Palmer Lake Trail

Trailhead / Access

To get to the Palmer Lake Trail / Palmer Lake lower and upper reservoirs, You want to take Highway 105 north from Monument to the town of Palmer Lake. The trail head is at the end of Glen Ave and several streets converge and lead to Glen Ave. Glenway St looks to be the most direct, is just past Centennial Park on the left. The last part of Glen Ave does not allow any parking so you will need to find something a block or so away. Most of the streets in this area are narrow and dirt but there is some wider spots that it looks like are used as parking for the trail access. It looks like a hunt and miss type of parking situation.

Trail Summary

The Palmer Lake Trail for lack of a better name is a dirt access road that leads to two reservoirs that are above Palmer Lake and are part of the water system for the town. Because it is an access road, the roadway is well maintained. It is steep but not too bad. It looks to be quite popular. I encountered quite a number of people using the trail on a Sunday morning.

Most of the traffic was hiking but there were some mountain bikes and a couple of runners. I do not believe that access is allowed for horses. Dogs must be leashed and there are a lot of signs to that effect. The lower reservoir is the smaller of the two and had the clearest water. You could see fish feeding on flys from the trail. The upper reservoir was murky and I did not see any ripples to indicate that fish were feeding like I had seen on the lower reservoir. The trail is about 1.5 miles from the trailhead and 2.0 miles if you go to the far end of the reservoir.

Palmer Lake Trail Description

The trail begins at the end of Glenway Ave. There is a gate and signs letting you know that this is a watershed with certain regulations. The trail climbs sharply through a canyon with a steep wall to the right and dropoff to the left. It is wide so if you do not like high places, you can stay to the right. It is pretty open so you will get a lot of sun especially in the later morning and beyond.

The lower resevoir will show up at about a half mile or so. The dam is fenced off to prevent people from walking on it but after that, it looks like the shoreline is accessible for fishing and sitting. The trail flattens out a little here until you get past and start up to the upper reservoir.

Upper reservoir will start around 1.4 miles to about 2.0 miles. There is a marshy area at the end of the resevoir and it is here that you can find an abundance of wild flowers. The trail curves around the top of the reservoir and looks to go down the other side. I did not follow it but I think it may go all the way down to the lower reservoir and maybe down to an alternate trailhead down below.

There is a dirt road / jeep track that takes off to the right at the top of the reservoir and that looks to go on "forever". I followed this up to the top of valley (about 8500ft) then turned back. This was about 3 miles into the trail. The jeep track is steep and has been ravaged by the recent rains. From the tracks, it looks like it has been used for 4 wheel access and maybe ATB. This is beyond the watershed and I think into Pike National Forest.

The views along the way are great. Wildfower viewing mostly at the top of the upper reservoir. There was a trail that took off to the left that was marked with a sign "Forest trail 715" which I think my lead down to Limbaugh Canyon. In looking at the maps, Limbaugh Canyon is not too far from the trail.