Palmer Trail/ Section 16

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The Palmer Trail is an excellent 5.5-mile loop that travels up through a pine forest and offers wonderful views of the surrounding mountains, including Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods.

Written by

Tisa Foster

Destination Distance From Downtown

7.6 miles


3 of 5 diamonds


Time To Complete

1-3 hours


All Seasons

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits


Land Website

Link to Website


The Palmer Trail/ Section 16 is a roughly 6-mile loop that is excellent for trail running and hiking. Though somewhat steep near the beginning (especially for runners), the rewards of mountain views, shade-giving pines, and the loop nature of the trail itself all combine to more than make up for the expended physical effort. And the moderate mileage makes it the perfect choice for a weekday adventure. 
Going counter clockwise, the beginning part of the trail features the rather arid landscape typical of Colorado's Front Range, but this section doesn't last long, and soon you'll be climbing up into a somewhat cooler and shadier stretch of trail. Yes, climbing. Around 1,000 feet, and it's a pretty steep section. But again, it's well worth it. You'll experience lovely views of the Pikes Peak region, you'll come across mountain streams, cross footbridges, and travel over very well-maintained trail. After mostly flat hiking/ running with nice views of the Garden of the Gods and the city of Colorado Springs, there will be a fun descent towards High Drive, near the end. 
One thing to be aware of is that the parking lot at the Section 16 Trailhead has been known to have the occasional break-in and vandalism. Be sure to not leave any valuables in your vehicle. 

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Palmer Trail/ Section 16

Colorado Springs, CO,
38.82243, -104.89042

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