Saturday, July 22, 2017

Oil Well Flats

Just north of Cañon City lies an expansive, thirteen-mile network of mountain biking and hiking trails known as Oil Well Flats. Visitors will discover a unique area with towering cliffs, rugged canyons and wide-open, rolling plains. The views of Cañon City with the Wet Mountains and the Sangre de Cristos are gorgeous. The area got its name from the oil wells that were dug beginning in the 1860s -- which were the first wells west of the Mississippi. In the 1870s, dinosaur fossils were discovered nearby. Needless to say, the geology of the area is amazing -- and being located in the Climate Capital of Colorado, Oil Well Flats can be experienced year round.

The road leading into Oil Well Flats is passable by low clearance vehicles to the first and second parking areas, but if you want to venture further into the area a high-clearance vehicle is required. Please be respectful of the land and only use the trails in dry conditions to avoid unnecessary erosion and damage to the trails. Also be prepared to encounter horseback riders in the area -- and keep all dogs on leash.

There are four main loops of trails: Fracture/Tectonic Shift, Anticline, Island in the Sky and Fire Canyon/Unconformity. But the trails intersect often and other larger routes and loops could be envisioned. Click here for a detailed map.

There are lots of great resources out there to learn more about this area and the various hiking/biking routes:
Fremont Adventure Recreation (JoinFAR) - check here for current trail conditions
MTB Project - detailed trail info and maps
Canyonland Walkers and Hikers - history, detailed maps

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