'Alternative' trail near original in Section 16 above Gold Camp Road
Mechanized equipment is being used by an area contractor -- Tony Boone Trails of Salida, hired by Colorado Springs Parks -- to cut in the 4,100-foot segment, which will unite with the original Palmer/Red Rock Loop Trail near the top of the ridge.
“This new trail will run parallel to [it], providing an alternative way to get into Red Rock Canyon/Section 16,” a press release states. “The City of Colorado Springs has worked with Medicine Wheel and the Friends of Red Rock Canyon [local volunteer groups] on the alignment, which was vetted during the Red Rock Canyon Master Plan process.”
Contacted on site April 9, Boone said he thought he could be done by the end of the week. The press release estimated a week and a half.
The trailhead is accessible from Gold Camp Road, about a half-mile uphill from the intersection with 26th Street, Bear Creek Road and Lower Gold Camp Road.
“The new trail will be more friendly for cyclists, equestrians, and other trail users who have expressed a preference to access Section 16 via a route free of steps and other structures,” said Chris Lieber, development manager of Colorado Springs Parks.
The contractor cost is being funded by a state trails grant to the city, according to Sarah Bryarly, a planner with City Parks.
About five miles long, the Palmer Trail loops back to Gold Camp Road farther up the hill at High Drive. That part is not open now. It also connects to the Intemann Trail.
The original Palmer Trail, which has existed for decades, includes several locations with steps, some of which were added in a city-sponsored project two years ago, before the master plan was finalized. Cycling representatives especially complained about the steps.
The first phase for the alternative trail took place last June, when 85 volunteers with hand tools cut in just under 800 feet of trail near the top of the first ridge above the Section 16 Trailhead. That project also created a connection to the Ridgeline Trail into the White Acres portion of Red Rock Canyon Open Space.
The original and alternative Palmer trails are roughly parallel, less than 100 feet apart, for much of their routes along the face of the ridge. Asked if similar “double-trail” alignments -- one for hikers, one for bikers -- are planned elsewhere in the open space, Bryarly said no. However, she added that when this specific layout was presented during the master plan process, “the public was in support of providing an alternative route, resulting in the parallel alignment.”
Bryarly added that Boone's tasks include removing a third trail (an unofficial one -- the remains of an old road), which follows a generally steeper line up the ridge.
Westside Pioneer article