Note: This is a re-post of a hike we went on a couple years ago. This trail is in the foothills just west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Enjoy!
For memorial day, the Unexpected Mom and I decided to get up early to beat the crowds and hit a trail. Known as “Section 16” (AKA Palmer Red Rock Trail Loop), this is a nice 6 mile loop that is very close to town. However since it is so close to town, it’s also very popular; we met quite a few hikers, runners and bikers on this trail. I recommend that if you head out to this trail on the weekend or holiday, you get an early start in the morning.
To get here, take the U.S. 24/Cimarron Street exit and continue for about 2 miles, turn left on 26th Street. Continue for about 1.4 miles to the 4-way stop and turn right on Gold Camp Road. Continue for less than a mile to the little parking area on the right. If it is full here, continue up the road for additional parking.
Starting at the trail head, the hike climbs steadily and is a pretty good cardio workout. At about mile 0.95, the trail forks; take the left fork which continues on as Palmer Red Rock Trail, the right fork (Intermann Trail cutoff) will take you to the Red Rocks Canyon Open Space. From here the incline of the hill starts in earnest and can get pretty steep at times. Mile 1.5 starts a series of switchbacks, which makes the climb a little bit easier until you get to the top at mile 2.0. Pause here for a rest and some great views.
From here it’s all downhill with more great views. The trail continues through a heavily wooded area on a gentle downhill slope. You’ll cross a little wooden bridge at mile 3.6; this is another great spot to sit down on a rock, rest and enjoy the shady wooded area. Continue down as the trail connects to a dirt road after forking (we took the left fork, I believe either fork will take you to the same ending spot) which then connects to a paved intersection at Bear Creek Road and Gold Camp Road. If you parked at the trail head, turn left onto Gold Camp Road (watch out for traffic) over the hill and back to the parking lot.
This is a nice little hike clocking in close to 6 miles for the entire loop. The trail can get very crowded during peak times, so watch out for runners and bikers coming from both directions. There are plenty of areas to take in the views and sit down to relax in a nice shady area, so make sure to take advantage of these.
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