Section 16 to Crystal Park Road

Finger Rock                                  Installing the Sutherland Creek Bridge - 1990                                  Building a Section 16 reroute to follow an intermittent stream- 1995

Mileage Chart

Section 16 Trailhead to:
Section 16 Intersection           .8
Crystal Park Road             2.53

Section 16       
Intersection to:      

Section 16 Intersection        NA Waterfall Spur                     .32
Boy Scout Bridge                  .4
Rock Crossing                      .6
Meadow/Red Rock Link     .65
Picnic Rock                        .77
Crystal Hills social trail       1.01
Blue Spruce Glade             1.29
Mica Bed                           1.46
Sutherland Creek Bridge     1.72
Crystal Park Road              1.73

Crystal Pk Road to: 1.73


    The intersection with the Section 16 (Palmer) Trail marks the eastern end of the Paul Intemann Memorial Nature Trail. At this point, you are about 1.7 miles east of the Crystal Park Road trailhead and .8 mile west of the Section 16 trailhead.
     If you continue up the Section 16 Trail, it will become the Palmer-Red Rock Loop Trail and end up on High Drive after about five miles in all.
     To get to the Section 16 Trailhead , turn south on 26th Street from US Highway 24 near Old Colorado City in Colorado Springs. Continue on 26th to the 5-way intersection with Gold Camp Road, Wheeler, and Bear Creek Road. Take Upper Gold Camp Road (right turn) and follow it to the parking lot with the big sign for Section 16.
     The Section 16 trailhead has plenty of off-street parking, although on weekends it's sometimes necessary to park in an auxiliary parking lot (really just a big turnout) a 100 feet or so up the road on the left. There are no sanitary facilities.


     The Crystal Park Road Trailhead is on a public road 1.73 miles from the Section 16 Trail's intersection with the Intemann Trail. The road becomes private about 100 feet up the road (the Crystal Park residential community), so please don't stray off the trail.
     To get to Crystal Park Road, take US Highway 24 west from Colorado Springs towards Manitou. Exit at the first Manitou offramp (onto Manitou Avenue). And continue west under the highway. Take a left at the second stoplight onto Crystal Park Road.
    As you drive up Crystal Park Road, look for the Intemann Trail sign on your left , just below the entrance to the gate for the the Crystal Park residential community. The trail segment through Section 16 starts on the east (left) side of the road. On the west side of the road is a roughly half-mile section leading up to the Manitou Mesa Overlook.

Hiking Guide
A little history: The Intemann Trail between the Section 16 Trail and Crystal Park Road was built between 1987 and 1990. The 1987 project was our first, and let's just say our enthusiasm was probably a little ahead of our construction know-how at that point. As a result, we have rerouted several of the '87 sections since then, usually because the original trail was too steep, had bad drainage, was in a pointless line, or all of the above. One of these reroutes, done in 1995, had the added advantage of taking the trail along an intermittent creek. This led to the construction of the Waterfall Spur in 2001-2002, after we found that the intermittent creek was downstream from an intermittent waterfall.     
     Because both the trailheads for this section are on public roads, it is easy to start from either side. Some people even leave a car at one trailhead, then hike from the other to allow an easy return. For our guide, we'll start from the eastern end, at the Section 16 Trailhead. Follow the Section 16 (Palmer Trail) to the intersection/turnoff for the Intemann Trail. The turnoff is clearly signed, but you can also tell by a large rock formation, called Finger Rock, which begins appearing in its named shape as you near the intersection. Look up at the heights to your left when you're within about 100 feet of the Intemann Trail. The formation looks like a closed hand with a raised index finger.

Hiking the trail near the Intemann turnoff

     The first part of the Intemann Trail is largely populated with scrub (gambel) oak. There are also a variety of flowers and grasses and a few juniper trees. The larger spruce trees do not grow thickly on open slopes, but look for them as you near the Waterfall Spur. You can also find wild onions growing by the side of the trail. These are edible, but very strong smelling. To the east lies Colorado Springs, to the north Manitou Springs and the Garden of the Gods. In the neighboring property (to the north), you can see Garden-esque ridges and a vast meadow (hiding an old garbage dump). This large property, once privately owned, is now the Red Rock Canyon open space. Please stay on the established trails, however, as the landfill is still not cleared for public access.
     The turnoff to the Waterfall Spur is in a forested area near two of our largest rerouted sections. It is about .2 miles to the intermittent falls.

