The centerpiece of Palmer Lake, of course, is the body of water that is as central to the town’s story as the bordering train tracks.

Gen. William Jackson Palmer founded the Denver-Rio Grande Railroad and the city of Colorado Springs to the south. Here, by 1872, his trains from Denver would stop and passengers would get off for a refreshing break. One of these passengers was Dr. William Findlay Thompson, a dentist who saw the potential for a resort community. He went about expanding the town into what it is.

The lake that inspired him continues to be enjoyed.

Residents and visitors share space along the shores, fishing and paddling out on stand-up boards and kayaks. The 36-acre Palmer Lake Recreation Area also includes a playground and nine-hole frisbee golf course.

A flat, dirt path encircles the lake for about a mile, incorporating a stretch of the New Sante Fe Regional Trail, traveled by long-distance cyclists, runners and equestrians. The tour of the lake is one of the regional trail’s most scenic parts.

We parked by the tracks along Colorado 105 that runs by the town’s restaurants, gift shops, galleries and other charming establishments. We walked east, crossing the pedestrian bridge over the tracks and dropping to the trail.

The trail skirts willows and trees that clear for views of the town’s most recognizable promontories, including Ben Lomand, Chautauqua and Sundance mountains. Monument’s Mount Herman can be seen rolling south. The views are such that you might take another loop to properly take it in.

Trip log: 1.1 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: Park located at 199 County Line Road. From Interstate 25, take exit 161 and continue northwest on Colorado 105 for about 5 miles to town.

FYI: Walking and biking. Dogs on leash. Park open from dawn to dusk.

SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE

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