Perched high in the Rocky Mountains just outside of Woodland Park, 1,320 acre Catamount Ranch Open Space and Resource Protection Area is truly a gem worth exploring. Catamount has a long and intriguing history. The area was first homesteaded in the 1890s and provided lumber to the Cripple Creek mines. Subsequently, it fell into the hands of an advocate for public lands who sold the land to the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region. In 1997, the YMCA transferred the property to Teller County at which time Palmer Land Trust (PLT) obtained a conservation easement on the property.
Catamount Ranch possesses amazing ecological and wildlife values in addition to its astounding views of Pikes Peak and the Crags. Moreover, it rests adjacent to Pike National Forest, the City of Colorado Springs North Slope Watershed, the Catamount Institute, and a number of private ranch properties on which Palmer holds conservation easements.
As a key parcel in the Pikes Peak view corridor, Teller County and Palmer Land Trust recognized the significance of preventing development on Catamount Ranch. Development of this property would have significantly degraded the natural integrity of the area in addition to tarnishing the Pikes Peak viewshed as seen from US Highway 24 and Colorado Highway 67.
There are currently two great hiking options at Catamount: the Elder-Fehn and Vayhinger trails. These trails begin at the same trailhead with an elevation of 9,600 feet. The Elder-Fehn Trail is a five-mile loop that, much like a rollercoaster ride, continuously dips and rises, reaching a maximum elevation of nearly 10,000 feet. The Vayhinger Trail, approximately four to five miles, drops down to North Catamount Creek (elevation 9,400 feet) and links to the Ring the Peak Trail. Needless to say, both trails are wonderful hiking opportunities. Be sure to take time to visit the Catamount Ranch – there's no better way to enjoy some of the benefits of Palmer Land Trust’s work!
Take U.S. Highway 24 west through Woodland Park. After passing through town, take a left (south) on Edlowe Road. Continue down Edlowe Road to its end; park in the gravel parking lot on the left.