Blue spruce trees in the valley below the intermittent waterfall Flat rocks near the turnoff to the Waterfall Spur

     Follow the trail through the trees to the bridge built by Eagle Scout Andrew Vaughan, colleagues and parents from Boy Scout Troop 127 in August 2000. The bridge crosses the intermittent stream from the falls. [Side note: On the day Andrew and company installed the bridge, a couple of the Boy Scout dads had thought they could run the pre-cut bridge pieces in along the trail using dollies. Suffice it to say the dollies were left behind, and the pieces were lugged in the old-fashioned ITC way.] Continue up a set of switchbacks and up and over a hill and into a small canyon.
     As the trail goes around the sides of the canyon, notice the puzzle- like rockwork near the drainage. This was the handiwork of Frank Brunk at the inaugural trail workday in 1987. Where the trail crosses solid rock face, thank some ITC volunteers and a group of Colorado College students, who took turns using a rock bar to chip the trail wider there in 1999.

Boy Scout troop 127 with their new bridge - 2000          ITC regular Steve Brasen helps chip out a wider trail across a rock face in Section 16 - 1999

     Continue up the slope out of the canyon and into a high meadow. Drainage channeling forced the trail here to be relocated several feet to the east of the original path, but the current timber terracing has allowed the water to flow down the trail without severe rutting.
    About halfway down the meadow, you'll come across the Red Rock Canyon link trail, built in 2005 during a pair of joint workdays with the ITC and the City of Colorado Springs.
     A short downhill takes you to a nice vista on some flat, sandstone rocks, shaded by junipers and pines. This spot, for obvious reasons, has come to be known as Picnic Rock.

Committee members Terri, Rioux and Travers Jordan take a break at Picnic Rock - 2002.

     The trail skirts around to the south of it and curves down back into the trees. This area is sometimes called the Rollercoaster, for its numerous little ups, downs and curves.
     Coming up a sidehill section out of the Rollercoaster, you'll find yourself in an open area of medium-high scrub oak. As you do so, you'll arrive at a signed intersection with a social trail going down to the Crystal Hills neighborhood. This trail also links to the Sand Canyon Trail in the Red Rock Canyon open space. From this point on, if you continue heading west on the Intemann Trail, you will be leaving the 1987 Intemann Trail section. The rest of the trail from here to Crystal Park Road was built in 1989 and 1990. To show we were getting a little better as we went, we've as yet not had to reroute any parts of that section.
     Going west, you begin to get a good view of Manitou Springs to the south. The Manitou Water Tank sits to the south of the trail for most of this section.

The Manitou Water Tank

     The trail slowly gains elevation from here, and you'll eventually find yourself leaving the scrub oaks and getting into shadier areas of pines, junipers and spruces. The high point of this climb is what we call the Blue Spruce Glade. Many a trail workday lunch has been eaten in this glade, due to the shade and comfortable rocks to sit on.
     Heading gradually downhill from the the Blue Spruce glade, (mile 1.42) you'll arrive at a set of switchbacks. Watch out for getting lost on the social trails that lead off the sides of the switchbacks.
     Not far past the switchbacks you'll come across an area featuring tiny shards of mica, scattered along the trail. Mica, in case you didn't know, is one of the several types of Fool's Gold.
     From there, it's mostly downhill to the Sutherland Creek Bridge. On the way, check some of the vistas, including Sheep Mountain to the west, where the trail continues up Manitou Mesa to the Overlook on the other side of Crystal Park Road. A nice little 10-foot waterfall is just upstream. You can see it as the trail reaches the creek before turning right and paralleling it for the last couple hundred feet before reaching the bridge. We installed the Sutherland Creek bridge in 1990, using materials from a bridge that the city of Manitou Springs no longer needed at Schryver Park. Sutherland Creek is a year-round creek which, swollen by flood waters, has twice risen above the level of the bridge (1997 and 1999).

Assembling the Bridge          Lunch on the Sutherland Creek Bridge

     Walk about 50 feet from the bridge and you've arrived at Crystal Park Road. On the other side of the road, the trail continues up Manitou Mesa to the west to a dead-end at the Overlook on Sheep Mountain.
     To get back to town from the Crystal Park Road Trailhead, take the road north to Manitou Avenue. After a couple blocks, Manitou Avenue crosses under Highway 24.
     For more trail guide sections, select from the Trailhead Links at the bottom of the page.

Sutherland Creek Bridge - Flood of 1999 Crystal Park Road Trailhead Dedication - May 1991

Trailhead Links
Section 16 to Crystal Park Road      Manitou Mesa to the Overlook*      Manitou Cemetery to the Tot Lot*
Tot Lot to Pawnee*      Pawnee to the Iron Spring*      The Red Mountain Spur*      The Waterfall Spur*