Reservoirs trail, Palmer Lake

At the height of the pandemic last year, leaders in the town of Palmer Lake temporarily closed a massively popular trail. A similar move was made south at the Manitou Incline (the closure lasted five months before online reservations were instituted). And leaders in similarly small Green Mountain Falls to the west raised concerns, too, about hiking masses.

The stated worry was the potential spread of COVID-19. But the virus underscored previous tension in these geographically confined hamlets on the Front Range.

A certain trail in Palmer Lake has been subject to overcrowding in the summer, a result of droves from the state’s two largest cities in either direction. The secret has long been out in Colorado Springs and Denver: the trail skirting a pair of reservoirs is a must-hike.

So Palmer Lake finds itself grappling with an ever-rising issue across Colorado. Perhaps the best chance for outsiders to keep their privileges: be respectful, practice Leave No Trace principles and try going on a weekday. And maybe buy an ice cream cone or lunch or something in town.

The trail is wide and straightforward, ascending steeply at first. Other online reports describe it as a “backcountry introduction.” And it’s true: The broad, evergreen walls of the canyon lend a remote feeling.

Cool down at the first reservoir reached in about a half-mile. The path rises onward to the much bigger reservoir, a scene reminiscent of Colorado’s signature alpine lakes. It’s worth exploring along the shore frequented by anglers. The water is bordered by a peaceful meadow and towering rock outcrops.

Trip log: 3.9 miles round trip (out and back), 821 feet elevation gain

Difficulty: Moderate

Getting there: Going north on Interstate 25, take exit 161 for Colorado 105 toward Monument/Palmer Lake. Follow 105 west to Palmer Lake. Turn left on South Valley Road into the neighborhood, then left on Old Carriage Road, which leads down to the trailhead. Parking often full. Consider parking half-mile away on Lower Glenway Street at the baseball field.

FYI: Hiking only. No dogs. Stay out of water.

SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE

Load comments