From 21st Street, turn right on Lower Gold Camp Road and head west for about 1 mile to Bear Creek Road. Turn left and head southwest for about 1 mile to a hairpin turn where Bear Creek Road and Gold Camp Road connect. There is a parking area here, and also along the left shoulder of Bear Creek Road.
From the parking area, hike southwest on High Drive (closed to vehicles) and along Bear Creek. After about 1 mile, keep a sharp eye for a post on the right and follow the well-traveled yet unsigned trail that heads northwest. The trail winds around and climbs into montane conifer forest with some fine views of Tenney Crags to the left. After about 2 miles, there is an unsigned intersection. Be sure to make a sharp right, heading eastward on the Palmer Trail. Going left on the social trail will lead you toward Manitou Springs and private property.
Continue east and north for about 1 mile to a signpost for Palmer Trail that points left, a great area for a snack break and a scenic view. From here, the trail drops to the north and east. Expect deeper snow depths on the shady north-facing slope. After about three-fourths of a mile, hikers will encounter some red sandstone formations and the trail turns southeast, becoming the Section 16 Trail. As you descend back into mountain shrubland, expect to observe birds like spotted towhees and Woodhouse’s scrub jays. After about one-half of a mile, the trail heads southward for about three-fourths of a mile to the Section 16 trailhead at Gold Camp Road. Cross the road and continue another one-half mile on a trail to Bear Creek Road, then turn right and walk up the road to the parking area.
Joe LaFleur has lived in southern Colorado since 2016 and is a hiking enthusiast who hits the trails weekly. Contact Joe with questions or feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hiking is great exercise, but can be hazardous. Always be sure to plan well, check the weather, bring a printed map, tell someone where and when you are going, and contact them when you return safely.