This system of 20+ miles of trails sits in the "banana belt" of Colorado's south-central mountains and stays dry nearly all year long. Avoid the big-city crowds and brush up on your rock hopping abilities in this technical and expansive trail network.

The Basics: Picture this: Winter on Colorado's Front Range. It snowed yesterday. You're stir crazy because today it's 60 degrees and sunny outside, but the trails are a muddy mess! Cue Oil Well Flats. Located just an hour outside of Colorado Springs, this trail network rarely sees precipitation, making it the perfect destination throughout Fall, Winter, and Spring. NOTE: If this area is muddy, do not ride here. Check trail conditions here before you ride. In Summer, it can get very hot here, and the trails are fully exposed to sun except for the occasional shade of a piñon pine. In general, the trails here are fairly technical with a rocky section every 15-20 feet. To ride the full loop, expect a full-body workout of lifting up, pushing down, hucking, and hiking your bike. 

The Ride: This trail system is best ridden three different ways.

Loop 1: Advanced - Ride nearly every trail at Oil Well Flats for a 13 mile loop. From the main bottom parking lot, follow this trail progression: Tectonic Shift, Unconformity, Island in the Sky, Fire Canyon, Anticline, Tectonic Shift.

Loop 2: Intermediate - For an easier ride, access behind the upper bluffs by riding up Fire Canyon. Go left to descend via Unconformity, or go right to do the Island in the Sky loop. Then, finish by going back to the main parking area on Anticline + Tectonic Shift, or Fracture.

Loop 3: Easier Intermediate - Just the lower trails - Park at the upper trailhead (pictured) if you have a moderate clearance vehicle like a Subaru. Start by going up Unconformity, then turn right onto Anticline. Turn right at the Tectonic Shift intersection (pictured) back up to the upper parking lot. Then, do a second little loop. Unconformity > Fracture > Tectonic Shift back to the upper lot. ~8 miles total.

The Area: While Cañon City is mostly know for its maximum security prisons and The Royal Gorge Bridge, this area has a lot more on offer for cyclists. Just off the Hwy 50 through town, the historic downtown main street has a variety of shops and eateries. The bike-themed Bean Pedaler coffee shop has great espresso drinks, and The Cup and Cone is a perfect stop for a post-ride ice cream. And strangely, Momo Sushi Bar has some of the best sushi in Colorado. There are other recreation opportunities nearby, such as climbing at Shelf Road and hiking or biking the Royal Gorge trails. Another great off-season mountain bike riding area that is nearby is Lake Pueblo State Park

Pack List

  • Capable mountain bikes (leave the Wal-Mart bike at home for this one)
  • Helmets
  • Sunscreen
  • Hydration
  • Phone (for pictures, and to follow the trails using the MTBProject app)
  • Medium-high clearance 2WD vehicle if you want to access the upper trailhead
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RT Distance 13 Miles
Elevation Gain 1200 Feet
Activities Cycling, Camping, Mountain Biking, Running, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Groups
Scenic

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