Explore the most popular birding trails near Palmer Lake with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

This trail no longer allows dogs. $800 penalties are posted for bringing a dog. Trailhead signs warn about recent mountain lion and rabid skunk sightings. We only saw squirrels and an eagle. The main trail to the two reservoirs is a dirt road with nice views of the water. The loop called La Deux-Ice Cave Creek includes the main reservoir trail but has no markings for the smaller trail turn-offs in order to complete the loop. It also has multiple intersections with other trails where we needed to orient to north and use AllTrails to make sure we stayed on the correct trail. The part of the trail that follows the creek is lovely but also has some steep drop-offs and a few places with tricky footing and washouts. A few short steep parts elsewhere were very rutted from washouts. Multiple creek crossings all had logs or rocks to balance on and keep feet dry. We measured the trail distance at 4.67 miles rather than 3.8. It's a nice hike, more shaded and less traveled when you get off the main reservoir route. I would rate it higher if it had better signage for the alternate routes and had less pipes and other ugly utility structures on its main road.

This has (or, rather, had) become one of my favorite hikes. However, just within the last month or so, the town of Palmer Laker (presumably driven by a few dog haters) has completely banned dogs from the trail.
It was bad enough last time I did it (about 6 weeks) ago -- they had plastered the trail with DOZENS of signs stating "Dogs must be on leash" -- it was literally visual pollution.
But, apparently that wasn't good enough for the haters, so now dogs are banned. I didn't notice the sign at the trailhead (I've hiked it 5-6 times, why would I read the signs), but saw it after we'd done the hard part and gotten to the first reservoir. This is a foolish and hateful decision by the town.

Mostly incline on the way up, but the views are worth it! Beautiful!

I just moved from Florida so I’m still getting used to the altitude change but not hard otherwise. Beautiful place for picnic at the second lake. Very serene by the water.

We didn't make it all the way around - also couldn't find the left (southern) fork at the beginning! It was very steel for about 1.5 miles, the kids were dying (I blame video games.) But we found some great rocks to jump on and will go back for a second attempt.

Beautiful hike, mostly uphill going in with a few flat breaks. Reservoirs are lovely. Kids ages 4-7 and grandparents age 60 had a great time.

Great trail. Scenic, very challenging

hiking
12 days ago

As others have said the ascent from the parking lot going up to Chautauqua peak is steep with many small switchbacks. There are also at least three false summits, so don’t get any ideas you’ve made it the first time. But each viewpoint is worthwhile.
I did not like cutting through the neighborhoods on the way back to the parking lot. I would recommend taking the road back down by the reservoir and out that way.

The first leg of this trail up to and along the reservoir (roughly 1.5 miles) had excellent views and a nice wide small gravel road that was ideal for my family. My wife and I took this trail and backpacked our 2 and 4 year olds and it was a good workout. That said, please be very careful and aware of the turn back toward the reservoir on the ice cave creek section. It is not marked and we missed it and ended up off course on Swank Trail then had to back track, and on the recommendation of a hiker cut over to the Sundance valley trail which was a very steep climb and descent back to the reservoir with a kid on your back! Our 3.8 turned into 6.6. It was a very nice trail, but be aware of the turn back and would not recommend the Sundance valley section with kids.

Please note that an emergency ordinance was just issued by the town of Palmer Lake and NO DOGS are allowed on the trail because people could not follow the rules.

Nice 2 hour hike. The start is pretty steep so I would rate this moderate to hard. We ended up taking the road back past the Palmer reservoirs which are scenic.

This is our favorite trail. We have several geocaches on here and today we decided to hike from the Palmer Lake side and it’s a lot easier to hike, but longer. Trail is in full bloom from the recent rainfall.

Nice wander through the forest for a morning hike.

Hiked the whole loop this morning with my daughters 7 & 4 and we are occasional hikers. Just so that others know that hiking with kids is fine. We started on the right side of the loop, which is a gentle ascend to the summit. The descend is steep but still doable, I have seen worse than this. Although I believe starting from the left side of the loop would be better so that you do the steep section first and I think ascending the steep section would be easier than descending the same. The whole trail is well shaded and you won’t need to put on sunscreen. For the first timers: the left side of the loop might not be recognizable but basically just go left as soon as you enter the trailhead and look for some trail. Fun part: we weren’t able to spot the balanced rock! may be we were having a lot of fun with our group!

The hike up is hard. Once you get to the second lake - it’s so, so beautiful!!! Go in the early morning.
You’ll see raspberries, wild blue berries and MANY flowers. Police DO patrol the area so follow the rules.

Steady up climb for over a mile, then easy. Nice lake and distance views with some interesting Rick formations. Most of the hike is in the sun but we had a very nice breeze.

Great 5 mile loop. Short side of Chautauqua Mountain is extremely steep. I would recommend climbing the steep side first and descending balanced rock and Palmer reservoir side. The best views come from the mountains after Chautauqua.

good incline, good views.

Nice gravel trail, just wish there was more shade.

A very beautiful hike all the way through. Mostly up hill but not that tiring

Easy hike and so, so beautiful! Perfect for families, too.

So beautiful, nice moderate hike!

beautiful busy trail

This was a great little hike! my 10 yr old son was a little discouraged at what appeared to be a "never-ending" uphill trek. However, after several rest and water breaks we made it to the far side of the 2nd reservoir - took us just over 1.5 hrs. We set up our hammock and he admitted that it was well worth the hike! The downhill took us just over 40 minutes - that included a few stops to play on a few of the boulders. Definitely a thumbs up!

Beautiful hike! Wild strawberries, raspberries and roses. But heads up the road up to the hike is sketchy!!! Dirt road with lots of bumps and boulders and a sheer drop off on the side. Very narrow in several places. I was glad we brought my husbands suv because there is no way my car would have made it up!

Great hike with beautiful views!

This trail was harder than I was expecting. A lot of really really long steep areas and loose gravel areas that made me fall several times. Great workout and was deserted on a Saturday night (only saw two hikers and a couple mountain bikers the entire hike). Trail starts (or ends) walking through a neighborhood for a long time which is sorta odd but there’s areas of this hike that are really beautiful.

Nice short hike to a beautiful little lake

Great hike close by! Nice steady incline to the reservoir. Some shade along the way. Beautiful lake views. Definitely ok for kids and pets/ just keep them out of the water and clean up!

Beautiful area but please remember that dogs and people are NOT allowed in the water ever and dogs must be leashed. Also it is not an area that allows shooting and currently there is a fire ban. There are multiple signs up about this but I guess people just don't notice them? CO Fish and Wildlife was up and enforcing the rules thankfully, I'm sure they issued several tickets based on what I saw today. Suggest getting there early as it gets crowded during the summer, or going in the off season. Fall is a pretty time to go up with less crowds. Nice place to go if you live nearby and want to squeeze in a short hike with pretty views without driving too far. I believe there are other trails branching off this one too but I have yet to explore them.

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