In 1869, Gen. William Jackson Palmer camped in this area, and thanks to his efforts Palmer Park was set aside as an island of foothills habitat in the heart of Colorado Springs. The plants are more reminiscent of foothills habitat, and the only place you’ll find ponderosa pines farther east is the Black Forest area. Among the unique rock formations, there is something here for everyone, with many miles of trails for all skill levels.

During the busy holiday season, Palmer Park provides an easy escape into nature. The wide and flat Yucca and Mesa Trails are a great option for winter hiking and snowshoeing. From Interstate 25, head east on Fillmore Street for about 2 miles to Union Boulevard, where Fillmore becomes North Circle Drive, and continue straight for about one-half of a mile to Paseo Road. Turn left on Paseo Road and enter the park after about a mile. Continue uphill for another one-half of a mile to an intersection, and turn left. Bear left again at the next fork; after about one-fourth of a mile, the road ends at a large parking area.

Take the Yucca Trail to the right, next to the shrubby area. Stay on the Yucca Trail as it winds its way north and west for about a mile, where it takes a sharp left turn and heads southeast. Continue as the trail swings southwest and in about one-fourth of a mile hits a T intersection. Turn left here on the Mesa Trail and follow it east and south back to the parking area.

The flat terrain is covered in grassland with an abundance of yucca in addition to shrubby areas that provide cover for wintering American tree sparrows. The mesa is the high point of the park and provides some sweeping views of the surrounding city.

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 joelafleur@tds.net. 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.

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