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Upper Liberty Cap gets beautiful after three miles

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If you hike two, or even two and a half miles down Upper Liberty Cap Trail, you might ask; what’s so monumental about this except the silence? Unless a small plane is flying over. What beauty is there to see but plentiful pinyon pine and juniper? Unless a flock of pinyon jays decides to sortie across the path, ignoring you completely.

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Walking only one or two miles of the flat, broad trail that used to be a nature motor route will find you questioning why writers at Nickel and gjhikes have dubbed Upper Liberty Cap Trail a favorite. But, continue on. Pass mile three. You are still on a broad path once used for a road. The sides have been encroached on by sagebrush and yucca, but the dirt begins to turn from gray to red. To the right you see glimpses of Ute Canyon. Off to the left, red sandstone spires appear. That’s more like it - sandstone monoliths are often associated with Colorado National Monument. A few more paces and you can see the familiar shape of Kissing Couple in Monument Canyon.

Somewhere in the vicinity of mile four, a path cuts off to the left. It leads to Otto’s Bathtub. Take that path. There is much more to see than a legendary bathing place. From a safe place on the rock rim, you can see north the length of Monument Canyon.

Writing for The Daily Sentinel in 2012, Bill Haggerty quipped, “I think I know why Beatrice Farnham boogied on old John Otto shortly after they married at the base of Independence Monument in June of 1911. She didn’t like the bathroom setup.”

Or perhaps, they disagreed about the location of the tub? Apparently, the true Otto’s Bathtub is the one with hand hewn steps and precarious handholds,dangerously located at the bottom of a precipice. There are other safer and more luxurious settings in the immediate area. One even holds water. What’s a bath without water? What’s a hike in the Colorado National Monument without majestic, intriguing sandstone formations? Make sure you go the extra mile. Upper Liberty Cap Trail just might become your pick for most beautiful.

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