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Level: Intermediate
Length: 6 mi (9.7 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Out & Back
Elevation: +372/ -395 ft
Total: 140 riders

Mountain Biking Palmer Trail / Section 16

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#66 of 1,354 mountain bike trails in Colorado
#452 in the world

This route follows High Drive up about a mile to the Palmer Trail singletrack on the right side
of the road. The Palmer Trail climbs about 2 miles from here through the woods on some of
the smoothest singletrack in town. At the top there's a 3-way intersection; take the right
fork if you want to make this a loop w/ section 16 (and you're in the mood for some washed
out, technical as gank singletrack). Otherwise take the left fork up a little farther for
awesome views of Garden of the Gods. Turn around once the trail starts getting steep and
gravel strewn. From here it's a 3+ mile descent back down the trail you climbed.

First added by Jeff Barber on Jun 25, 2003. Last updated Apr 30, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
From I-25, take US 24 West to 21st St. Turn left onto 21st street, then right onto Lower Gold Camp Road. At the four way stop, turn left onto Bear Creek Road. Park on the side of the road at the end of Bear Creek Road or the parking lot at the ranger station at the end of High Drive.
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Palmer Trail / Section 16 Trail map

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Local Info

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ktallakson (on Oct 14, 2019)
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Trail conditions

Good (on May 15, 2021)
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Palmer Trail / Section 16 videos

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Mountain Biking the Palmer Trail
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Colorado Springs, Colorado

Intermediate | 12 mi
Beginner | 2 mi
Intermediate | 8 mi
| 0.9 mi

Rider questions

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  • lee1569

    Great trail. Started at Red Rock Canyon and climbed up Palmer Trail. The single track is really smooth and an easy climb as it levels out in a few spots. The downhill is pretty fun, just pick your line carefully, a lot of rocks and roots and you can gain some good speed after the switchbacks.

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  • caissus1860

    Fun trail. Can't wait to see what it looks like and how it rides without the snow and ice.

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  • camelkicker

    Currently closed due to erosion caused by constant rain.

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  • lpixleyfelt60

    This trail is so far one of my best favorites. I would recommend using full suspension and good brakes If a beginner. Many rocks and roots to go down on which is fun. Watch out for hikers!

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  • 2_Salukis   ✓ supporter

    Nice flowing singletrack for Palmer Trail - too bad Section 16 is required to make it a loop. Excellent colors this time of year with the aspen turning yellow. Great views.

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  • ~Mountain Bike Addict~

    Great trail, has a XC type feel to 40% of it and the rest is rough downhill. Has a few really rough sections.

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  • mongwolf

    Yes, "entertaining" is a great way to describe this trail. Very entertaining. =)

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  • mongwolf

    One final thought. The main description classifies this as an "out and back" config. I don't agree. Palmer alone would be an out and back, but P/S16 is a loop, starting on Gold Camp Road and accessing the ST via High Drive. Then you end on Gold Camp where you started.

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  • Lifeisb96

    I already wrote a killer review on this trail but I got say I'd like to add to that! After the rain the past few days I haven't been on mountian but the switchbacks after rain are sketchy, super fast and everything is sandy! Honestly I loved it! Super challenging and the switchbacks are killer! Watch your speed and the techy sections are even harder! Defiantly do this right after rain! You won't regret what this sucker throws at you! However I would advise not to go up the switchbacks then down the soulth side. The banks are super sketchy and can easily collapse on you and the shoulder is extremely soft especially on thoes tight fast corners. Either side, make sure your brakes are in check and your brain is working!

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  • Lifeisb96

    Wonderful trail for just getting in to technical trails. Go up gold camp rd first past the gate then a faairly good grade up hill. Nice raspberries on the side for munching on. About half a mile up there is the trail head on the right. Sandy and pikes peak granite crumbles. Climbs over 3 miles with no switchbacks, but does follow the valleys and contours of mountains. when you come to the top of the ridge there is a trail that seems like it continues to go up. Haven't been on it yet, but I've heard that its fast for bikes and defiantly a good side trip. Make sure you take more than just one bottle of water, especially in the heat of the day. Once at the top you take 6 switchbacks down. First 2 are very technical and are not fast. Steep and very hairy on some switchbacks. After the first 2 switch backs speed picks up and becomes fast and still a bit rocky. Defiantly fun and defiantly worth the grueling incline! The final stage are sets of stairs, there are also separate trails that take you to the bottom. Over all 4 because of the potential this trail gives all types of riders! Worth the trip up there! Also there are connections to the interman trail which takes you to red rock park and manitou! Trail head connects after switchbacks on the way down. Dont take the water fall trail, go a bit farther. Very well marked! cant miss it.

