Location: 13201 Volmer Road (.6 miles north of the intersection of Volmer and Shoup)
Park Hours: April – October: 5 :00 AM to 9:00 PM, November – March: 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Amenities: This 1,070-acre Open Space straddles the Palmer Divide in the Black Forest and is characterized by gentle rolling terrain, covered by ponderosa pine forests, grassland meadows, wetlands, dotted with small ponds with abundant wildlife, including elk, white tail deer, raptors, and turkeys. It has a large trailhead, restroom and approximately 8.5 miles of single-track trail. Bikers, equestrians and runners are common users. E-bikes are not allowed. Dogs are welcome on leash.
The Palmer Land Trust holds a conservation easement on the site which ensures scenic, wildlife, aesthetic, recreational, and ecological conservation values will be preserved and maintained in perpetuity.
History: The Pineries Ranch was acquired by the Farrar family in 1958. At that time the ranch consisted of approximately 12,000 acres. During his lifetime, Mr. Farrar added parcels to the ranch, so that it eventually totaled approximately 16,000 acres. General boundaries of the ranch excluding numerous outparcels, were Shoup Road on the south, Black Forest Road on the west, Hodgen Road on the north and Meridian Road on the east. The land was originally used for the raising of cattle. Additional agricultural uses were added over time, including the treatment of wood with preservatives and the sale of posts and pole fencing along with the sale of miscellaneous supplies and fire wood to neighboring rural residential users. Changes to government regulations affected land use. An interesting negotiation with Public Service Company occurred in the 1960’s. Rather than have the electric utility condemn and purchase an electric easement for overhead transmission lines through the ranch, the Farrar’s agreed to grant the easement without charge if it could be moved to jog along the southern and eastern boundaries of the ranch. The easement was clear cut by Public Service, and was then used for the sale of transplant trees that eventually grew within the easement. The Farrar family members and son-in-law moved toward forestry rather than ranching. The cattle operation stopped in the mid to late 1970’s, replaced by forest management and the sale of forest products. Sale of transplant trees generated cash used to control mistletoe and pine bark beetles and enhance the forest. After the death of Mr. Farrar in 1985, the ranch was divided into four parcels. The southern half of the ranch was jointly held by two sisters and managed by one sister and her husband. They established the first conservation easement on their property in 1985, in part to prevent Swan Road from bisecting the ranch. A second conservation easement was created in 1995. Both easements, totaling 1040 acres, are held by the Palmer Land Trust.
In 2010, The Pineries Open Space Master Plan was created. The site was extremely damaged by the 2013 Black Forest Fire and significantly delayed the opening of the site for public use. It wasn’t until June 2020 that the Pineries opened for public recreation.
The Pineries Open Space is managed by El Paso County Parks (719) 520-7529.