Level: Intermediate
Length: 15 mi (24.1 km)
Surface: Other
Configuration: Loop
Elevation: +839/808 ft
Total: 8 riders
 

Mountain Biking Lion Canyon Loop

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#915 of 1,344 mountain bike trails in Colorado
#9792 in the world

My favorite ride near Canon City. I prefer this loop in the counter-clockwise direction (which makes for less technical climbing), the ride down the Lion Canyon singletrack is narrow, steep, and fast. The climbing is on roads/doubletrack and you end by descending the 2.5 mile Lion Canyon singletrack back to the campground and your car. However, on this route finding the upper Lion Canyon TH to get down off the mountain can be tricky. Some eliminate this confusion by riding the loop clockwise - climbing the singletrack and taking dirt roads down off the mountain and back to the car. Either way, this is a great 2-3 hr ride (~15 mi) close to town.

If you don't want to deal with finding the upper Lion Canyon TH, ride the following loop in the clockwise direction, starting with a climb up the Lion Canyon singletrack and going right on Highline Trail Rd to the NF Rd 304 jeep road descent to CR 143.

For the counter-clockwise version, ride out of the campground to CR 143 and turn left. Follow this road, staying left through a Y in the road and the following intersection. After a couple miles of uphill, you come to a fast downhill section and NF Rd 304 on the left. Turn onto this jeep road and climb for around 3 miles to the top of ridge, where you will encounter the Highline Trail double track. Turn left and follow Highline past multiple, signed spur roads that end in the letters A-H. The upper Lion Canyon TH is at the end of the spur road ending in H, which breaks off to the left. I believe this is the last spur road before the Highline Trail road dead ends, so you'll know if you've gone too far. If you can't find the upper TH you can always back track the way you came, enjoying a fast downhill on the jeep road that you climbed to reach the Highline Trail. Following the directions above, however, it shouldn't be hard to find the upper TH on the counter-clockwise loop. From the top of Lion Canyon trail bomb down 2.5 miles of technical and fast singletrack to the campground and your car.

First added by gatzke on Apr 28, 2020. Last updated Apr 28, 2020. → add an update
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Getting there
From Hwy 50 in Canon City, head south on Hwy 115 (9th St) for a little more than a mile. Turn right onto Elm St., left shortly thereafter onto Oak Creek Grade Rd (CR 143), and head south out of town for a little over 12 miles to the Oak Creek NF campground. Park at the Lion Canyon trailhead at the rear of the campground.
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Open (on Aug 31, 2008)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Canon City, Colorado

***
Beginner | 0 mi
*
Easiest | 14 mi
***
Advanced | 5 mi
****
Intermediate | 7 mi

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Reviews

  • EdQuesada2003
    ****

    Yes, this is great ride with awesome views of the Sangre's. Follow the trail instructions and you'll be fine. The trails have been marked since 2008

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  • jkovaly
    **

    I believe the Lion Canyon singletrack section (2.5mi) has become more eroded since some of the reviews were written, very loose rocks and deep ruts make it essentially un-rideable in the uphill (clockwise) direction, I strongly advise riding counter clockwise with the first 12.5mi along dirt/jeep roads. I followed the directions to ride it counter-clockwise and would like to add this clarification; "...after turning left onto FR304, climb just over 3 miles to the top where FR304 ends into FR274. Turn left and follow FR274 a few miles past multiple, signed spur roads (FR274A-H) while enjoying the awesome views! Take a left at FR274H and in less than a mile you will see the Lions Canyon TH on the right. Have fun blasting down that trail for the 2.5mi back to the campground. Notes: the last mile up FR304 is VERY steep, I had to walk up two sections. The 2.5mi Lion Canyon downhill is completely rideable technical singletrack but has several sections that are very steep with loose rocks and deep ruts, including a few hidden drops - be careful.

    * Review edited 9/6/2010

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  • FinishSTRONG7
    ****

    I also think it makes more sense to ride it counter-clockwise. Too many loose rocks combined with the grade make climbing the singletrack way too arduous. You definitely still get a good workout with some challenging climbs toward the end of FR 304 Then you end the ride with the sweet singletrack descent! Just wanted to add, to access the upper Lion Canyon TH from FR 274, look for trail '330' off 274 on your left. (If you reach another destroyed gate on FR 274, you went too far.) Climb the short hill and you'll see the sign 'Trail 329 Lion Canyon' bearing right.* Review edited 5/3/2009

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  • vbeckman74
    ****

    The Falcon guide calls this Oak Creek Loop. It is an excellent ride. I went clockwise, but in retrospect, counter-clockwise would have been better. That way you can blaze up the road and bomb the singletrack.

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  • John Fisch
    ***

    The singltrack portion of this ride is great. It makes for a challenging climb-steep, consistent grade with little opportunity to catch your breath and a few technical obsticles thrown in for good measure. But 10 miles of dirt road for less than three miles of singletrack is not the right proportion for me--although short, I prefer to do this as a singletrack out-and-back. The singletrack descent is a super reward for the pain of the climb.

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  • gatzke
    ****

    Referred to as "Oak Creek Loop" in the Falcon Colo Springs trail guide.* Review edited 9/2/2008

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