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Will Canon City be the Next Fruita?

Feb 22, 2016
by stevemokan  
Canon City, Colorado is a blip on most folks' radar, as the town isn't known for much of anything other than having the Royal Gorge bridge and train (and white water rafting, FWIW) just to the west of town. However, the town is trying to change that perception by building some amazing mountain bike trails in an attempt to lure riders from nearby Front Range cities of Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Denver, and even Boulder. After riding their most recent creation- the Oil Well Flats trail system- it's safe to say the drive from anywhere on the Front Range is worth it.

Will Canon City be the Next Fruita

Canon City has climate and topography going for it... the riding in this area is virtually year round due to low snowfall and tons of sun, and the town sits in a large "valley" between the Sangre de Cristos and the Pikes Peak mastiff. When the trails are covered in snow and the weather is cool all along the Front Range, it's likely sunny and warm in Canon City. That was the case last week when we put in 20+ miles on the Oil Well Flats trails.

Will Canon City be the Next Fruita

The trails are eerily similar to a combination of the Loma/Kokopelli loops and the 18 Road trails in Fruita... and of course, that's a good thing.

Will Canon City be the Next Fruita

The climbs here are generally pretty mild, but they do include a handful of fun, technical and punchy sections that will keep you on your toes. The terrain varies greatly with large meadows, rolling hills, interesting rock features, and technical rock sections.

Will Canon City be the Next Fruita

Will Canon City be the Next Fruita

A recommended route is to climb Fracture right out of the parking lot to the "upper level" of trails around Fire Canyon and Unconformity, then make your way over to Island in the Sky and enjoy the long descent from there. The terrain, trails, and views will not disappoint.

Will Canon City be the Next Fruita

Will Canon City be the Next Fruita

All of the trails are worth riding at least once, and you can easily put in 18-20 miles in a few hours.

Will Canon City be the Next Fruita

Will Canon City be the Next Fruita

So the question is, will Canon City succeed at becoming the next Colorado mountain bike destination town? I honestly have no idea... but if the Oil Well Flats trail system is any indication, they're certainly headed in the right direction. With a handful more trails in that area combined with a few more options, I can easily see it becoming a must-ride area for anyone within a half-day drive. I personally can't wait to get back down there in the spring when everything is green and lush. Until then, keep up the good work Canon City!