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  • zsteedman

    The technical sections were pretty disappointing to be honest. Definitely more annoyed then challenged by these sections. Favorite part was actually the upper section that takes you to some good views of garden of the gods. Actually have a chance to gain some speed here.

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  • zr140th

    Finally rode it, good conditions, need to do it a few more times to get some good lines chosen on the more steep & technical sections so that I don't boil the brake fluid. Other than that, very satisfied with this trail!

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    i rode the whole palmer/ sec16 trail ysterday as opposed to just the palmer trail out-n-back and i must say section 16 was not as bad/hard/dangerous as i had heared about (in my opinion Palmer park has some areas that i would consider harder or more dangerous than section16), yes it is loose, yes it is rocky and yes it was dry but still rideable. i did have a hard time clearing the first two switchbacks but other than that it was fun and fast. if you want very fast and flowy then stick to the palmer trail out-n-back which is a blast... i rate it a 4 for the for climb and the fun DH on palmer trail but its a 3 over all i think...

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  • SomeNoobie

    I went up High Dr and came down the back side of Red Rock Trail that leads into Palmer Trail... Good down slopes with lots of rocky spots. I am sort of new at anything single track but would say I can keep up with some of the intermediate guys. To learn and get better this is a great start. I will do it again any time.

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  • pdinsurance

    I wish I was as cool as dirtcoach, I had to walk my bike down a little bit of the section 16 downhill. I plan on trying it again, and in daylight next time. The uphill is the best in the local area.

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  • DB4LYall   ✓ supporter

    3.5 miles of uphill but the singletrack is in great shape. Alot of walkers on this trail to going the other way. The downhill switchbacks are ridiculous and had trouble with unstable rocks. Pick your lines well and keep your fingers on the brakes. I went end over end going over a rock which shifted causing the bike to flip but luckily the loose granite that fills the downhill area cushioned my fall. Overall the climb was good but for the downhill pull the body armor out of your bag.

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  • vbeckman74

    Some rough spots, and some elevation. It's all worth it on the way back down.

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  • John Fisch

    I have a tough time understanding how anyone could give this trail less than 4 stars--it's a rare 5 for me. The climb on the Palmer Trail is ideal--enough grade to be great training, but not so much as to kill a mere mortal. Along the way there are unbelievable vistas, especially since your right on the edge of town. Then, once on top, the real fun begins. First there's "the rock." You come around a corner and encounter a big, gnarly hunk o' Pikes Peak Granite occupying the whole trail. Take the high line and power over it. Then get ready for the downhill. Just as you get some real speed going, there's a 3-ft root drop into a gravelly groove followed imemdiately by a switchback left. Then comes a series of tight switchbacks combined with rock and water bar drops. The last two miles alternate between really fast/swooopy and fast/technical. Unbelievably fun for such an accessible trail.

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  • dirtcoach

    I road this trail about 10 years ago and I now remember why I haven't since. I can see why some riders from the CS area try to ride the double black DH trails at Keystone, when they have no business on them. Sec 16 IS NOT A TECHNICAL TRAIL, Or a GREAT DOWNHILL it is Steep and takes some skill so you don't spin out the rear wheel while going up, though I cleared everything on my 32lbs full suspension bike up and down including the steps. The trail is narrow and has some spots with some rocks, a moderate blue trail at best. I kept looking for the technical challenge but it never happened. I started at Red Rock Canyon I wanted to take a look at and play the FREE RIDE area. Guys that is not free ride, maybe at the very basic level ZERO challenge again. Maybe ok to teach your girlfriends retarded brother how to ride a bike but boring. The Red Rock Canyon trail ratings the Black trails are high green at best mostly washed out gravel pits. Don't bother riding any of this, let the dog walkers have it.

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  • RideorDie

    This is a great trail, but is always popular with hikers and trail runners, so be prepared to share or p*** people off (and some times both). I really enjoy the climb. It's a good steady push with plenty of flat spots to let you catch your wind without stopping. You are rewarded at the top by a nice little waterfall followed by some sweet, gank, technical DH. This ride is a good one to hit after 667 and 666. It makes for a good 10 mile loop or so with plenty of rewards. If your just starting to ride, don't attempt the DH loop, just turn around and enjoy the smooth trail. Otherwise, RIDE or DIE!!!

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