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On Walkabout On: Palmer Park’s Templeton Trail

Basic Information

  • Name: Templeton Trail
  • Where: Palmer Park in Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Distance: 3.9 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • More Information: Colorado Springs website

GPS Map & Elevation


I recently woke up early and decided to get some exercise by completing a hike at Colorado Springs’ expansive Palmer Park. Palmer Park is another outstanding park in the Colorado Springs city limits. I have said this before, but I think there are few cities in the US that can compete with the Springs in regards to having the best public parks in the country. Palmer Park is another example of the city’s great parks. Here is a beautiful view of Pikes Peak from the park’s Sentinel Point:

Like many other parks in the Springs area this land became a park thanks to a wealthy philanthropist:

The area that is now Palmer Park was once owned by Matt France, the earliest recorded owner. In 1873, France sold his property to Henry Austin who used this property to raise sheep. The general area became known as Austin Bluffs, and a major road in the area is named after this man as Austin Bluffs Parkway. The land was later purchased by, and is named for, William Jackson Palmer the founder of Colorado Springs, whose estate donated the land to Colorado Springs in 1907. The area is now a Colorado Springs Regional Park, and the largest park inside of the metro area. [Wikipedia]

The park today is the largest in the city at 730 acres in size and features many trails. The trail I decided to hike is the Templeton Trail featured in The Best Colorado Springs Hikes (Colorado Mountain Club Pack Guides) book that has been a hiking Bible for me the past year. The trail begins on top of a large Mesa called Yucca Flats:

There are many trails on the mesa, but here is the trailhead for Templeton Trail:

Just a short distance from the trailhead the trail descends and follows the lower perimeter of the mesa:

With the amount of social trails breaking off from the main trails it can sometimes be confusing on which direction to go.  Fortunately there are enough of these trail markers along the route to help hikers stay on the right path:

It isn’t too long before the first of many interesting sandstone rock formations comes into view:

These sandstone rock formations that have been carved out by erosion over the centuries are called hoodoos:

There are many other areas around the city to see hoodoos, but Palmer Park has the highest concentration of them:

This rock which is called the Sunrise Sentinel is one of the most impressive rock formations in the park:

Eventually the trail reaches the northern extremity of the park which borders the busy Austin Bluffs Parkway:

On the hills across the street is an indication of what Palmer Park would have looked like if the land was not set aside as a park.  It is likely that homes would fill up the valley floor and large mansions would have been built on the high plateaus:

From the western edge of the park I had some great views of the 14,115 foot Pikes Peak towering over the city of Colorado Springs:

You can read more about Pikes Peak from my prior posting describing my hike up the mountain:


  • On Walkabout On: Pikes Peak, Colorado


I also had views looking towards the southwest of the 11,499 foot Mt. Rosa:

You can read my prior posting about my hike up Mt. Rosa at the below link:


  • On Walkabout On: Mt. Rosa, Colorado


Here is a closer look of another great Colorado Springs park that could be seen in the distance, Red Rock Canyon Open Space:

Here is a close up view of my favorite Colorado Springs park, the Garden of the Gods:

Here is also a close up view of the burn scar that is easily seen in the distance from the June 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire:

As the trail began to skirt the western side of the mesa there was noticeably more trees growing on the steep cliff sides:

Like other areas around the city this abundance of trees is because this side of the mesa does not see as much sunshine as the western side.  This difference in sunlight allows moisture such as snow to remain longer on this side of the mesa and thus promote better tree growth.  The western side of the mesa may have had more trees, but it is thin on spectacular rock formations.  Most of the rock formations are just cliff sides like the one pictured below:

As I rounded the southwest corner of the Templeton Trail I had a nice view looking towards Cheyenne Mountain with downtown Colorado Springs visible below it:

You can read more about Cheyenne Mountain at the below link:


On Walkabout At: Cheyenne Mountain State Park


Even farther out in the distance I could see the 12,347 foot Greenhorn mountain to the right and the even larger Spanish Peaks out in the distance on the left which rise to 13,626 feet:

You can read about both my hikes up these mountains at the below links:

From the southwestern corner of the trail the path becomes noticeably rougher and the trees have thinned out a bit:

The path still had some nice views of the surrounding area to include Pikes Peak:

I could see ahead of me that the trail was about to enter a heavily forested canyon:

Once I entered the canyon I could see on the opposite side that there would be some interesting rock formations to check out once I got over there:

I was not disappointed when the trail reached the other side of the canyon.  The rock formations on this part of the trail are known as the Valley of the Druids and its most impressive rock is called the Druid Priest:

Here is another view of the Druid Priest:

Here is a picture of some of the Druid Priest’s helpers:

Here is another impressive rock formation down the trail a short ways from the druids:

From here it is a short walk back to the trailhead.  Along the way back I took in some more views of Pikes Peak and noticed that there is a large horse ranch in the middle of the city that borders Palmer Park:

After doing an Internet search I found that this is the Mark Reyner Stables and they do offer horseback rides around Palmer Park.  This is something I definitely plan to check out some time in the future.


Overall, Palmer Park is a real gem of place for people that live in Colorado Springs.  For people visiting out of town with little time in the city a visit to the park is not a must see.  However, if you are someone who likes to get up early to get some exercise, Palmer Park is a great place to go either running on the paved roads or trails that traverse all over the park.  Not only will you get a great run in, but can enjoy some of the best views of the city from this great park.

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