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The nicest family-friendly trail you never heard of 

A common question I get when describing a trail to someone is whether or not the trail is family or kid friendly. Of course, the answer depends on many things, such as the child's ability, experience, etc.

I usually take the safe way out and tell parents that they know their family better than anyone, and they have to make their own decisions, based on the trail information I provide. On the other hand, some trails are just obviously well suited for a family outing, such as this week's trail.

The Palmer Divide Trail
, part of the El Paso County Parks Department inventory of parks and trails, is a nice family-friendly trail that many people have likely never heard of. At approximately 4 miles round trip, the wide, well-groomed trail is an enjoyable trip for hikers, kids in strollers, cyclists and equestrians.

click to enlarge Old farm silo on the Palmer Divide Trail - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Old farm silo on the Palmer Divide Trail

Starting at the intersection of Hodgen and Woodlake Roads (east of Black Forest and north of Falcon), the trail winds along the Kiowa Creek, past wetlands, the remnants of an old farm, and around an earthen dam, all the while with great views of Pikes Peak in the distance.

There are many opportunities to enjoy birding and wildflowers. As the trail follows the creek, it winds its way between housing developments on both sides. The houses are on multi-acre lots and set well back from the trail, so one never feels crowded or as an accidental voyeur, like on urban neighborhood trails. The presence of the houses doesn't detract from a nice, family friendly user experience. 

According to the El Paso County Parks Department, this trail will eventually continue southwest, through the soon-to-be-opened Pineries Regional Park, and into Black Forest Section 16, pending the acquisition of easements, etc. There is no estimation, however, on when the trail will be completed.
 
click to enlarge Tall grass, blue skies and Pikes Peak from the Palmer Divide Trail - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Tall grass, blue skies and Pikes Peak from the Palmer Divide Trail

Things You Need To Know:
The trailhead and large parking lot is at the intersection of Hodgen and Woodlake Roads. The trail is open to equestrians, cyclists and foot traffic, but no motorized vehicles. There are no facilities at the trailhead. Dogs must be leashed. The trail borders private properties, so stay on the trail and do not take any of the many single-track side trails. Although it's not signed, the trail ends when it goes from a wide, graded trail to a single-track. Turn around there to avoid trespassing on private property. 

click to enlarge The Palmer Divide Trail. The trailhead is at the upper right corner. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • The Palmer Divide Trail. The trailhead is at the upper right corner.

Be Good. Do Good Things.

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for  almost 28 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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