Pineries Open Space
How much do people of the Pikes Peak region love new trails? If the recent opening of Pineries Open Space was any indication, the answer is a lot.
Not long into the morning of June 27, the parking lot in Black Forest was full, with vehicles lining the entrance road.
Will the trend continue? Hard to say.
Enthusiasts closer to Colorado Springs prefer the mountains and canyons out their back doors. Not frequently do masses travel east to the plains or these flat woods, especially in summer, when the high elevations beckon.
Pineries Open Space will appeal to those wanting to spend a good amount of time in the saddle of their horse or bike or runners looking to log some distance on gentle terrain. Across the region, a 9-mile loop like this is hard to find. Plus, it’s almost entirely singletrack; on opening weekend, word spread among mountain bikers seeking beginner dirt and a new place to take the kids.
The 1,070-acre addition to El Paso County’s parks portfolio came with a warning: Have necessities such as water and snacks. Going halfway and turning around — perhaps at the overlook of a distant Pikes Peak — still means about 9 miles total. No bailouts are available along the loop.
Facing the map at the trailhead, we started left, soon meeting the thin trail through the tall pines. Close to .75 miles, the loop begins. We continued straight, rather than veer right.
The loop tours butterfly meadows, blackened trees from the 2013 wildfire and the sweeping openness of the Palmer Divide, outer portions where you’ll feel as if in no man’s land.
The trail here has a flowy character that sets it apart from nearby networks at Fox Run and Black Forest regional parks. Those are wide and widely undesigned, created by “rogue” users. Fans will hope the same fate doesn’t befall the Pineries.
Trip log: 8.9 miles round trip, 623 feet elevation gain
Difficulty: Distance could be long, but trail never steep
Getting there: 13201 Vollmer Road. Going east on Shoup Road through Black Forest, turn left (north) for Vollmer and see parking lot on right.
FYI: 5 a.m.-9 p.m. April-October, 6 a.m.-6 p.m. November-March. Dogs on leash. No camping.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE