Explore the most popular hiking 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 loop is closer to 30 miles long. is a great loop but expect more than 21 miles.

The dog restriction is unfortunate but was bound to happen. We would frequently hike out dog poop that others had left behind on this trail. To add insult to injury, the town didn’t have any disposal bins at the trailhead, so often times we would have to drive into town to dispose of the waste properly...that certainly didn’t help matters, I’m sure. I wish there was a way to punish the irresponsible dog owners and not all of all of us (some poop cams following by some social media shaming?) because this is bound to happen on all of our trails. If the city willing to spend money to have police officers patrol the trail, then please ticket the people not following the rules instead of punishing all of us. It’s frustrating to the good dog owners out here who are cleaning up after the bad ones.

22 days ago

Really beautiful and a great walk

one of our favs in the area.

This trail was OPEN yesterday-rough ascent and descent due to steep incline and trail conditions but worth it for views at top. Palmer lake police were patrolling it to enforce no dogs rule.


Trail closed due to erosion. No repairs are in progress. The gate blocking the road is closed and they placed tons of barbed wire as a deterrent as well.

This trail is indeed closed for repair.

I do love this trail and am sad that it is closed due to erosion. It was my daily go to hike for a quick way to get out of doors. As for the folks that are condemning this trail because of the No Dogs Allowed policy, that is something you can blame on irresponsible dog owners. The town folk are not dog haters and there were plenty of warnings prior to the move to forbid dogs on this trail stating that people need to clean up after their furry friends or they would not be allowed. I've seen this time and time again on numerous trails where people don't pick up after their dogs and in this case, it is not only an unsightly and smelly problem, but it is bad for this environment particularly given that these reservoirs feed the town of Palmer Lake their water. Would you want someone's dog pooping near your water supply and the owners just leaving it there? Seriously, if everyone would take responsibility for packing out whatever they take in, things would be so much more pleasant for all.

As of two weeks ago the lake side of the loop was closed. There are signs at the beginning that note that. We trekked on and took the advice of others and went up the steep portion first. Not easy to find so definitely download the map and have it open and hunt for the river and a low point to cross. If you follow the easily marked trail at the beginning you are on the wrong path. Once headed up, it’s definitely nearly straight up for about 1.5 miles. I’d recommend trekking poles for support. Up you can manage without them, down they are nearly a must have. It’s a good workout on the way up. Towards the top there are lots of large “balanced” rocks you can climb on. We decided to chance it and kept going down the lake side hoping it wasn’t closed to hikers but just cars. Saw a few campers and evidences of rock slides they have been repairing. Eventually you get to a locked gate when that portion is closed. Was able to go around the side (steep and some barbed wire but passable) and get back to the beginning where we parked. Definitely enjoyed the loop more than an out and back. Hopefully it’s open now after repairs have been firmed up.

Drove an hour to get to this trail with my BEAUTIFUL german shepard and pit bull and got there to realize that this is a no dog trail with an $800 dollar fine, what a hateful decision to make, our fluffy creators deserve to come with us on trails, to whoever complained this much about dogs being on trails SHAME ON YOU, way to ruin a great day, thanks for being so entitled. will not be coming back. 0/10

Notice posted saying trail was closed, and there are no dogs allowed!!!

Trail closed for repairs. Multiple signs

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.

This trail was mostly incline on the way up, but the lake was so beautiful and peaceful, it was worth it! we set up hammocks and hung out for a few hours enjoying ourselves!

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

2 months 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.

TRAIL IS CLOSED!! If people would have read the reviews on here first they would have known BF they drove down that dogs were banned. I posted this the day after the ban went into effect. Now it is closed for repairs & there is a good possibility it will Never reopen. In the last couple of years we have had increased problems not only with irresponsible dog owners but people spraying profane graffiti on the rocks, cutting trails & other general disrespect. This is happening Nationwide. It's disgusting & makes me angry.

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.

2 months ago

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.

Load More