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Adventures with Alan hikes the Palmer Lake Reservoir Trail

Palmer Lake Reservoir AWA
Palmer Lake Reservoir Trail rating guide
Posted at 8:36 PM, Sep 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-05 09:51:18-04

In our exclusive series Adventures with Alan, we'll travel across Southern Colorado week-by-week to show you thrills and chills, 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 can be found right at the base of the trail, but for a fee of $5.30.

Otherwise, you can park closer to town for free, but would need to walk around a half a mile or so to get there.

We opt to the pay the fee for convenience.

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

It's the reason why dogs aren't allowed here. There's also no swimming allowed, along with other rules clearly marked at multiple points on the trail.

Pretty soon after the hike begins, the trail merges with a service road.

It's wide open and well maintained, but there's not a lot of shade.

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

On our hike, we spot what looks like a garter snake.

Moving past our slithering friend, we continue onward towards the first lake, passing gorgeous pine and aspen trees along the way.

After a few steeper grades, we make it to the lower reservoir.

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

We take a break, drink some water and soak in the views.

From the first lake, it's about another half a mile to the second lake, with more quad busting, calf burning steps ahead.

While you won't encounter any switchbacks, expect to do some heavy climbing.

More than a mile into the hike, we come across the second, larger reservoir.

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

There's a few spots to stop along the shore to take some photos, but I would recommend continuing onward to the lake's far end.

That's where in summer you'll pass through a field of wildflowers, and can soak in stunning lake and mountain views.

A gate signifies the end of the trail, but there is an option to carry on further. We do not.

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

Now, let's get to my ratings...

Palmer Lake Reservoir Trail rating guide
Palmer Lake Reservoir Trail rating guide

I must say that I really enjoyed this hike. In fact, I've been back two other times since shooting this story in mid-August.

My main complaint has to do with the lack of shade. My advice would be to come in cooler (and overcast) weather to avoid the sun beating down on you.

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

It's got some challenge to it, with almost a near constant climb from the parking lot to the first reservoir. For that, I scored it 3 out of 5 for difficulty.

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

For fun level, the hike was fun, but again hot without much shade, earning 3 out of 5.

My final score, 4 out of 5 stars.


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