When we lived “in town”, there wasn’t much I enjoyed more than going to one of the beautiful parks or open spaces in Black Forest. Somehow the forest always makes me feel a bit like I’m on vacation in the mountains, and even though we live in the forest now, it still has a relaxing effect on me.
One great place to go in Black Forest is Section 16, a 640-acre open space that has a four-mile trail. With little elevation change, it’s definitely a trail, not a hike, but it’s a fun place to walk and ride bikes, and it’s very popular for equestrians as well. (No motorized vehicles are allowed.)
We bike at Section 16 a lot, and for biking, I recommend that you head get on the trail heading east from the parking lot (counter clock-wise) for two reasons: one, you get the bulk of the climbing (and the sand) out of the way within the first mile or so and the rest of it is a fun, flowy ride. Two, most of the foot and pedestrian traffic goes the opposite direction (heading west from the parking lot, or clockwise), and it’s much easier to pass people going the opposite direction than it is to have to go around them from behind.
The first mile or so of the trail heading west out of the parking lot was rebuilt in 2017, so if you are biking with little kids and don’t anticipate making it around the full four-mile loop, I recommend going west as the trail going that direction is much easier for little kids to bike on since it’s not sandy.
This area was burned in the Black Forest fire, and I think it’s fascinating to see how burned trees come back to life after a forest fire. There is a lot of mitigation going on in this area, too, so it’s a good opportunity to see what can be done to slow down the spread of a fire. (They are working on clearing low-lying branches that enable a fire to climb up to the treetops right now, so it is interesting to see the parts of the forest that they’ve mitigated versus what hasn’t.)
There are no picnic tables along the trail, so if you want to pack a picnic lunch, be sure to bring along a blanket, too. There are a few benches on the west side of the trail that borders Herring Rd.
Along the east edge of Section 16 is District 20’s School in the Woods. If you go to Section 16 on a Monday morning, you can make a stop at the Pikes Peak Library District Bookmobile, which parks at School in the Woods on Mondays from 9:30-11:15 AM (and is at the corner of Black Forest and Shoup for the afternoon).
To access Black Forest Section 16, park at the parking lot on the north side of Burgess between Herring and Vollmer. There is plenty of parking, and there is a pit toilet at the trailhead.
If you’re in need of delicious food and drink while you’re in Black Forest, our favorite little cafe and coffee shop (and it’s seriously good both food and coffee!) is just a few minutes away from Black Forest Section 16!