Will Canon City be the Next Fruita



95 Comments

  • + 66
 As a Coloradan, we do not need anymore people coming to our state. Please refrain from giving out local trails. Haha
  • + 1
 Yeah it gets crowded here especially during spring break... but I kinda like the company.
  • + 12
 There is NO substitution for Fruita!!!!!! Everyone go there! There's nothing else fun in Colorado. This article is bullshit, because 18 Rd is the best biking ever.
  • + 0
 I'm not sure that's fair... I don't think this article is arguing that it will completely replace (Fruita trails won't get worse due to Canon City riding expanding) or that it currently beats Fruita. It seemed to me like they were writing about the potential and current expansion of the area. Also, for me the drive to Oil Well Flatts is about a third of the drive I'd have to make to go to Fruita. Not exactly appropriate for a day trip. And I'm not sure if you've ridden OWF, but the trails there are by no means bad (I really enjoyed them), especially in the middle of winter and pertaining to their proximity. Just my two cents, I don't have experience riding everything in Fruita.
  • + 3
 Sorry @mitch7yeti.... I was only kidding. @Scoutty was also kidding. I'm super pumped on riding OWF. I think people should absolutely ride there, along with anywhere in Colorado they can. It's a great state filled with tons of great riding. I'm sure there's a ton of folks who love riding 40-60 miles a day of non-tech trails, so Fruita is perfect for them. OWF looks awesome! I'll be there in a few days.
  • + 10
 Seriously, the population increase is getting out of hand. I know and admit that me and anyone else who's moved here in recent years IS the problem. On the front range trails, you can barely pick up speed anywhere without stopping/slowing for many other uphill riders. Access to the mountains in particular is getting out of hand. If you want to ski on a weekend day, you've got to be on the I70 by 6:00am and often earlier, the freeway turns into a parking lot and you can't get to the mountains. Colorado is both awesome but also starting to feel like it's over.
  • + 3
 I 100% agree... the population increase over the last 3-4 years here has been crazy. If you're lucky enough to ride during the week or at off-hours, then there's not a problem. But if you're stuck riding after work and on the weekends, it can be frustrating. That said there are still some quiet, hidden gems where you can go to escape the crowds during peak times... I just won't tell you where those are. Wink
  • + 10
 Even Hitler is b**ching about I-70 traffic. Ha!!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=35sfp9k5avI
  • + 2
 Haha that's the best thing I've seen today. Utah skiing is rad. Uncle lives in Park City so I go out there to bike and ski all the time.
  • + 1
 @Scoutty I live on the front range (Denver) side of the Rockies. Love this city, but the growth, although great for the economy and state, makes I-70 a nightmare on weekends in both the summer and winter. Everyone wants to go play understandably. However, I-70 is the only corridor to get up into the hills unless you go way out of your way north/south. The Hitler video hits on all of our complaints. Love it!!
  • + 9
 Not living on the front range helps with traffic.
  • + 1
 ^^ This
  • + 1
 Not realistic @JamesPBlaw & @SalsaVerde for me at this point. That is definitely a big 'one day' scenario. However, I travel (fly) for work very often and must be near DIA. The mountain airports (Eagel/Vail, Steamboat, Junction, etc.) are way too expensive for my clients. Until then, Denver it is.
  • + 6
 Yep, the "escape velocity" of big metro areas like Denver (also think Calgary, Seattle, etc, etc) is outta control. Hate to say, and not saying to be a hater, but since 64 was passed in the state and legalized RecWeed, even more are coming. The strong start-up business climate, progressive stances on advanced energy, and etc, mean the crowds will keep coming. Matter fact, the I-25 corridor from Denver to FoCo is predicted to be one of the fastest-growing places in the country for the foreseeable future.
  • + 3
 Since time = money, @bman33, flying out of Grand Junction is cheap. I stroll through security 10 minutes before departure and hop on my flight. Which is nice because that means I can spend more time riding the Lunch Loops. #westslopebestslope
  • + 0
 I am TSA precheck and breeze thru security. Almost all of my flights are $300-$500 higher if flying from Junction. Trust me, I have looked into it to the nth degree the last 5 years. I have several friends out there, love the lunch loops. And unless going West, most of them connect in Denver anyway.
  • + 2
 @saltheguinea Yeah Prop 64 was definitely the turning point for the front range. I grew up and still live on the front range but I am definitely looking elsewhere in Colorado. you can't even ride after work anymore because the trails are so crowed. It's just a game of red light green light on any trail from 3:30-7 in the summer.
  • + 11
 There arn't any trails down there... It snows all year... You probably shouldnt go.
  • + 7
 If any one dressed in an orange jump suit attempts to stop you on the trail to ask for directions...pedal harder. Ha. Maybe COMBA could arrange some work release to provide trail labor. "Working on the single track chain gang..."
  • + 5
 These trails are literally 45minutes from my house and they are nice. Nothing extreme but super fun since it's a network of trails and you can easily control how much you want to ride. Been going here for a few years and every year they are building more and more trails. Can city needs to step up its local bike shop game considering that these trails are by far the nicest for the area. Only gripe I have is the number of rattle snakes you'll run into once it warms up. Almost hit one and 30 minutes later had one striking at me, total buzz kill for the day. Trails rock and they are fun to ride, hope they keep building more and make them more challenging.
  • + 5
 They'll need a lot more trails to be anywhere near Fruita. I give Oil Well Flats is ok. I just rode Section 13. If it was longer I would definitely like it better than Oil Well. Canyon City would need a couple more systems (preferably in the trees) to be worth going down to more often. It has potential. Pueblo is still king for winter riding. It's the first to dry out and doesn't seem to get a lot of snow.

Canyon City would be king though if they built some pure downhill trails with road shuttle access to the top.

