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Level: Intermediate
Length: 15 mi (24.1 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +597/579 ft
Total: 111 riders
 

Mountain Biking Oil Well Flats

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#114 of 1,347 mountain bike trails in Colorado
#1,079 in the world

Oil Well Flats is a brand-new singletrack trail system being built around old 4x4 and doubletrack roads. There's currently over 10 miles of brand-new sweet singletrack to ride, with many more miles already under construction and planned for the future.
This trail system is undoubtedly cross-country oriented, but that doesn't mean it's easy. Some of these trails are rather technical, incorporating many natural rocks and features for a very pedally, technical disposition.
That said, all of the singletrack is superbly designed, contouring with the land and passing by some of the most interesting and scenic features.
Thanks to the unique climate surrounding Canon City, this area stays very dry, even during the winter.
Be sure to bring a camera for all of the fantastic views, and a little suspension for the rocks wouldn't hurt, either.

First added by Greg Heil on Dec 3, 2013. Last updated May 10, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: yes
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
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Getting there
Up County Road 9. See Google Maps Directions.
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Oil Well Flats Trail map

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ye11ow (on Sep 15, 2019)
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Trail conditions

Good (on Jun 29, 2019)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Canon City, Colorado

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

Rider questions

Q: Is there any camping near the trails?

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Reviews

  • Gdb49   ✓ supporter
    *****

    This is absolutely an intermediate level trail area, if there are an easy sections they are just long enough to catch your breath or because the trail builders were so brilliant that you don't notice what you're riding. This originally started with the 3 main loops- Tectonic, Unconfomity, and Island in the Sky. There was a fair amount of road riding, but with the addition of a few great miles of singletrack called Anticline this has all but been eliminated. Now TBD has been added and to not give this 5 stars leads me to believe not all the trails have been discovered. They should have named TBD FFF- Fast, Fun, and Flowy. Must have hit 20 jumps and think I missed at least that many. If you ride Island in the Sky "backwards" it's tough and lacks flow. Fractured has also been added to the system and offers a gentler option. Fire canyon is a blast downhill section. As a Colorado Springs resident, this is more than just a bad weather option, it is a "GoTo" spot. What an absolutely brilliantly built area- Thank you to the builders and LAMBA! Start from the lower parking lot, Tectonic, Anticline, down and back on TBD, Anticline, Unconformity, Island in the Sky, down Fire canyon, Tectonic.

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  • mongwolf   ✓ supporter
    ****

    Very good local ride for those living in Canon City, and a great resource for those living in the Front Range region when the snow starts to add up. However, at 6000-6700' in elevation the Flats are about the same elevation as COS. So maybe it is not as big of a difference/improvement as we all hope. The Lake Pueblo trails are the driest trails in the region sitting 1000-1500' below Oil Well Flats. In terms of the riding, starting at the Tectonic Shift THD, it is a very easy 6 mile climb to the top of Island in the Sky, riding CW. There are definitely some fun features along the way. The descent off of Island in the Sky is ROCKY for about a half mile ... Hell on rocks ... actually it wasn't too bad, but definitely keeps throwing rocks at you, and definitely advanced riding. It's pretty cool they put the trail through that area. Overall, the entire system has a nice mix and is a fun, rocky, curvy system. I'll be back.

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  • akrapovic1199
    *****

    Fantastic place to ride when the weather in the springs and/or front range isn't great!

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  • John_dayhoff
    *****

    How I wish this was my back yard. Not an epic ride, but lots of fun. It's a little flat, so constantly working with a little payoff at the end. Lots of rock obstacles to clear and good technical fun. Beautiful setting. Given it's location in a less precipitous region, I could see this being a winter ride haven. At 13 miles of trails and plenty of short segments that all connect, it would be awesome for after work rides. Great place to learn skills, easy enough for family, challenging enough to be fun.

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  • David Monson
    ****

    I rode 2 of these trails, one rated green,but was not an easy trail, and a blue rated that was fairly difficult, these are rocky, technical trails with a few easy spots. Not for the novice rider. It would get easier the more you rode the trail and became familiar with the difficult sections. But great views and a fun ride. Looking forward to more trails built in this area!

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  • Kristyne
    ****

    Quite dusty on this trail and we believe we did it backward because we went up lots and lots of rock garden however our descent was more single track with minimal amounts of rocks and obstacles. I think done in the reverse it would have been amazing. I personally felt like there was no flow to the trail which I didn't care for but island in the sky views were spectacular. We plan to do again in the reverse.

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  • Matt Weaver
    ***

    Before you balk at my rating, I will add two important caveats: I drove here from downtown Denver (so distance is a factor in my rating) and I am a relatively experienced endurance MTB racer (e.g. I ride a ton of trails and rarely less than 30 miles).

    On with the show.

    Oil Well flats is a newer (or newly renamed) collection of trails outside of Cañon City. That much you know. Descriptions and general "social media" buzz make it sound like a collection of trails on par with those at Buffalo Creek, or (even) Fruita. Those folks either have not done significant riding in either of those areas or are liars...

