In recent years, local groups such as Fremont Adventure Recreation and Lower Arkansas Mountain Bike Association among others have worked aggressively to build new trails in the area. Oil Well Flats, just north of Cañon City was the first of these trail systems to get attention. I first rode Oil Well Flats in the fall of 2014 and was impressed. Oil Well Flats has at least 15 miles of singletrack and has become a popular off season destination for mountain bikers. There are a few other small sections of trail being built in the area, but none of them with nearly as much trail as Oil Well Flats. For my blog post about Oil Well Flats from a couple years ago click Oil Well Flats- Fun Desert Singletrack
With the Oil Well Flats trail system well on its way, the various groups began their focus on the next trail system in the Cañon City area. A few miles south of town was a small trail system called Section 13, consisting of 6 miles or so of trails. Last year the trail builders focused on connecting Section 13 with a new trail system accessed right from town in Cañon City. After working hard, last fall most of these trails were built adding another dozen or so miles of singletrack to the 6 miles at Section 13. This new area had its official ribbon cutting a few weeks ago. These are the South Cañon Trails.
With warm weather, I was eager to check out this new trail system. On Tuesday, March 14th, I headed to Cañon City with my bike to ride the area. There are several trailheads, including a couple in town in Cañon City. I arrived at the Eagle Wing trailhead on the edge of Cañon City shortly after 9AM and was the only car there.
Literally just a few seconds after I began pedaling, I noticed my bike computer wasn't registering. After making a few adjustments, it started to register and I was on my way. A couple miles later it stopped working and I made another adjustment to get it working.
My ride began on a trail called Mutton Bustin'. This is an easier singletrack trail that climbs gradually away from town. From the beginning, the terrain is desert-like with plenty of scrubby growth and abundant tree cholla cacti. There are good views of the Wet Mountains from the start.
|View of the Wet Mountains at the start of Mutton Bustin'|
|Slickrock ledge on Hard Time|
|Continuing along Hard Time|
|Nasty section of Hard Time|
|Unforgiving drop along the narrow trail|
|More tech ahead|
After a mile or so on Hard Time, the trail mellows. For the most part, the remainder of Hard Time features a fun cross country trail that rolls and twists through junipers with views nice views of the surrounding terrain. The nice trail continued about 2.5 miles until I left Hard Time for Redemption.
|Hard Time mellows after the rough section|
|Nice new trail|
|The Wet Mountain views are nearly constant|
|Near my turn off point|
|Slickrock decent on Redemption- it's much steeper than it looks|
|Continuing down Redemption|
|A steep gulch along Redemption|
|Near the low point of Redemption- notice nearly every photo has cholla.|
This isn't intentional, it's just that prominent.
|The start of Section 13|
|Lamba Chops is open much of the time|
|Climbing Lamba Chops|
|Making my way up Hot Shots|
|Near the Hot Shots and ride high point|
|Cañon City below in the distance|
|Distant Pikes Peak|
|Wet Mountain views and trailside cholla were nearly continuous|
|Looking back toward the terrain earlier in my ride|
|Looking toward Cañon City and Pikes Peak|
|Hot Shots had denser vegetation than most of the ride|
|Riding along a rock feature near the end of Section 13|
|Back on Redemption|
|Climbing a rocky stretch of Redemption|
|Steep gulch along Redemption|
|Making my way up Redemption|
At the top of Redemption I rejoined Hard Times. Rather than retracing my previous route on Hard Times, I rode the last mile of new trail. This section featured a mile of climbing until I finally reached a higher up section of Temple Canyon Road. A half mile or so climb on Temple Canyon Road brought me to my section of singletrack, The Great Escape.
|The southern end of Hard Time|
|The Great Escape view|
|View from The Great Escape, on the full size image (Click on pic) you|
can see the trail below at the dark brown line in the center of the pic
|Looking down on the trail and ledges just ahead|
|Back into the rough section of Hard Time|
|Nasty trail with little room for error|
|A tough short climb|
|Descending from Hard Time|
|Near the end of Hard Time|
|Another look at the trails ahead|
|A closeup of a trailside cholla with interesting rock in the background|
|Another look at the Wet Mountains|
With Oil Well Flats and now the South Cañon Trails, the Cañon City region is becoming a desirable destination for mountain bikers, particularly when the high country trails are out of season. The local groups are continuing to build the trail infrastructure in the region. Through the summer, the groups are focusing on building trails near Royal Gorge Park. By next winter the Royal Gorge Park area is anticipating about 20 miles of total singletrack built. Lower Arkansas Mountain Bike Association, Fremont Adventure Recreation, and other groups are serious about making Cañon City a mountain bike destination.
Click on the links below for more information.
South Cañon Map
Section 13 Map
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