Oil Well Flats Trail System

Consensus:    (details)
  4.3 from 30 votes
blue  Intermediate from 19 votes
Rank: #1 in the Oil Well Flats Trail System area
#18 in CO, #78 Overall
Views: 18,043. Last 30 days: 392
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Featured Ride in the area near Cañon City,
“A new trail system north of Canon City that offers year round riding and great trails.”
Kalem Lenard on Oct 3, 2013
Getting There     GPX File     Print
13.221.3 milesKilometers 1,226’374 m Ascent 6,699’2,042 m High 4% Avg Grade (2°)
90% Singletrack -1,226’-374 m Descent 5,940’1,810 m Low 15% Max Grade (8°)
Restrictions
This area is closed to motorized vehicles when it is wet and muddy. Although the trails are still open to hikers and mountain bikes under these conditions it's a good idea to stay off. The clay in the soils can turn nasty pretty quick. Check with the BLM Royal Gorge Field Office, 719-269-8500 for the current status. They also have it on their recreation page but it currently isn't available due to the shutdown.
Overview
2:14 average time for 12.0 miles. Details

Located in the climate capitol of Colorado, this new trail system is rideable year round. This trail system is comprised of fun singletrack trails with a variety of difficulty and terrain making it a great off-season destination when the rest of the front range is covered in snow and you want a little variety from Pueblo Reservoir.

Be sure to check out Island in Sky where you find yourself on the edge of a 200' rim looking out over Canon City and the Sangre De Christo Mountains. Anticline is chocked full of fun alternate lines that are sure to bring a smile to your face.

These trails are shared with horses, hikers, and cows so please be respectful of other users.
Need To Know
The trail network is new and is constantly being modified and updated so signing and mapping is still a bit confusing. Be sure to check with Red Canyon Cycles redcanyoncycles.com/ or the BLM Royal Gorge Field Office for latest trail beta.

There are a lot of sharp pokey things out here so it's a really good idea to run some type of tire sealant while riding in the area.

Lastly, this area would not be a good place to ride for someone with PTSD. This sounds like a joke, but the gunfire from across the valley is non-stop on the weekends.
Description
Start at the lower trailhead and jump immediately into Tectonic Shift which offers fun flowy cross-country type singletrack with some small rock challenges to keep you on your toes. Take a right following the signs for Tectonic Shift and keep the fun going until you pop out onto a dirt road intersection. Across the road you'll see Tectonic Shift continue. Follow this to the informal Fire Canyon Trailhead.

At the trailhead follow the signs for Unconformity/Fire Canyon and start to climb up some more great singletrack that is a little tougher with more obstacles than the lower trails. Keep left on Unconformity, passing the sign for Fire Canyon and Anticline. You'll eventually come into the burn area where the trail meanders through some amazing rock outcrops with some tough switchbacks.

Soon enough you'll hit another dirt road. Take a right on this road and follow it right through the next "Y". Soon you'll see a trail taking off on your left which is the beginning of Island in the Sky. Keep left at the next intersection (right is the top of Fire Canyon). Enjoy another mile of great singletrack that begins to wind through Ponderosa trees and oak where it will eventually dump you out onto another intersection with a dirt road.

Keep going straight and follow the singletrack on your left where it eventually crests out onto a ridge with some amazing views of Canon City. Keep following the trail where you'll find yourself on the rim of a 200' cliff offering one of the most amazing views in the Canon City area.

Enjoy the view for a bit, take a breather, and then keep heading north on the rocky somewhat technical rim trail. Soon you'll see an obvious trail coming in on your left that dives steeply downhill. If you want another great view/overlook head straight to the end of the trail and take in another amazing vista with drop offs on three sides and some interesting geologic features. Some swear you can see bigfoot's toe in the ancient rock formation.

Back track to the steep downhill trail and enjoy the cruising fun downhill. At the bottom of the canyon you'll hit Fire Canyon Trail. If you want a longer ride and more fun downhill, turn right and climb up Fire Canyon back to Island in the Sky and then turn left, back tracking your way down Unconformity. If you've had enough climbing, turn left and head down Fire Canyon. The re-routes of this trail have turned it into a super fun descent and also a great climb if you want a direct line to Island in the Sky.

You'll hit the intersection with Anticline. Take a right to get back to Unconformity and the Fire Canyon Trailhead or turn left on Anticline to experience a fun flowing trail with some great alternate lines which are described here. Taking the left you'll quickly hit another dirt road. Turn left and follow the road until you see Anticline pick back up on your right. Rip down this latest addition to the trail network, take a quick left on the two track road and you'll quickly see the trail pick back up on your right. You'll eventually tie back in with Tectonic Shift where you'll take a left heading back to the trailhead where you started. Drop the tailgate and enjoy a beverage before packing up. Head back into town and get some grub at one of the local eating establishments and let them know you are enjoying the great trails the area is developing.
History & Background
This area is known for dinosaur bones including Ms. Spike, a stegasourus fossil discovered in this area in the early 90's. Be sure to check out the interpretive sites along the way to learn more about the interesting history and geology of this area.

Make sure to bring the climbing and kayaking gear as well. International recognized Shelf Road rock climbing area is just up the road and the infamous Royal Gorge stretch of the Arkansas River is back in Canon City making this a great destination for multi-sport weekends.
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COMMENTS
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PHOTOS of Oil Well Flats Trail System
  4.8 from 6 votes
Crazy rock formations seem to pop up out of nowhere on the Tectonic Shif... (Cañon City, CO)
  4.8 from 5 votes
Canon City is the ideal spring and fall destination for all the Colorado... (Cañon City, CO)
  4.4 from 5 votes
Island in the Sky overlook headed towards Fire Canyon (Cañon City, CO)
  4.3 from 7 votes
Unconformity stoned switchback inside line (Cañon City, CO)
  4.3 from 6 votes
Perfect day for a ride on the Island in the Sky Trail. (Cañon City, CO)
  4.3 from 6 votes
An example of the fun optional lines available in the Oil Well Flats sys... (Cañon City, CO)
  4.3 from 3 votes
Golden hour on Island in the Sky Trail. Oil Well Flats delivering the mi... (Cañon City, CO)
  4.3 from 4 votes
Unconformity under the blue sky at Oil Well Flats (Cañon City, CO)
  4.3 from 4 votes
Anticline under a crescent moon below Island in the Sky (Cañon City, CO)
  3.8 from 5 votes
Island in the Sky drop to the machine cut exit to Fire Canyon (Cañon City, CO)
  3.8 from 4 votes
Cranking up Tectonic Shift with the sun pushing down. Great weather for ... (Cañon City, CO)
  3.8 from 4 votes
the Unconformity race to the trailhead before the sun sets (Cañon City, CO)
  3.7 from 3 votes
Gettin' some on the short rock face on Unconformity. (Cañon City, CO)
  3.7 from 3 votes
Fun with rocks. (Cañon City, CO)
  3.7 from 3 votes
Great view from Island in the Sky. (Cañon City, CO)
  3.7 from 3 votes
Looking down over Canon City from the high point. (Cañon City, CO)
  3.5 from 2 votes
Some of the interesting rock formations along trail. (Cañon City, CO)
  3.5 from 2 votes
Just one of the amazing views along the trail. (Cañon City, CO)
  3.3 from 3 votes
A short slick rock to navigate and more Unconformity to descend. This wa... (Cañon City, CO)
  3.3 from 3 votes
Island in the Sky through the charcoal trees (Cañon City, CO)
  3.3 from 3 votes
Cranking up a technical switch back. (Cañon City, CO)
  3.3 from 4 votes
Island in the Sky. This is my most anticipated view when climbing Island... (Cañon City, CO)
  3.0 from 4 votes
Some great Sangre de Cristo views on Fracture. (Cañon City, CO)
  3.0 from 3 votes
Highest point of Island in the Sky- Oil Well Flats on an awesome Nov 22. (Cañon City, CO)
  3.0 from 3 votes
Beautiful views from the top. (Cañon City, CO)
  3.0 from 3 votes
Lots of cool rocks in this area, on Ms. Spike Trail (Cañon City, CO)
  3.0 from 3 votes
A fun day trying out most of the trails at Oil Well Flats (Cañon City, CO)
  2.8 from 4 votes
High overlook (Cañon City, CO)
  2.7 from 3 votes
Photo taken looking west. (Cañon City, CO)
  2.3 from 3 votes
Facing south on the Ms. Spike Trail (Cañon City, CO)
  1.5 from 4 votes
Trailhead (Cañon City, CO)