Located on the northeast corner of Milam and Shoup, this 385-acre park has not just trails, but a playground, tennis courts/basketball court, horseshoe pits, and picnic pavilions. There’s also a large playfield that’s sometimes used for youth sports events but more often than not is open to everyone.
Much of this park was burned in the Black Forest fire, but the areas around the parking lots on the south end were mostly unscathed so there are still lots of towering Ponderosa Pines. The trails in the burned area of this park have recently been rebuilt, at least in part.
While hiking or biking through a burned area may not sound exciting to some, I actually like it as over time, you can see how the landscape recovers. Obviously the pine trees will take awhile to grow back, but the aspens and scrub oak are shooting up and I really think it’s a beautiful process to watch over time.
If you take the trails to the north end of the park, you’ll meet up with the Pikes Peak Loop, a 4.5-mile loop that circles the perimeter of the Cathedral Pines neighborhood. Ridden counter-clockwise, it’s a fun bike ride, particularly a fast downhill stretch on the north side that’s known as “Roller Coaster in the Pines”. You’ll want to watch out for the barbed wire fence all along the outside, though. (One of these days I’d like to know why barbed wire was necessary!)
You can also park at the parking lot at Milam and Vessey to access Pikes Peak Loop if you don’t want to ride up through Black Forest Regional Park. I believe there’s also an access point at the end of Piedra Vista St.
Back to the park’s trails: if you would like a short hike in the trees, there are trails that connect the south entrance with the north entrance.
This park has two entrances with three parking areas – one right at the corner of Milam and Shoup and one just a little way north on Milam, so if you’re meeting up with someone, be sure to clarify which part of the park you’re meeting at. The second parking lot – the one north of the first entrance at Milam and Shoup – is the one with the amenities such as the playground, pavilions, tennis courts, etc.
I hope you’re able to get out and experience this gem in Black Forest! For official information on Black Forest Regional Park, visit its page on the El Paso County Parks website