El Paso County has announced the long-awaited opening of Pineries Open Space, the newest addition to the county's park system, on Saturday, June 27.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, no grand opening ceremony will be held.
The Pineries Open Space Master Plan was completed in 2010. In 2013, the site was extremely damaged by the Black Forest Fire, which significantly delayed the opening of the site, located at 13201 Volmer Road (.6 miles north of the intersection of Vollmer and Shoup) in Black Forest.
The 1,067-acre site straddles the Palmer Divide in the Black Forest and is “characterized by gently rolling terrain, including a subtle ridgeline that is part of the Palmer Divide, separating the Lower Platte and Arkansas River Watersheds. The terrain is dominated by ponderosa pine forest and with a sparse understory composition, including kinnikinnick, squaw current, mountain mahogany, blue grama, western wheatgrass, needle and thread, and mountain muhly, per a 2016 Rocky Mountain Field Institute report. Several culturally modified Ute Trees are located on the property.
The land is dotted with small ponds with abundant wildlife, including elk, white tail deer, raptors and turkeys according to a news release El Paso County. The Palmer Land Trust holds a conservation easement on the site which ensures scenic, wildlife, aesthetic, recreational and ecological conservation values will be preserved and maintained in perpetuity, states the release.
Phase 1 improvements include 1,067 acres of scenic open space, approximately 8.5 miles of single-track trail, a trailhead and a public restroom. The site will be open from dawn to dark.
The trail connects two regional trails, the Black Forest Section 16 Trail, to the southwest, and the Woodlake Trail, to the northeast of the property, and is "one of the longest hikes in the area, all contained in one open space,” County Park Planner Ross Williams told The Tribune in March.
"It will be an opportunity for people to see what the burn areas look like from the Black Forest Fire, see how the ground and vegetation comes back. And in places where trees are still there, it will be a very relaxing and quiet hike.”