Palmer Park Trails

Trail Summary

Palmer Park is a 700+ acre park in the heart of Colorado Springs. Deeded to the city in 1899 by General William Palmer, it has become one of the more popular locations for hiking, biking, running, and horse riding in the area. There are numerous picnic areas and recreational facilities in addition to the trail system. It is said that there are about 25 miles of formal trails within the park and probably many more "social" trails. The many trails run the gambut of easy to difficult so there is no shortage of trails for any level of user.

The terrain has a large mesa at the center of the park. The trails run the circumference and crisscross the mesa in a variety of easy to challenging configurations. You can easily get confused by all the trails. The markings for the trails are not as good as some of the other parks in the area. Trails are marked by 4x4 posts with the name of the trail. The newer parks and trails are going to the use of maps at key locations. This has not made its way to Palmer Park in the area I have currently explored.

The Park is open year round but there are hours that vary by season. Some of the interior trails will collect snow and ice because of a lack of exposure to the sun but with the mild weather characteristic of Colorado Springs, most of the time, the trails will be quite usable.

Trailhead / Access

There are several access points to the park. The one I use most often is the Greencrest Trail Head. This trail head is off of Austin Bluffs Prkwy on the north side of the park. There is street parking only at this location. Officially it is not listed as a trail head however it is the main access point to the Lazyland Picnic area and is used as a trail head by many of the cross country teams and local hikers.

The main access point is at Academy Blvd and Maizeland. There is extensive parking at the entrance and your typical park amenities. The trails are less obvious from this point however, I have not used this access but will do so in the near future and document access points to the trails.

There is also a trail head known as North Canyon that is at the intersections of Paseo Rd and Chelton Rd. This is where the stables are to be found. It is on the south side of the park.

Course 1 - 4.0 miles

My first trail adventure at the park was planned to be fairly simple. I took the Palmer Point Trail which goes off to the right from the acess point on the street. It is a moderate difficult trail that stays low and follows the contour of the park to the west then south. A couple of miles into the trail, you will reach the stable area and North Canyon trail head. This is about 2 miles

At the stables, I took the Edna Mae Nature trail so that I could work my way back the way I came but higher up the mesa. This section was narrow and rock with a lot of ups and downs. There are a lot of adjoining trails in this section so it can be confusing as to where you are headed. I tried to keep working myself back towns the west and north. I followed this trail until I reached one of the major trails which are large gravel roadbed trails. This was at 3 miles. I took this to the right and followed it bearing left where it splits until I was about to the point I started. I could see Austin Bluffs pkwy below so I start looking for a trail down. There is a narrow trail that takes off to the left and is quite steep and rock that will take you down to the starting point. The gravel road area is the dog run area where dogs are allowed to be off leash so a little caution is needed to avoid triping on exuberant canines.

Course 2 - 3.5 miles

Course 2 starts again at the Greencrest trail head. If you go left, there are a couple of trails and a gravel road that head off towards the east. I picked up on the Greencrest trail as the starting point for this course. It is rated a green and it is fairly easy with a couple of more moderate climbs.

The greencrest trail follows along the edge of the park. At about 1 mile into the trail, I reached a point where you could see the main park entrance and ball fields below. At this point, I backtracked a short distance and worked my way south and then some to the west. This brought me to the main road that winds through the park and give access to the various picnic areas and parking areas. There is also a gravel road that goes up to the yucca flats trailhead. It was quite busy but there is a trail that parallels the road so I took that up to the flats. The trail will work around the parking area. Here, I worked along the Yucca trail and back to the dog run area I was at in Course 1. Here I picked up on the trail back down to the Greencrest trailhead.

Most of this course was easy to moderate. There were a couple of spots with steeper sections but they were minimal. I was looking for a good running/riding course that is not too technical and I think this one is good for that, maybe with a couple of modifications.