They only problem is - the summer weather. It's hot, hot, hot. I will never go to Pueblo in the summer, to many other great trails to ride.
  • + 8
 Idaho springs has no trails he meant Colorado springs
  • + 3
 I see what you did there Smile
  • + 1
 Worst kept "secret" on the planet.
  • + 8
 I'm just glad it draws front rangers away from salida haha
  • + 1
 sucks for us though
  • + 3
 I've never understood why people like Fruita so much. Lunch Loops is GJ is where it's at anyway. FWIW, I live in Eagle, and the trails are coming a long. Solid cross country and a few more technical trails like Worlds Greatest and Red Neck Ridge can be had. Also, pretty sweet BMX track if that's your thing. It's a lot of climbing, but the trails aren't crowded and all the locals are pretty sweet. Also, Bonfire Brewing and Pickup's Pizza....
  • + 2
 Eagle is sick. Are the traila dry?
  • + 2
 Shhhhhhhhh!!!!! Quite now. I just moved to Eagle from Golden. @teethandnails And to answer your question, not yet, still have snow on north facing slopes.
  • + 1
 I agree ^. Eagle's Pool and Ice rink trail is insane. We rode Eagle then driving back east, stumbled upon Lee's DH trail in Avon area. One of the best days of riding last year. Here's Pool and Ice rink just to get a feeler. www.pinkbike.com/video/411390
  • + 1
 Yeah, Lee's is probably one of the best trails I've ever ridden.
  • + 3
 Rode OWF Saturday! It is our home court. We have great restaurants after biking... Breakfast at Good Thyme... Momo's, DiRitos, Mugs, Pizza Madness and Royal Gorge Brewery... Canon Inn has oysters on the half shell and fresh seafood daily! Red Canyon on the way to OWF is one of the best road bike rides in Colorado...
  • + 3
 Hell yeah! Oil well flats and Pueblo res are my go to places to train during the summer on the front range! Awesome seeing the places that I frequent on the front page of pink bike. Hopefully this will encourage the guys down there to continue building more trails!
  • + 3
 Lake Pueblo trails are my home trails. So awesome seeing cañon city up there!
  • + 3
 I rode there this past weekend. Way more interesting and scenic than Lake Pueblo, but it's still pretty flat, without much grade. The Anticline trail had a lot of really sharp blind corners for a 2 way trail, made me nervous. I think they're still building trail, there's definitely a lot of potential given the terrain, and I think I saw a "TBD: Double Black" trail on the map at the trailhead.
  • + 2
 Dudes. If you want another suggestion in the area, Lake Pueblo State Park. Most people already call it the Fruita of the front range. though we lack proper downhill trails, we make up for it with miles of high desert singletrack where snow is even more scarce than Cañon City, loads of technical climbs/descents, more shale rock than you can shake a stick at, and the most liquor stores per square mile in all of 'Merica.
  • + 1
 Pueblo State Park is amazing for what it is. It has short (5-10 minute descent time) canyons to ride that are packed with features. There are drops, ladder bridges, and hucks EVERYwhere. I think there is something like 10-12 canyons in all. There are also miles of single track, but this best for a shorter travel bike. Its normally dry before anything else on the FR.
  • + 4
 I think you mean 1:30 of descent time, it's like 150ft of vert.
  • + 1
 Yeah! And the best part is that it only gets packed around this time of year when everything else is snowed in. Any other time, you basically have the trails to yourself. Because honestly, I think they're may be a total of 20 people in the town that ride out there, myself being one of them. Though I would like more of a community, the solitude is excellent. And about the dry part, can confirm. Everything is pretty much bone dry already with the exception of a few spots and the creek bed.
  • + 1
 There are some longer and some shorter. But decidedly longer than a minute and. Half and 150ft vert.
  • + 2
 Yeah looks like fun. Not sure I'd compare them to Kokopelli trails, which are (mostly) dry and ridable now!!
But okay. Now Front rangers don't have to cross the Divide to ride in Fruita! Hope they develop the area more.
  • + 2
 Canon City is dry and rideable now too.... I took these pictures last Friday. Smile