    I drove down on what turned out to be a nice day, and managed to ride all of the trails (save for the "Path of Least Resistance" connector), several of them multiple times. That includes, Fracture (up and down), Tectonic Shift (up and down), Anticline (upish... it is rolling up and down either way), Islands In The Sky (once, the suggested way making the "rock crawling" part the climb and riding the more flow heavy section down), Unconformity (some of it up and all of it down, twice), and Fire Canyon.

    The trails were fun, but they were not at all what I was expecting. They were overly hyped... by a long shot.

    Normally on days when the weather is a bit off in the Golden/Denver area and I'm loathe to do more road training, I drive to Buffalo Creek and do Nice Kitty, Little Scraggy, Shinglemill, Baldy, Charlies, Millers, Sandy, etc. Usually to the tune of 30-40 miles (repeating or doubling back at times), and I can ride all of that terrain, up and down, without putting a foot down. (Blackjack is another story, though I can clean a good bit of it, if I'm feeling sassy) I say this to compare and contrast the two. Coincidentally enough, last week I was in Fruita for a few days at the Bookcliffs (18 road), and had just made a stop at the new(er) Avon trails (Lee's Way Down, etc). I've ridden all over Colorado, all of the big classics, all over the Front Range, from the Cheyenne Canyon (Upper & Lower Jacks, Seven Falls, St Marys, Jones, The Chutes) and Palmer Park ares of Colorado Springs, to all about Rampart Range Road (the reservoir, etc), all over Golden, all over Boulder, Ft Collins, etc. I mention all of this because I am not being mean with my review of OWF.

    The rating system is a bit bizarre. It seemed to indicate the overall "roughness" of a trail versus the actual technical difficulty. For example, Fracture (as a descent) is the closest to a "flowy" trail there. It features high banked turns, lots of built up rock drops as optional lines (I hit all of them, because "duh"), but it is fairly flat. There are no steep grades either up or down and this means lots of pedaling even with minimal braking. This trail is marked as a "green" trail, or beginner. Then you have "Island in the Sky" which has two pieces. The southernmost part (going right where Fire Canyon goes left), starts off gently enough, but soon you are riding over rather rough rock fields that seem to go on for some time. This isn't technical, not in a way I would use the term (e.g. requiring handling skills and courage), but rather sort of unrelenting. It reminds me of climbing Jeep roads. Thump. Thump. Thump. It requires some skill, but is really just rough. The second part, after climbing to the top, is more of a "flowy" descent, but compared to trails that are commonly described that way (say the Kessel Run in Fruita or Sandy Gulch in Buffalo Creek) it is not. It is, however, bereft of the loose boulders and rocks that are strewn about most of the trails at OWF. The descent, is actually less technical than that of Fracture (assuming you ride the northern most leg that way). You could ride it in reverse, but this would be a rough descent. Perhaps most likely enjoyed on full suspension plus sized bike, but even then... That trail is OWF's sole "black" or "advanced" trail.

    I always enjoy long, steep, somewhat technical climbs and fast, flowing, descents. I found neither in the Oil Well Flats.

    All of that said, I feel I should expand on what I liked about it.

    Fracture was fun, probably the best trail here only because it had the most "flow." Anticline, Tectonic Shift, and Unconformity are different. While fun, they are not overly technical, nor are they very steep. The upper part of Unconformity is probably the second most enjoyable trail (subjectively, of course). It did have some rather sharp switch backs I only cleaned once (which require some nose manual pivots, and trials skills I don't always get to employ).

    That said, I do not understand the rating system and I really would not chose this over Buffalo Creek or even a day trying to clean Templeton (in Palmer Park)... which is not really physically demanding in the way a long MTB day normally is.

    If I lived in Cañon City, I would ride here all the time and my ratings would be different, I'm sure. But as it is, I found it to be short, not especially technical, and just not steep enough to be up my alley. If someone has told you it is remotely like Fruita or BC (two of my personal favorite places), they just haven't ever been to either or not ridden the trails most folks speak of when they refer to the two.

    But all said, kudos to the Cañon City Crank Pedalers, the BLM, and LAMBA for building them. They are good trails, but they were not even close to what I expected and I would not recommend driving more than an hour to ride them.

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  • tetontom
    ****

    GREAT riding in a very scenic setting. Coming from Golden/Denver, I'd say it's not a great value, however, unless the Jeffco/Buff Cr. trails are not rideable. Roughly 2 hrs in the car for each hr of trail riding... I think next time I'll bring camping kit and ride a day at Lake Pueblo while I'm there.
    But, I think there are quite a few stretches of wet/snowy conditions that make this a worthy destination for winter and early spring riding.
    Superbly crafted trails; no awkward switchbacks or water-bars.
    No monster climbs (I don't think you're ever really going uphill for more than 10 minutes on any of the trails). I guess the inverse is also true; don't expect any epic descents, either.
    Seems all the trails could be ridden I either direction; I went ccw up Island in the Sky and it was tough, but still very rideable.
    "Pedally" is a good word to describe the bulk of the riding... LOTS of terrain per mile! People calling any of the trails "flowy" are maybe exaggerating a bit.

