The Santa Fe Trail in Colorado Springs is an almost 17 mile trail that runs from Palmer Lake, just north of Monument, in the TriLakes neighborhood, down through the Northgate neighborhood, down to the Woodmen exit on the I-25 in the Northwest, where it becomes the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail. Santa Fe Trail is a flat gravel walkway, suitable for bicycles, dogs, horses, walking, and running.
For the most part, you'll see cyclists and runners on this trail, and the occasional dog walker. Families and dogs are welcome on this trail!
Sometimes misspelled Sante Fe Trail, but Google will correct you and find it! It's also called the New Santa Fe Trail, after the remodeling was done. It's part of the much larger American Discovery Trail that spans across the entire county!
We took a stroller on this walk, and while doable, there is some vibration from the gravel underneath. I don't think I would recommend wheelchairs, as the material of the ground and the dips and hills in the path would not likely be sustainable. The walkway is for the most part flat, but there are some hilly mounds to be aware of.
This trail is very popular with cyclists, so follow the rules of the road, and stay on the right side, especially if you are walking your dog, keep them on a tight lease so they don't get in the way.
There is also a port-a-potty at the trail head, but no other bathroom facilities.
We started at the Woodmen exit entry point, called the Edmondson Trail Head. There is not a lot of parking, but I don't usually see a lot of traffic at this head. There is also commercial parking across the street.
We hiked from this point all the way up to the USAFA (United States Air Force Academy), where you can continue through, but be aware that you will be on a military base at this point and that you can be searched at any time, so no funny business.
We will be back to this trail and eventually walk the whole length of it, so much description and pictures to come!
Santa Fe Bike Trail From EDmondson to USAFA South Entrance
Right as you descend onto the trail, you have some natural washout on the path, so navigating that with a stroller is tougher, but once you're past that starting section, it's a simple path. Parks and Rec also fills in the washouts occasionally with new gravel.
You follow the Santa Fe Railroad along your route, and we got to see a train along the way! The sound of the train is soothing and nostalgic.
I also took a short video of the passing train:
On this section of the trail, you will pass both grassy knolls and wooded areas. Not only do you follow the railroad on one side, but the other side also follows Monument Creek:
Other things to note on this park of Santa Fe Trail are the bits and pieces of old railcars that are now being used to prevent erosion on the trail:
The drainage hallways underneath the train tracks:
And the ranchers that live just off the trail. You can see horses and cows on your walk here, and they're pretty close!
The scenery as you can see is great. It's a wonderful trail to take a visitor to the city on, where they can see the variety of nature that Colorado Springs has to offer.
You will also occasionally see jets flying overhead because of the proximity to the USAFA, so that's why you'll see jets in formation. Look out for the Thunderbirds!
I have also see glider planes overhead, which are noiseless, and those are fun to watch.
Park hours are dawn to dusk, like most parks here.
USAFA Trail Entrance and Ice Lake
This section of the trail used to be closed off, as there were some security concerns with just anyone walking on base without being checked, but that has since been resolved.
Dogs are still welcome here. After you pass the gate that separates the USAFA trail from the rest of the trail, you will cross under a metal bridge (pictured above).
As you continue north through the USAFA section, you will pass Ice Lake, which is a small man-made lake. There is a picnic table and a port-a-potty. We saw some teenager/20 somethings setting up a picnic here on our way back.
There is a dirt road off the S Gate Blvd road that you can drive down to get to Ice Lake so that you don't have to hike to get there. Take S Gate west to Pine Dr, then a left (South) on Pine, and another left onto the dirt road.
As you continue north, you will reach the bridge of S Gate Blvd, where you can continue all the way up to Palmer Lake!
Northgate Trail head
There is no bathroom at this trail head. There used to be, but not anymore.
Baptist Road Trail Head
There are no facilities or bathrooms at this trailhead.
Monument Trail head
Monument has a restroom, but it's closed November 1st through March 31st. Look out for Elephant Rock, which is between the Monument and Palmer Lake trail heads.
South of Woodmen on the Santa Fe Trail
Just as you are headed south underneath the Woodmen Bridge, off down toward the creek you'll see a tree swing. Looks like there has been more than one party here!
You'll pass under two bridges, while crossing a trail bridge that lets you pass over the creek.
Don't forget to admire the natural beauty of our city!
When is the Santa Fe Trail open?
It is open from dawn to dusk, like most parks in the city.
The Edmondson Trail Head of the Santa Fe Trail is located at 250 E Woodmen Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80919.
I'm Kevin James Bond, native to Colorado and author of this site, which exists to educate anyone who wants to hear a local's thoughts and experiences with Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas. I am also a Colorado Springs RE/MAX REALTOR®. You may learn more about my real estate services at Kevin James Bond, The Sufak Team, RE/MAX Real Estate Group.