle towed. There is one fence within Lathrop SP that separates Martin Lake and Horseshoe Lake. This fence has two roads to travel from one lake to the other for you to use. Please use your park map that you were issued when you entered the park to see the park boundary fence.
Lathrop State Park, while sitting in the shadows of the Spanish Peaks, has the distinction of being Colorado’s 1st State Park and covers 1594 acres. One of the main features of the park is its two lakes; Martin Lake covers about 180 surface-acres while Horseshoe Lake has about 150 surface-acres. Both host a wide range of water activities.
Entrance to Lathrop State Park in Walsenburg, CO requires a park pass that can be purchased at the visitor center for display on your vehicle windshield. There is also a self-serving station near the park entrance.
Two types of passes are available: A daily Pass is valid from the day purchased until noon the following day. An Annual Pass is valid at any state park recreation area for the calendar year. Colorado disabled veterans displaying Colorado Disabled Veteran (DV) license plates are admitted free without a pass.
Yes, you are standing on the same dike that the Hogback Trail follows. The reason you do not see the basalt is because the prairie in this area is at a higher elevation than the prairie where the Hogback Trail is located. The uplift of the Culebra Range and Sangre de Cristo Range – Middle Section, which are part of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, is what caused the gradual uplift of the prairie in this general area.
Many visitors do not ascend the hogback and do not see the mountain to the north. The mountains you can see looking westward working eastward are Mt. Maestas, Rough Mt., Silver Mt., Sheep Mt. and Little Sheep Mountain. Mt. Maestas, Rough Mt., and Silver Mt. are igneous stocks. A stock is a huge bubble of magna, 60 cubic miles or less that hardened before it reached surface. It took millions of years of erosion before the igneous mountains were exposed. Sheep Mt. and Little Sheep Mt. are igneous laccoliths. A laccolith is a horizontal flow of magma between rock layers that for various reasons the upper surface begins to bulge upwards forming what can be a very large mountain before hardening.
Next on the distance horizon you see the Sangre de Cristo Range. The North Section includes four peaks that are 14,000 feet or more in elevation. The most obvious is a bulky peak named Humboldt Peak. To the left are two tall and pointy peaks, Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak. To the left is Kit Carson Mt. that is hard to distinguish because it is further north from the other three fourteeners. The mountains in this group are part of the Laramide orogeny (A large area that has been uplifted – mountain building.) that started about 65 million years ago – all the Rocky Mountains. The mountains mostly consist of schist, gneiss, and granite, and their age is in the middle one billion years.
Continuing your visual journey eastward you see a long ridge that finally ends at the summit of Greenhorn Mt., which drops sharply to the prairie on the eastern side. Greenhorn Mt. is part of the Laramide orogeny. Greenhorn Mt. has a much younger summit area. It had a surge of magna that flowed 20-25 million years ago. Hike the Bartlett Trail and you can see the dark basalt. From I-25 you can see the redbeds of the Pennsylvanian Period, about 250 million years ago, and the layers of cream and brown colors of the Cretaceous Period 145 to 65 million years ago. Discounting the Pennsylvanian and Cretaceous the mountain mostly consists of gneiss, and granite, and their age is in the middle one billion years.
Slowly scan the distance horizon for Pikes Peak that is shaped like a sombrero and only a short distance about the foothills of Greenhorn Mt. Pikes Peak is a HUGH batholith. A batholith is sixty or more cubic miles. The surface area of the Pikes Peak batholith is 1480 square miles. Stocks and batholiths begin in the mantle that is many miles below the surface, and the Pikes Peak batholith could be 5 figures of cubic miles. The age is about 1.1 billion years ago and is mostly all granite and colloquially called the Pikes Peak granite.
Additional info Lathrop State Park is 3 miles west of Walsenburg via US Hwy. 160. Park your vehicle at the Horseshoe Lake south boat launch to begin your route to the geocache. Be aware that there are rattlesnakes in the park.
The geocashe is a 4 inch by 5 inch plastic tube that wears camouflage. The tube contains a log to validate your find and souvenirs. Your option to replace the souvenir you selected with one of your own of equal or greater value.
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum