The history of the Black Forest area is closely paralleled by that of a larger area traditionally known as the "Pineries". The area originally extended from Divide, Colorado (now known as the town of Monument, Colorado), through the present planning area and east along the Platte-Arkansas Divide to a point where the Ponderosa Pines thinned out. Altogether the Pineries encompassed a 1,000 square mile area. Although the origin of the name is not clear, that portion of the Pineries north of Colorado Springs became known as the "Black Forest" by around the turn of the century.
Arrowheads and charcoal pits provide evidence that the planning area was occupied by Native Americans at least 800 years ago. The first known inhabitants were the Ute and Comanche Indians. The dense Ponderosa Pines provided them with protection, fuel, and timber for lodgepoles. These tribes were displaced by the Kiowas around 1800. Almost 40 years later, the Arapahoe and Cheyenne tribes joined forces to drive out the Kiowas and become the last Native Americans to inhabit the area.
When white people began to settle the region in the late 1850s the Black Forest became an important center of activity, primarily as a source of scarce timber. The first of what would be several dozen sawmills was constructed in 1860. General Palmer was the first major landowner of Black Forest when he established the Colorado Pinery Trust in 1870; he purchased 43,000 acres. Lumber and mine props were supplied to build Colorado Springs and Denver. An 1880 article from the Colorado Springs Gazette stated that for years nearly every foot of timber used in Denver was hauled from the Pineries. Logging in the Pineries reached its height in the summer of 1870 when over 700 teamsters and 1,000 lumberjacks and tie hacks were employed, mostly for railway work. More than one billion board feet of lumber were removed to provide ties for the Kansas Pacific, Denver and Rio Grande and New Orleans Railroads.