Section 16 loop trail photos

Section 16 loop trail photos

Photos taken on the Section 16 loop trail (AKA Palmer Red Rocks trail) west of Colorado Springs, June 8, 2011.

Copyright (c) 2011, Sandra J. Loosemore. Photos are provided for personal viewing only; no other use is permitted without prior written consent.

View from the trailhead on Gold Camp Road.

Blue penstemons growing on the sunny slope.

Western salsify, a relative of the dandelion.

Opuntia cactus.

The trail climbs up rapidly at the start -- here's a view looking back at the trailhead.

Mountain mahogany growing amongst scrub oak. This is a shrub or small tree that is in the rose family.

As the trail curves around to the north, it bypasses this red sandstone outcropping.

The outcropping is a continuation of the same formation that makes up the Red Rocks open space (in the middle distance) and Garden of the Gods (farther in the distance).

This member of the aster family is quaintly called "Perky Sue".

Continuing the uphill slog on the trail, heading more or less due west at this point.

A patch of Golden Banners, a member of the pea family.

The trail makes a turn into a gulch that opens towards the northeast. It's still a steep uphill slog, but at least it's in the shade.
Here's a patch of pussytoes growing as a low mat.

Chokecherry growing in a sunny clearing about halfway up the gulch.

Looking back down on the Red Rocks.

The end is in sight?

One last look back at Garden of the Gods to the northeast.

And, here's the top of the ridge, finally; looking southward across Bear Creek Canyon, with Cheyenne Mountain in the distance.

Looking more to the west, this is Sentinel Rock (also known as the Tenney Crags), a very visible landmark from the southern part of Colorado Springs.

After reaching the ridge, the trail crosses over to the other side and makes a right turn to contour around the canyon (heading mostly west) here. It's still uphill, but not nearly as steep as the earlier parts of the trail.

Now you start to get views to the east, looking out of Bear Creek Canyon.

More blue penstemons along the trail here.

Yuccas growing alongside the trail, which has flattened out at its high point at a saddle on the ridge.
A purple one-sided penstemon, with a busy bee.

This looks like Early Bluetop Fleabane, growing in a patch of kinnikinnick.

I think these are cutleaf daisies; note that the leaves are very different from the fleabane.

Here's a view to the south from the saddle. The downhill part of the loop is going to follow the first ridge before dropping over the other side. At the bottom of the canyon, it'll meet the road (High Drive) that switchbacks down from the second ridge. Cheyenne Mountain is visible behind that, in the distance.

Headed downhill and south, now.

Here's a zoom view looking straight eastward out of Bear Creek Canyon. Beyond the mouth of the canyon, you can see first the Skyway neighborhood, the Bear Creek open space, the ridge where all the car dealers are, I-25 and the US-24 bypass, and the airport and Peterson AFB in the distance.

The trail crosses a small stream (Hunter's Run). Although it drains this whole side canyon, there's not much water here, as it hadn't rained for a couple weeks.

Some blue clematis growing just beyond the stream.

Back into the trees, and continuing downhill on the north-facing side of the ridge pointed out earlier. I found this section of trail was getting somewhat tedious, as there isn't much to see here besides pine trees. The downhill side of the loop is less steep than the uphill side, but quite a bit longer.

The trail has finally gotten out of the trees and crossed over the ridge into the next drainage, offering a good view of Sentinel Rock again. From this point the trail descends more steeply.

One more switchback!

Finally, here's the road, which follows Bear Creek (here off on the right side) downhill. It's about a mile of easy (although somewhat dusty) walking along the road back to the trailhead.

Back to the main photography page.