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Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

Palmer Park -- Templeton Trail

Challenging Inner City Wilderness Loop

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 (7 votes, 2 reviews)
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 4.0 miles / 6.4 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
Overview: Palmer Park is one of the largest park/open spaces in the city of Colorado Springs. It contains excellent facilities: dog park, horse stable, riding trails, picnic areas, and for our purposes, hiking trails. My favorite is the four mile loop that circumnavigates the top of the mesa in the center of the park. The Templeton Trail begins and ends at the Yucca Flats trailhead. I suggest hiking clockwise on this trail because the trail signs are easier to read when moving in this direction. The trail is challenging in that you’ll encounter a variety of topography and terrain along the way, rocks and dirt, up and down, zig and zag, more zig and zag combined with up and down. Dogs are allowed on the trail off-leash.

Tips: Directions: Austin Bluffs Pkwy to N Academy Blvd. Go south on Academy to Maizeland Rd. Turn right (east) on Maizeland, go about a quarter mile to the park entrance on the right (Paseo Rd). Proceed into the park, past the athletic fields and the dog park. Go up the hill 1 mile; as the paved road turns left, turn right onto a dirt road (look for sign to Yucca Flats) that then curves left. Follow this to the end. The cul de sac at the end is the trailhead. The beginning of the hike, as I’ve outlined it is on the left side of the circle, about seven o’clock as you’re looking toward the end of the cul de sac.

1. No toilets up here.
2. No water source. It’s only a four mile hike, but if you want a drink, you’ll need to carry water.
3. This trail is open year round. In the winter, snow accumulates on the north facing parts of the trail; so be careful as you approach these sections.

Points of Interest



The trailhead and Yucca Flats trailhead is a popular one because many trails run all over the top of Palmer Park mesa from this point. Templeton Trail begins in the lower left hand corner of the parking lot and ends at the upper right corner. Look for little 4X4 posts in the ground. They have trail direction signs on them. If you get confused at any point, you can climb a trail to the top of the mesa and head back. In the first leg of this hike, you’ll come across a major split in the trail; stay to the right on the branch that leads up the side of the hill. The lower branch runs down to the nature center and stables. If you make a mistake, don’t panic; just cut across the valley and head up hill again.

Mtn View

The entire west side of the mesa gives you spectacular views of Cheyenne Mtn. and Pike’s Peak. After meandering in and out of the small canyons that fall off the side of the mesa, you’ll come around a corner and WHAM!, there they’ll be, with the whole city laid out between you and them.


If you like rock formations, you’ll love this hike. About a half mile of the western side of the mesa presents a bewildering array of cliffs with caves and pockmarks that have been worn into their sides over the millennia. You’ll encounter what look like frozen hail remnants; something landed in the molten rock, left an imprint, and then vanished, leaving only the “egg cup” reminder of its existence.

Rock Rims

Once you turn the corner onto the northern side of the mesa, you’ll think you’ve left the rocks behind. While you walk through the trees two hundred feet above Austin Bluffs Pkwy, be sure to notice the changes in the terrain. On this northern face there is another minor trail split that is not marked. It doesn’t really matter which one you take, except that the left hand one will require more climbing at the end. Also, this face of the mtn. retains snow in the spring; so be careful of your footing if you’re hiking before it all melts. Toward the end of this section, you’ll come across some more fascinating rock formations along the rim of the mesa. Enjoy.
Pictures in this guide taken by: dougknighton
This trail was hard to find at first. I followed the directions but would like to add a few landmarks so it is easier to find. Turn onto the dirt road that is marked by the "Lazy Land" blue sign then drive until you see a parking area. Walk to the "Yucca Flats" blue sign then walk right until you see a small wooden post. The post points to the trailhead. Overall, I really enjoyed the hike a lot. Great scenery! The trail is fairly easy to follow but occasionally the rocks camouflage the trail a few times. I recommend.

by kwarren1970 on Feb 22, 2014
This is one of my favorite hikes. For one, I live in Palmer Park and love hiking in my back yard. There are lots of elevation changes and great views and things to see and admire. Blessed to live in town and have such a beautiful hike.
Visited on May 18, 2013

by mlh2l on May 26, 2013

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About the Author

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Retired Air Force Chaplain who began military life as an Airborne Ranger. Evidently I didn't get enough...

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