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The Jellyfish at Palmer Park

Colorado Springs, Colorado , United States
11 mi



ft elev +


During the winter and shoulder seasons, I'm willing to put up with some fairly flat, boring, paved, monotonous rides that I'd never tolerate in the summer. It's therefore a pleasure to discover trails that drain quickly after winter storms and are also fun and rowdy. Palmer Park is at least as much fun as Oil Well Flats and--if you live in Denver--half the drive.

We had two minor complaints about the Palmer trail network. It's easy to get lost. Maps at the trailhead are too faded to interpret, and while there are signs where official trails diverge, countless unofficial and unmarked trails are a constant confusion. But whatever. It's not the Sahara--you'll be fine. Second, the park likely gets very crowded on the weekend, as it's surrounded by Colorado's second largest city. 
Because of the nature of the network, it's tough to discern out exact route. It doesn't matter much--trails here seem fun to ride in either direction. For the sake of narration, imagine that our route on the above map is a jellyfish. We started with the tentacles, some of which represent intermediate trails. The Cheyenne Trail is an expert trail, but it's great. If you can ride Matthews Winters you can ride the Cheyenne Trail. There are some tricky features but little elevation gain/loss, so the riding isn't strenuous.
At the tip of the jellyfish's lowest-hanging tentacle is a little overlook that's a great place to eat snacks. If you're like me (and for your sake I hope you're not), then the lookout's one tree will make you think of U2's song about One Tree Hill, and then you'll have to put up with listening to that internal broadcast for the remainder of the afternoon.
Because it's winter, and we are old, and slow, and tired, and weak, and out of shape, and enfeebled, and whiny, we didn't ride much of the gnar inside the head of the jellyfish. The blue trail we did take (Palmer Point Trail) offers plenty of alternate, technical lines. 
If you like riding places like Hartman Rocks and Oil Well Flats, you'll like Palmer Park. If you like riding dry trails in February, you'll like Palmer Park. If you like horse poop, you'll like Palmer Park. If you like U2, well then you still haven't found what you're looking for.