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blue Section 16/Palmer Loop

  4.5 ( 65 ) Favorite

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5.9 mile 9.6 kilometer loop


Ascent: 1,287' 392 m
Descent: -1,288' -392 m
High: 7,845' 2,391 m
Low: 6,633' 2,022 m


Avg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 38% (21°)


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Trail shared by Jason Doedderlein

A favorite loop in the Springs area.

Jason Doedderlein

Features River/Creek · Views


The Section 16/Palmer Loop is a great 5.5 mile loop, easily accessible to both Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. It offers the opportunity to connect with many other trails to make this part of as long of a hike as you want.

The first mile is very exposed and can be brutal in the summer as the heat radiates off of the red rock. After the first mile the trail mainly goes through ponderosa forest.

This is a VERY popular trail. Expect lots of people if you hit this after work or during summer weekends.


This all begins and ends at the Section 16 trailhead, to be found on Gold Camp Rd.

The Section 16/!Palmer Trail begins with a gentle incline that winds its way up through red rock and scrub oak, affording some great views of Garden of the Gods and Red Rock open space.

There are a couple of unmarked trails that lead off to the right heading to Red Rock Open Space. Stay on the trail that leads uphill and generally looks more used.

After about 0.75 miles, the trail intersects with the Intemann Trail, which heads towards connections to Red Rock Canyon and ultimately leads into Manitou Springs, where it can be used to get to the Manitou Incline and Barr Trail. For this route you'll continue straight and shortly after the Intemann connector, the trail climbs into the trees. In the summer, this is a relief. In the winter, expect to start hitting snow and ice.

The incline picks up at this point. The trail is well marked in the forest and wherever there might be confusion, there is a marker pointing in the right direction. They will be marked, Section 16/Palmer Trail (Ring the Peak Trail).

Just over 1.5 miles from the TH, the ridge is reached opening spectacular views to the South. I am always startled when standing at this point, where I see nothing but mountains and trees, that I am standing on city property.

The trail continues to the right (west) where it flattens out. There is some up and down but it tends to be fairly mild. Eventually, the trail begins a sustained drop that is less steep than the climb and a blast to allow gravity to do its work.

After about three miles the trail reaches the valley and you continue around to the left towards High Drive, which can be seen when higher up on the trail.

Head down High Drive until you hit pavement. Gold Camp rd and the TH will be a couple hundred feet up and to the left on the left-most of the three roads.


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May 26, 2019
Amy Meyers
May 14, 2019
Terry Smith
First Colorado Hike — 8h 00m
May 12, 2019
Michael Crowe
First hiked years ago
May 5, 2019
Carl Rodriguez
Apr 20, 2019
K Keiter
Apr 14, 2019
Eric Benvenuto
Great Trail... Great Views. Well Marked, but does have some break-offs. 5.9mi — 3h 00m
Apr 7, 2019
Luke Reichold
Apr 3, 2019
Kelly Ligon
12h 09m

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 65 votes


  4.5 from 65 votes
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Intermediate Intermediate

Check out section 16 hike and fly on youtube. Jan 14, 2018
Leif Jacobson
Falcon, CO
Leif Jacobson   Falcon, CO
Hiked today; trail is clear of snow; gorgeous! Love this loop. 4 days ago

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