I parked downtown across from the Castle Pines Motel. It turns out Fruita isn't the only place with scary dinosaurs.
I didn't know exactly where the trailhead was, but I wanted to park in the shade and the hillside looked pretty open. So, I just wandered uphill through streets until I found a TH by extrapolating from where I saw people hiking. There were tons of these red-orange flowers on the hillside:
This is Castle Rock from near the park's lot:
This would be a good hike in the AM or late afternoon, but at midday it was sort of toasty. I just jogged easily and brought water. There were trails leading down into the surrounding residential areas, which would be great if you lived there.
Downtown Castle Rock from the top:
The view south towards Pikes Peak:
Below is the way I got to the top, since the stairway that used to lead to the top is missing. This was definitely class 3, but if you're athletic it's not a problem, and exposure is minimal.
About the time I hit Monument I was getting hungry, so I did a bit of exploring and ended up at La Casa Fiesta. The food was billed as New Mexican but IMO was sort of a hybrid between New Mexican and standard Mexican (closer to the latter). The sides were basic Spanish rice and refried beans, and I got red and green sauces and neither was like what I had in Santa Fe, but it was still good overall, and they had Beehive wheat from Bristol on tap. Normally I don't think about service unless it's really bad or really good, but my server that day was exceptional and got a big tip. Actually everyone there seemed on the ball. It's a pleasant, attractive place and they have an assortment of seating options from patio, to indoor patio (where I sat), to bar and dining.
Afterwards I headed south. I checked out a brewery in Pueblo but that downtown is just deserted on weekends. Sorry folks, but I want somewhere I'd enjoy wandering for a while afterwards before I get behind the wheel. I got back on the highway and headed out of town.
I'll do another post on the rest of the day.