I'd compare the Oil Well Flats trails to Troy Built and part of Steve's Loop, but definitely not Mary's, Mack Ridge, Moore Fun, or Horsethief.
  • + 1
 Cool man! Looks great, cool boulders, worthy of a road trip.
And it does look drier than here.
Of course it is raining and snowing again right now, but it was really good. Wink
  • + 2
 OWF is a great day ride that has plenty of trail features to keep the rider of any skill level amused, great riding when the rest of the front range is under the cover of snow. However, a single two-hour trail system will not in itself create an MTB destination on the level of Fruita, Moab, Etc I hope that the good folks down in Canon have the budget and will power to keep digging because if they do every trailhead will be full. A blessing and a curse.
  • + 1
 Oil Well Flats is fun for a winter riding spot, being about 45 minutes away and often dry when Colorado Springs is snowy or muddy, but I sure wouldn't call it a destination. Hopefully that changes, there's a lot of cool looking terrain down there.
  • + 4
 No way, they got it all wrong. There are no good trails in CO. Wyoming is where its at. Go there.
  • + 4
 By "next fruita" You mean crowded and covered in braking bumps? hehehehehehehhehe
  • + 1
 When you're done on riding, check out Dakota Hot Springs (AKA The Well) a hidden gem of a hot springs near the intersection of Hwy 50 and Hwy 115, just 7 miles east of Canon City. Look for it just west of 115 on the south side of 50. Nothing fancy, kind of bohemian, its bathing suits optional everyday except Tuesday. BYOC (bring your own cans - beer, whatever) but they have a strict no marijuana policy. No glass. No creeps. Great place to soak it off after a day on the trails.
  • + 2
 Hi! Great pics! I've yet to visit, but it seems to be all the rage on the 303 FB page. Is there anywhere to eat after a ride? Healthier food options are a plus!
  • + 0
 303 Trail Monitor? You mean the FB page where you get banned for farting in the wrong direction? That page is a joke.
  • + 3
 Rode there this past weekend, it's legit. From what I hear more trail is coming....
  • - 3
 Are they dry and ready to ride??? Junction/Loma/Fruita are still sloppy....

If so, even more weight given to this article! Brrrap!
  • + 0
 Lots of new competition for that title, and I'm not sure who I'll pick this year. Salida, Eagle, Avon, Palisade, Idaho Springs, and now Can City??? It'll come down to camping, Quality/Quantity of trails, Vibe, and publicity. I do FULLY think the title is up for grabs. Current Fruita has the camping, quantity, and publicity. Otherwise, Fruita sucks, has sucked, and seems to not even care that they suck. The vibe is a feeling they're untouchable, and we'll come just because we don't have a choice. If I couldn't plan a trip that'd also hit Junction and Loma, I'd never ride Fruita.
  • + 1
 What trail(s) do you like in Idaho Springs? I'd agree that Fruita leaves a little to be desired but I'd also argue it's improved in the last 5 years. Besides some awesome trails, Fruita is advantageous because the trails are drier for a longer period of the year. The "Ribbon" trail at Lunch Loops has made my top 5 all-time list.
  • + 1
 I'm curious you mentioned Idaho Springs also. Thats not an area I think of when I think of mountain biking? What trails are in the area?
  • - 3
 @ryan83, all DH stuff, but I like to ride laps on my enduro bike. Mostly because it's a great workout, and it's a challenging DH. That said, I usually go there early because it's the first thing dry that's not Fruita. If they had camping and a XC/uphill trail I think a lot more people would ride there. I hear it's ready to ride NOW! I'm just speaking about who's ready to tackle Fruita for the early-riding destination. I too like the Ribbon; however, it's not part of Fruita. That's my point. Without Junction and Loma, Fruita would die. Try the Ribbon on a dirt jumper. It's like a huge skate park.
@Rockymtnx, see above. If you want early DH, and dry dirt, Idaho is the first thing out there. It could easily be the new Fruita if they had a little up hill XC action. Fruita is the first XC to dry out in CO. That's their best selling point.
  • + 16
 Shhhhh there is nothing in Idaho Springs
  • + 9
 ay please keep idaho springs on the DL...
  • - 9
flag mtbikemccoy (Feb 22, 2016 at 20:33) (Below Threshold)
 Big secret... you can see it from I-70. It's a dirt road up to an old rutted-out DH track that dumps you back onto the road. You guys must be Mojo Wheels guys who have some kinda hidden stuff out there. oooOOOooh... whatever. Your secrets are safe with me.

Anyway, who cares about Idaho Springs? We're talking about how Fruita needs a swift kick in the balls, and there's several other early season spots to go ride.
  • + 2
 Dang, what about Fruita sucks? Seems like they're always trying to build new trails and get new trails approved. You got 18 Rd. for the fast flowy, Loma has killer views and great variety, from flowy to techy (and most folks consider koko/loma to be part of the Fruita trail network, heck it's a lot closer to downtown Fruita than 18 Road) If you want more marathon XC and epic views, there's Rabbit Valley,with the Western Rim Trail, and 15 minutes from Fruita you've got the super tech playground of lunch loops. I'm just wondering what area you think they're slacking in? Have you tried the new Sarlacc trail at Fruita? It's pretty good. There's supposed to be some new trails getting approved for Koko too. The whole town seems totally stoked on mountain biking, you go into Hot Tomato and it's mountain biking everywhere, you even see them out on the trail. 18 Rd by itself might get old, but it's not by itself, you do have Koko and LL within 20 minutes, plus, this summer there will be lift-served downhill biking at Powderhorn on their new high speed quad.
  • - 1
 Okay... I'll revise all my previous comments. Fruita alone sucks; however, Palisade, Junction, Fruita, Loma, and Rabbit Valley together are worthy of a destination. To me, Fruita is 18rd. I lived in Junction for a few years. If you're coming to Western CO to ride, stay in Junction. Ride Palisade, L-Loops, and Loma.
  • + 5
 Just stop talking
  • - 2
 Sorry for offering input... You guys head on out to the desert and soak in those windy lumps. I'm just trying to steer bikers to better trails.
  • + 1
 Srsly shut your face about the Idaho Springs already... It's all private property, you shouldn't be there unless invited by the owners anyways. And yes, Fruita blows nuts
  • + 2
 I always find it funny how everyone talks about the fruita side of the valley. I mean 18 road is fun, but Lunch Loops and the Ribbon are where its at.
  • + 4
 Instead of yammering about which spot is better, I just ride it all. You should try it.
  • + 3
 You kids are funny pretending that spot is a secret. That spot wasn't a secret 10 years ago, and it isn't now. If it's a secret, stop posting vids and then trying to be all supreme when someone asks when it's at, with your "it's a secret" line. You CO one uppers are ridiculous.
  • + 2
 It wasn't a secret 20 years ago either. Wink
  • + 3
 I remember 10 yrs ago when someone asked the same question about Vernal being the next Fruita. Still nope.
  • + 3
 Is there a Hot Tomato in Canon City? Didn't think so.
  • + 2
 Good to see great articles about Front Range riding. Oil Well flats is only a few hours from me.
  • + 1
 I like oil well flats but it's pretty insulting to fruita to compare the two. It's nothing close to the caliber of fruita
  • + 4
 I wouldn't say so.... Maybe compared to Grand J. Id ride oil well over 18 road any day of the week.
  • + 2
 18 road is fun, but in my opinion are our most uninspiring trails. Fortunately we have Lunch loops, Kokopelli trails and rabbit valley just as close. I agree Grand Valley is a strange place in some ways and the bike shops have a bad tourist vibe. The town of fruita is weird. Better to stay in Junction. Takes a bit to get to know the area but theres some great stuff here. Of course right now its snowing and raining! fml.
  • + 1
 Yea I would agree with you I guess I kinda consider grand junction and fruita the same riding area seeing as I'm from Colorado Springs by the time I get out there it all seems close enough to be considered one area
  • + 2
 that tall grass looks like rattle snake city
  • + 2
 I hope so!
  • + 1
 I just yell Strava Strava Strava!!!!!
  • + 1
 Yes, it could be compared to a "bum" version of Fruita/Loma.
  • + 2
 Fruita is a "poor mans Moab" Oil Wells flats is a "poor mans Fruita".
  • + 0
 Moab Smokes Fruita
  • + 3
 But who's really kidding who? It's still riding, and it's awesome
  • + 5
 Thats why its a "POOR mans Moab" @bman33
The fact is that the best thing about Fruita is that its only 90 minutes from moab.
Thats why I live here.
And when I say Fruita I really mean all the Grand Valley Trails, Loma, Mack, Fruita, Grand Junction and Palisade.
Just takes too long.
There is also an epic 33 mile singletrack, 6000 foot drop in elevation, downhill trail planned from Grand Mesa to Palisade.
The Palisade Plunge!
That sounds fun huh?
  • + 2
 Maybe on a dirt bike but for mountain bikes I'd much rather stay in grand junction and fruita
  • - 1
 @stevedekker, now I see why you're so insulted... As a former Junction resident, Fruita = 18rd, only. To us, "Fruita" is not a blanket statement for all of the Grand Valley.
  • + 1
 If you want to die of heat stroke in the desert...
  • + 1
 Anyone know about ridgway and the rat?
  • - 2
 YaaaWWWWnnn

Can we keep talking about buff high desert trails that you guys ride on 6-inch travel bikes? Is skidding still cool in 2016?
  • - 1
 Are there any dirt jumps down there, and if not are they looking into it?
  • - 1
 @nuttypoolog i love you
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