The Royal Gorge region is paradise for the outdoorsy types.
You can run, hike, bike, ATV and 4-wheel year-round in our mild climate, and with our mix of terrain and vantage points, you can spend days having fun without seeing the same vista twice.
The Royal Gorge region has some of the best trails in Colorado for ATV and 4-wheel fun at Texas Creek Recreation area, which is accessed by driving 26.5 miles west of Cañon City on U.S. 50. The rec area itself lies north of the highway, and it is a high-use system of trails that are detailed on maps available at Cañon City information centers, the Chamber Building and the Visitors Center Cabin. The Chamber Building is on the northeast corner of U.S. 50 and 4th Street, and the seasonal Visitors Center Cabin is located in Veterans Park.
Be advised clearance varies on these routes, and the network links some ATV sections with 4-wheel drive. There are miles and miles of trails and tracks, and among the most popular 4-wheel drive routes are Bull Gulch (606), Fremont County Road 27 (27), Fernleaf Gulch Connector (6020) and Reese Gulch Bypass (6024) Popular with ATVers are East Arkansas River Overlook (6025), Cut Off (6036) and Tucker Trail (6035). Again, clearance varies.
Always consult maps; always check weather forecast in advance; and be aware of regulations that BLM has in place.
In addition to the go-it-on-your-own ATV trails, the Royal Gorge region has several guide services – a great idea for novice riders or folks unfamiliar with Rocky Mountain terrain. You can obtain the BLM regulations at the agency’s office located at 3028 E. Main Street.
Hiking and Biking
This is where the rubber meets the road in the form of a fat tire, a hiking boot or a running shoe. Cañon City and surrounding area is a haven for runners/hikers and mountain bikers, and the possibilities are both numerous and varied in exertion factor.
- Recommended hiking trails in the Royal Gorge region.
- Recommendaed biking trails in the Royal Gorge region.
Arkansas Riverwalk – Easy
You can access the Arkansas Riverwalk 7+-miles of trail at three trailheads. First is Sell Avenue: Go south on 9th Avenue from U.S. 50. Cross the river and turn east on Sell. Second is on Raynolds/Ash just south of U.S. 50 just as you cross the river. Parking on both sides of the street, with the concrete trail taking you under the bridge. Third trailhead is on MacKenzie Avenue. Turn south off U.S. 50 at The Home Depot heading east out of Cañon City. Continue south until you cross both the railroad tracks and the river. The trailhead is on the west side of MacKenzie. West on the Arkansas Riverwalk is the Tunnel Drive extension, also considered easy but with a bit of a climb involved early on.
Garden Park Fossil Area Interpretative Trail – Easy
Drive six miles north of Cañon City on Field Avenue, accessed by turning north off U.S. 50 onto Raynolds Avenue and turning north again onto Field Avenue. Field eventually becomes Red Canyon Road and then Shelf Road, gateway to all kinds of fun. Parking for the self-guided tour of the Fossil Area is located on the both sides of the road.
Section 13 Trails – Moderate
Head south from U.S. 50 at 1st Street at the west end of Cañon City. Travel one mile south until you come to Temple Canyon Road (CR 3), and turn west or right. Continue for 1.9 miles. Pay close attention to your odometer; if you start a downhill stretch on Temple Canyon Road, you’ve gone too far. Park on the north side of the road, and access the section 13 trails through the fence opening on the south side. The trails are a total of six miles round-trip, and riding/hiking is best during the spring and fall. Lots of juniper and piñons at the base of the Wet Mountains; the Hotshots portions are slightly more technical/advanced/steeper. Trails are doable in the winter if dry. Again, summer is hot and dry – be prepared with lots of water.
Oil Well Flats – Moderate
Accessed just north of the Fossil Area on Red Canyon Road. You’ll turn east on the dirt road just after you cross Four Mile Creek, which is marked, and travel .2 miles to the parking lot. Oil Wells Flats dishes out fifteen miles of single track biking and/or hiking await, taking you through junipers, piñons and open areas that remain after a fire in 1988. This area is best during spring and fall, although it is ridable when dry in the winter. Summer is hot and dry, and if you depart on a ride or hike, be sure you have plenty of water.
Tanner Trail – Difficult
From US Hwy 50 in Cañon City, travel south on 9th Street 1.2 miles to Elm Street; right on Elm Street .2 miles to Oak Creek Grade Road; left on Oak Creek Grade Road 4 miles to Tanner Trailhead. Parking is clearly marked, and there is a sign explaining good hiking routes, camping and regs. The trail, like most in the region, is usable nearly all year, but it does hit an elevation of 9,340 feet. While the trail is long and technical, the views are nothing short of spectacular. You can see the Wet Mountains to the south, the Sangre de Cristos to the west, South Park hill and Pikes Peak to the north. Take plenty of water and of course a camera.
Texas Creek Trail – Difficult
Drive to Westcliffe, CO, by heading west on U.S. 50 26.5 miles to Texas Creek Trail. Turn south on Colo. 69 and drive another 24 miles. Pass through the town of Westcliffe, staying on Colo. 69, and travel a short distance to Hermit Road. Turn right and travel west another six miles until you come to a T intersection. Turn left and go .2 miles to Gibson trailhead. NOT for the inexperienced rider/hiker. Lengthy travel time involved. Leave your travel plans with someone at home. Have fun and take your camera and plenty of water.