A fun place to go in Section 16
A few years ago I went on several hikes with the Saturday Knights, Colorado Springs' oldest hiking club which has been around for more than 100 years. On one of those hikes, we ate lunch in one of the club's special caves. We were virtually sworn to secrecy as to the location of that cave.
Maybe just about every hiker has favorite, special places which are only shared with a few trusted friends. I know that I certainly do.
One of my special places is in Section 16. It is a walk along the crest of a low ridge of red sandstone. From the Section 16 trailhead on Gold Camp Road, it is less than a mile and a half, round-trip, more just a walk than a real hike. With the purchase of Section 16 as open space in the works, maybe it is time for me to share this with everyone on the Westside who doesn't already know it. About four tenths of a mile up from the trailhead, after the trail crosses a dry stream bed, the red sandstone ridge can be seen to the right. Just past it, the Parallel Trail branches off to the left and the Red Rock Meadow Loop Trail to the right, marked by a square post faintly painted with its name.
Climbing onto the ridge crest is fairly easy. It continues to the north in a gradual downhill for a quarter mile. At its end, a gently sloping slab offers an easy way down the west side of the ridge into a forest of mature ponderosa pine where the Red Rock Meadow Loop Trail leads back up to the main trail.
All along that quarter mile, wind and water have sculpted the cross-bedded sandstone into waves, ripples and ribs. Bathtub-size depressions hold rainwater days after a storm. There is a flat part of the ridge top which seems like the perfect place for a family picnic. Just to the east, there is another ridge of light grey sandstone. When I first went there as an 8-year-old with my mother, I called that ridge “Moonrise Rock.” Its color suggests the color of moonlight while the arc shape of its crest suggests the first sliver of moon rising above the horizon.
This red sandstone ridge is a place of beauty for anyone. If you would discover its true magic, though, go there with an 8-year-old.
And, you might want to go there soon. If the city imposes the same climbing regulations in Section 16 that it does elsewhere, walking this ridge would be a violation of the regulations.