Section 16, Black Forest
Colorado Springs hikers and mountain bikers treasure a local trail that satisfies their hunger for elevation and provides sweeping views of evergreen slopes. Off Gold Camp Road, Section 16 is a favorite for a quick, wild escape. Not too far but in a drastically different environment, a trail bears the same name and is a favorite for the same reason.
Some might argue over the "wild" part, though.
Black Forest's Section 16 feels as if it's in a different state, somewhere flatter. Though less rugged than the Springs' Section 16, this loop trail is beloved by the rural community to the high plains out east.
The Black Forest Trails Association maintains it is the most popular trail in the area. That group built the wide, gravel square path in this 640-acre plot of ponderosa pine - the far-reaching woods that give Black Forest its name. The volunteers had in mind their local outdoor lovers, many of whom prefer to take in the fresh air on horseback. This Section 16 is widely appreciated by riders, who have plenty of room in the parking lot for their trailers.
The trail also might be appreciated by runners who like a smooth surface and consider 4 miles satisfactory. And they might like the coolness of the shady woods mixed with aspen. The mountain biker fueled by burn and adrenaline will stick to the Section 16 back in the foothills.
Devotees of that trail likely would miss the overlooks, rocks and waterfall. Something to appreciate in the flatter trail might be the deer and foxes known to frequent it or the simple, miraculous fact that 2013's Black Forest fire largely spared this place.
Trip log: 4 miles round trip (loop), 241-foot elevation gain, 7,612 feet max
Getting there: Off Interstate 25, exit for Woodmen Road heading east. Turn left on Black Forest Road, right on Vollmer Road and left on Burgess Road. The parking lot will be on your right.
FYI: Multiuse, nonmotorized trail. Dogs on leash.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE