Nestled at the base of Pikes Peak sits the tiny community of Manitou Springs in Southern Colorado. Once a mecca for spiritual renewals, early resident’s long deceased still refuse to leave. It's one of Manitou Springs' oldest ghost stories, and every year the town makes sure it lives on.
Long before white settlers set foot into the Rocky Mountains the Native Americans revered Manitou Springs as a place of spiritual and physical healing. The springs that bubble in the area contain curative minerals which drew people to Manitou Springs. The Native Americans, especially the Utes would come down Ute Pass now highway 24 to drink the waters which flowed out of the ground.
More than 100 years ago Emma Crawford came to Manitou Springs in search of a cure for her Tuberculosis. It was thought that the town's crisp mountain air and healing waters could help her, and for a while it did. She drank the waters, and she started feeling better, but she always wanted to hike up Red Mountain. To honor the Native Americans she would sometimes call the mountain Red Chief Mountain.
Against all medical advice, Emma set out on a journey up the mountain and accomplished her goal. To mark her efforts she tied a red handkerchief around a Pinion tree, and later wished that if she ever did die Red Mountain would be where she wanted to be buried. Things were looking bright for young Emma, and she was in the middle of planning her wedding when things took a turn for the worse, and she succumbed to her illness. Emma's finance carried out her final wish and found 12 men to carry her coffin to the top of Red Mountain. The 12 men had to work in shifts and spent two days trying to get Emma to her final resting place. Due to the loose gravel, they had to go back and try the next day, but they eventually got her up there.
Emma was laid to rest, but her eternal sleep was interrupted. A decade later a developer was given permission to build an incline to the top of Red Mountain which would terminate at Emma’s gravesite. The developer exhumed Emma’s coffin and buried it on the opposite side of the mountain. Year’s later torrential rains in Manitou Springs washed Emma's coffin back down Red Mountain, and legend has it she was found by some young children playing in Ruxton Canyon. They ran by this skull, and nearby were the silver handles, and the name plate to her coffin, so they brought them downtown to the sheriff.
Emma was reburied in Crystal Valley Cemetery, where a headstone marks her story. But is she at rest?
The incline no longer exists, and the only access to the top of Red Mountain is by foot. For some of those who make the ascent to Red Mountain have told Emma is there to greet them. Some say Emma also shows herself behind the windows of the Crawford House where she and her family would stay during their visits to Manitou Springs and often hear her play the piano.
Maybe on this day we’ll see this loving and caring woman on the summit of Red “Chief” Mountain with her bright smile and her red handkerchief .
Paul Intemann Memorial Nature Trail is a popular trail that winds south of Manitou Springs. When hiking from north to south the trail head is located off the Ruxton Avenue by the Iron Spring Gazebo. Follow the trail through Spring Street and through the gate. After about 1/2 mile you will see a spur that leads up to the Red Mountain. Standing south of Manitou Springs, Red Mountain (7375 ft) can be accessed by a short but rewarding hike. Some remains of the summit structures can still be seen. Start at the Iron Springs trailhead for Paul Intemann trail. About half a mile past the gate we'll reach the trail junction with Red Mountain trail spur to the right. From here the trail starts climbing rather steeply through the forest. Once we reach the bare saddle keep left to the summit. We'll enjoy great views including Manitou Springs, Williams Canyon, The Incline and Pikes Peak.
After the hike I'd like to walk through town and check out some of the historical museums and landmarks.
Length: Total length of both segments is 5 miles.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate with a 1,000 ft elevation gain.
Directions: From the Denver area and Colorado Springs area take the Valley Highway (I-25). Exit onto US-24 Westbound to Manitou Avenue and drive into downtown Manitou Springs. At the round about turn on to Ruxton Avenue. Continue up the hill and find parking on the side of the street somewhere by the Iron Spring gazebo.
I hope you all have a great week!!!