In southwest Colorado Springs, beneath the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs Section 16 Open Space delights visitors with its intimate hiking trails and dramatic vistas. Minutes from downtown, this 640 acre park offers hikers, runners and mountain bikers a chance to leave the city for a close-by mountain escape.
To reach the trailhead, turn south on 21st street at its intersection with Hwy 24 and proceed one half mile to a second intersection with Gold Camp Rd. Turn west and continue on for a short drive past a five way intersection with Wheeler Rd., Bear Creek Rd. and Upper Gold Camp Rd. – the trailhead is on the right about .5 mi farther. Parking may be limited on weekends.
Starting from the trailhead you can explore the hilly terrain of the park for .8 mile leading to a spectacular overlook of Garden of the Gods to the north. A short way farther the trail intersects the Paul Intemann Trail, which winds back toward Manitou Springs, eventually linking with the Barr Trail up Pikes Peak.
Follow the Intemann Trial for a short distance turning south at the first opportunity onto the Palmer-Red Rock Loop which takes you into the heart of the park. A moderate to difficult climb of approximately 2.0 miles brings you to a ridge offering a fantastic mountain vista. On your way you’ll climb through towering pines and a scattering of aspens near the summit.
From here it’s all downhill for the next 3 miles. Don’t forget to stop at a waterfall grotto along the way where you can sink your toes into its cool water. The trail winds through a forest of evergreens until it meets with the High Road coming from North Cheyenne Canyon. There is no vehicle traffic so enjoy a leisurely hike listening to Bear Creek edging the road for the last mile back to the trailhead.
Park hours are 5:00 am to 11:00 pm during the summer and 5:00 am to 9:00 pm in winter. This is a great place to explore nature with your kids. Or bring your out-of- town guests for a twilight walk to the first overlook.
There is no entry fee for the Colorado Springs Section 16 Open Space. It is a gift of generous benefactors and the residents of Colorado Springs to all who wish to visit. There are no sanitary facilities at the trailhead.