December 22, 2015
Palmer Park is a bit of a conundrum. It's right in the city, the views are great, and there are miles of trails with all different surfaces and difficulties. But the trails are poorly marked and very poorly maintained. What should be a moderate trail often turns into a black diamond due to washouts, roots, and exposed boulders. There's only about 120-150 feet in elevation change, but the ascents are all pretty steep and really get the heart pounding. I start either at the baseball diamonds or at the Greencrest trailhead off Austin Bluffs and circle the park using Greencrest trail, Palmer Point, Cheyenne, Grandview, and a couple others, for a 7-mile loop. Much of this was very difficult on my full-rigid bike, but it was all doable with some pushing where things were too eroded or poorly maintained. Lots of sliprock and clay mud when it's wet. A VERY tough ride following rain or snow unless you're on a fatty, and even then it's pretty slick, from what I'm told. You'll have to beware of dogs off-leash, horses, and hikers, but most people are cool and polite. If you're looking for rock hopping, there are some seriously technical spots along Palmer Point trail, especially where it overlooks Greencrest. And this winter, someone decorated the trees along a stretch of tame trail with Christmas decor. This park is best ridden during summer and fall, IMHO, when it's dry. But I'll still be there whenever its warm enough this winter, since it's close to home.