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  • chefmark
    ****

    NIce trail well worth the drive for front rangers. Rocky front range type of terrain. Some of my favorite style of trail

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  • gregval   ✓ supporter
    ****

    Wife and I rode it, to warm up for an extended trip to Arkansas for mtn biking. As the reviewers state, this stays warmer and drier than many trails in CO.

    Starting from the NW parking lot, we rode CW, climbing up Fracture and Uncomformity, CW around Island in the Sky, than back down Fire Canyon, and then back on Tectonic shift About 11.5 miles.
    The climb up Fracture was gradual and nice. Uncomformity got a bit more gnarly near the top. Easy going up Island in the Sky to the top. As others have said, the ride down the west side of Island in the Sky is VERY rocky, with lots of broken slab rock to deal with. I would not suggest going CCW up this unless you are really into very rough rock work.
    The ride down Fire Canyon is mostly in a gully, and mostly smooth, with just a few little rocky sections to work around/through; very fun. The SW corner is mostly flat, with very flowy stuff on Tectonic Shift. Did not ride Anticline, but it looks the same; fast, flat, flowy.
    Strongly suggest this trail for intermediates.
    Remember, if in doubt about rain/wet conditions, call the BLM at 719-269-8500 to find out if it is open. There is a locked gate that BLM can close the whole area. This, of course, saves trail damage from bikers and equestrians who cannot stay off trails when wet.
    You can find a bit more extensive gpx trail file at mtbproject.com

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  • PHRANQUY
    ****

    Rode this trail on my trip that diverted to Colorado last week and was impressed with the terrain. While I didn't see anything I wouldn't normally be able to ride, the high wind gusts I was dealing with that day had me walking some parts of the Island in the Sky portion of the trail.

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  • mlinde
    ****

    Oil Well Flats is a solid intermediate trail with some technical sections to challenge most riders. Because of the location in central Colorado, it is warmer here than most other rides near the front range, which means it's drier more often and hotter in the summer. A great winter/spring/fall location, the primary loop is about 13-14 miles long, if you ride clockwise the descent from Island in the Sky is much easier than climbing the route going counter-clockwise.

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  • bonkedagain
    ****

    Fun place to ride -- it is so refreshing to see a new trail system built with MTBers in mind. Thanks Kalem!
    I characterize this area as a lot of pounding over rock while weaving thru juniper (cedar?) trees and pinon. Except for a short challenge here and there nothing terribly technical, but you do need to pay attention. Definitely enough riding to keep you entertained for a day.
    The comparisons that people have made to Phils World are interesting to me. I suppose it does have similar rock and trees, but definitely not as fast and there is nothing like Rib Cage in the area.

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  • reneeATX
    *****

    SO worth the drive down from Springs. Well built twisty flowy trails that are more interesting & fun than those in nearby Pueblo.

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  • Vicki Meier
    *****

    Great trail system with lots of variety in a dry climate of southern Colorado. Always new trails popping up. Some flow, tech tech, pure fun ! Can be ridden most of the winter.

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  • sscharin
    *****

    If you like brand new well built trail you might want to find yourself in canon city. Very impressed with the effort @oil well flats. Right up there w/ buff ck, phils world.Nice when high co is cold/wet.

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  • Buster Higgins
    ****

    Rode yesterday, was mostly dry had a couple spots of snow and had to walk. The cows in the area grated the trail up pretty good in spots. First time riding and it was OK ride wise, views were awesome!! Not alot of technical areas, mostly winding singltrack. Island in the sky was pretty gnarly, great for a intermediate rider but I like more rocky downhill faster stuff. Great in the winter for it stays mostly dry. Have fun.

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  • CSgaraglino
    *****

    This is a great ride for when the weather is nasty in Colorado Springs. Be prepared for soft dirt, rocks, climbs fast descents - and especially CACTUS! While this is a relatively new trail system - there are quite a bit of different variations that will make this a fun place for the beginner to the serious MTBer.

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  • Kyle Talbert
    *****

    I read, but didn't pay attention to, the rating that advised this trail was technical. I guess I read 'oil well FLATS' and assumed that it was flat. It's...not.

    We parked at the Northern-most parking area and immediately hopped on Unconformity and rode up to Island In The Sky (a MUST RIDE!). The trail climbed fairly consistently with lots of rocks that kept me grinning with a more technical climb than I am used to. My buddy and I kept turning around and talking about how fun it would be to descend the trail - but our goal was to get to the top and that did not disappoint! The top of Island In The Sky is the cliff face you see in pictures. Slickrock, loose rock, boulders, and the trail runs 5-10 feet from the cliff edge for amazing views. It was difficult, but not impossible - in fact wickedly fun. Expect must-commit lines and to be bumped around a lot. We looped around to descend onto the Fire (something) trail and back to Unconformity. Had a little more flow to the trail, but the ride all-in-all was anything but flowy as all the rocks, rollers, and drops, really kill your (my) ability to open things up too much. But, I've never had so much fun and it was challenging enough to make me really proud of what I accomplished! Take your knee pads and have fun!

    **EDIT - Island in the Sky was what I felt was more technical than flowy, but after watching videos and seeing more trails on the map - I think we simply missed the less technical trails on the West side so don't let my review scare you. Go enjoy this amazing trail system.

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