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blue Section 16/Palmer Loop

  4.5 ( 63 )

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5.9 mile 9.6 kilometer loop
83% Runnable


Ascent: 1,287' 392 m
Descent: -1,288' -392 m
High: 7,845' 2,391 m
Low: 6,633' 2,022 m


Avg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 38% (21°)


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Trail shared by Jason Doedderlein

A favorite loop in the Springs area.

Jason Doedderlein

Features River/Creek · Views


The Section 16/Palmer Loop is a great 5.5 mile loop, easily accessible to both Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. It offers the opportunity to connect with many other trails to make this part of as long of a run as you want.

The first mile is very exposed and can be brutal in the summer as the heat radiates off of the red rock. After the first mile the trail mainly goes through ponderosa forest.

This is a VERY popular trail. Expect lots of people if you hit this after work or during summer weekends.


This all begins and ends at the Section 16 trailhead, to be found on Gold Camp Rd.

The Section 16/!Palmer Trail begins with a gentle incline that winds its way up through red rock and scrub oak, affording some great views of Garden of the Gods and Red Rock open space.

There are a couple of unmarked trails that lead off to the right heading to Red Rock Open Space. Stay on the trail that leads uphill and generally looks more used.

After about 0.75 miles, the trail intersects with the Intemann Trail, which heads towards connections to Red Rock Canyon and ultimately leads into Manitou Springs, where it can be used to get to the Manitou Incline and Barr Trail. For this route you'll continue straight and shortly after the Intemann connector, the trail climbs into the trees. In the summer, this is a relief. In the winter, expect to start hitting snow and ice.

The incline picks up at this point. The trail is well marked in the forest and wherever there might be confusion, there is a marker pointing in the right direction. They will be marked, Section 16/Palmer Trail (Ring the Peak Trail).

Just over 1.5 miles from the TH, the ridge is reached opening spectacular views to the South. I am always startled when standing at this point, where I see nothing but mountains and trees, that I am standing on city property.

The trail continues to the right (west) where it flattens out. There is some up and down but it tends to be fairly mild. Eventually, the trail begins a sustained drop that is less steep than the climb and a blast to allow gravity to do its work.

After about three miles the trail reaches the valley and you continue around to the left towards High Drive, which can be seen when higher up on the trail.

Head down High Drive until you hit pavement. Gold Camp rd and the TH will be a couple hundred feet up and to the left on the left-most of the three roads.


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Oct 28, 2018
Toby Broyles
Aug 21, 2018
Scott Kallback
Jun 30, 2018
Travis Atwood
Jun 12, 2018
Phoebe Anne
Apr 10, 2018
Dan Fleming
Sep 19, 2017
Jay Watts
Warm, windy day. Glad this trail is so shady!
Jul 2, 2017
Sarah C
Jun 30, 2017
Deanna Jamison
The downhill was SO much fun! The uphill...tough. 5.7mi

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 62 votes


  4.5 from 62 votes
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Intermediate Intermediate

shawn brennan
colorado springs
shawn brennan   colorado springs
The first half mile was a bit odd for the route finding (and smell of dog stuff that bad owners had left behind), but just trust your instincts and you should end up on the main trail when you finally see Palmer signs after about a mile. We had a cool bluebird day, which made for great hiking and nice vistas. If the main trailhead is full, there are some more lots just a little farther up the roa. May 4, 2017
Pat Lavigne
Colorado Springs, CO
Pat Lavigne   Colorado Springs, CO
Not even remotely a "running trail" for the first 1.7 miles. You cover the 1300 feet in that distance. After that it's smooth sailing and mostly downhill. I thought I had made a huge error at first but gutted out the climb. I wasn't disappointed. If you're looking to get your heart rate up and work your legs for 1.7 miles then coast on a nice downhill for about 4 miles this is a great option! PS: My GPS had me at 5.7 miles from start to finish. Oct 9, 2018
Taylor Harris
Colorado Springs, CO
Taylor Harris   Colorado Springs, CO
Don't take any of the side trails and keep left to run the loop if you are going CCW. If you go right you will end up in Red Rock. Feb 20, 2019

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