Adventures with Alan Hikes the Palmer Lake Reservoir Trail


In our exclusive Adventures with Alan series, we’ll travel through southern Colorado week after week to show you thrills, hidden gems and well-known spots.

Not far from town, on the west side of Highway 105, is the Palmer Lake Reservoir trailhead.

It’s easy to find and parking is right at the foot of the trail, but for a fee of $5.30.

Otherwise, you can park closer to town for free, but you’ll have to walk about half a mile to get there.

We choose to pay the fee for convenience.

The trail provides access to two beautiful mountain lakes that provide drinking water to the town of Palmer Lake.

That’s why dogs are not allowed here. There is also no swimming allowed, along with other rules clearly marked at several points along the trail.

Shortly after starting the hike, the trail merges into a service road.

It’s wide open and well maintained, but there isn’t much shade.

It’s a peaceful hike even on hot summer days, but you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for any wildlife.

During our hike, we see what looks like a garter snake.

Passing our crawling friend, we continue to the first lake, passing beautiful pines and aspens along the way.

After some steeper slopes, we arrive at the lower reservoir.

The lake is relatively small, but the water clear and inviting.

We take a break, drink water and enjoy the view.

From the first lake it’s about a half mile to the second lake, with more steps forward for quads and scorching calves.

Although you won’t encounter any switchbacks, expect some heavy climbing.

Over a mile into the hike, we encounter the second, larger reservoir.

Although there is no swimming or boating here, you can bring your rod and reel (fishing is only allowed on the upper reservoir).

There are a few places to stop along the shore for photos, but I would recommend continuing to the end of the lake.

This is where in the summer you will walk through a field of wildflowers and enjoy stunning views of the lake and mountains.

A gate means the end of the trail, but there is an option to continue further. We dont do.

Instead, we hike back down, making sure to enjoy the scenery and our peaceful surroundings along the way.

Now on to my notes…

KOAA Charts

Palmer Lake Reservoir Trail Rating Guide

I have to say I really enjoyed this hike. In fact, I’ve been back there two more times since filming this story in mid-August.

My main complaint is the lack of shade. My advice would be to come on a cooler (and overcast) day to avoid the sun beating down on you.

The hike according to my GPS software was just over 3.6 miles and about 650 vertical feet.

There is a challenge ahead, with an almost constant climb from the parking lot to the first reservoir. For this, I rated it 3 out of 5 for difficulty.

The scenery is surprisingly beautiful for being so close to town. 4 out of 5.

On the fun level, the hike was fun, but again warm without too much shade, earning 3 out of 5.

My final rating, 4 stars out of 5.


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