Hiking is one of my greatest joys. Research shows that 20 minutes in nature . . . hiking, walking, bouldering, seeing things and breathing fresh air can completely hard reset your outlook. I absolutely believe it. One thing I wish I had done from the start of my hiking life was chronicled it . . . . blogged the hike, the terrain, the experiences. When we traveled in Hawaii, I followed several blogs that led me to local turtle beaches, great family restaurants and experiences I would not have wanted to miss. I'm not hoping to be someone's hiking travel guide, but sometimes . . . . it would help if you were hiking with 3 kids under 4 to know that the terrain on this one is up, up, up. Maybe you're just getting back into hiking boots after knee surgery and would like to know that what is up, up, up is also down, down, down. On gravel.
Palmer Lake(s). Like I said, I'm not an expert. My oldest daughter's volleyball team mates like to do this hike and have done it several times this summer. It's NOT "the" Palmer Lake, but rather the back entry that goes up to the twin reservoirs. It's beautiful, but I feel like that's a bit of a given with a hike through the foothills of Colorado. Of course it's beautiful and that shouldn't be why you go. Parking for this one is hard to find. I'll do more detailed instructions later because, in all honest, I can't remember. I know you go into Palmer Lake, take a left before you hit "the" lake and then wiggle through a neighborhood, sort of take another left on a marked (not marked well, so keep your eye peeled for a little sign on the right), very skinny side street that takes you down a winding one way road to parking and a trailhead. Again, more later. Once you find it, parking is good. Open to sun. Trailhead is to the west.
On the day we did this one, we went mid-day on a weekend. Trail was busy with lots of dogs. If you can manage to hike mid-week, I strongly recommend it, just for lessened trail traffic. The trail is gravel and uphill for a large part of it. It does level off but it's quite a long jaunt in, open to sun, minimal shade. The views are through a craggy canyon and are, of course, beautiful. On the ascent to the lakes, you can hear a stream but there is not water . . . nothing to frolic, play in, let your dog drink from . . . . it's just gravel, dusty, up, up, up. The first lake appears on the left and the second, again on the left just beyond. The best part of this hike is the far side of the lake when it really opens up into the back. Rockslides and terrain have altered the back of the lake trail so it's closed to loop, thus . . it's an out and back hike. There are side excursions off of this trail, but the main trail is an out and back. To date, we have not done any of the side hikes (but would like to do Dome Rock at some point.)
Blogger disclaimer: I am NOT a trail guide. I am not a tour guide. I'm me, writing on what I prefer and what my kids prefer. So in writing the next piece, know that I've contemplated my favorite hikes and what they showcase. My favorite hikes are loops. I like a loop much more than an out an back, simply for the variety in terrain. I quite enjoy a hike that is woodsy, mountainous with some ups, some downs, some shade, some meadows, a bit of water and for a truly great experience, bridges or waterfalls, too. I know, I want the whole hiking enchilada. Palmer Lakes' twin reservoirs is lacking some of that for me and my kiddos, but like I said . . . it's still beautiful, we still love the hike and we'll do it again and again :)