The Royal Gorge Region is a large, outdoor paradise with dozens of trails in all directions to suite any need. Whether you enjoy four-wheeling, biking, horseback riding, or hiking, the Royal Gorge Region has you covered.
While flying along a trail on an OHV or mountain bike is tons of fun, hiking is Colorado’s most popular outdoor activity. Why? It is accessible to nearly everyone, doesn’t require any special gear, and forces you to slow down and appreciate Colorado’s incredible scenery.
The Royal Gorge Region has no shortage of epic hikes for all abilities and desires. From mellow, easy trails to steep, difficult ascents, this outdoor mecca has it all. The following are just a few of the hikes available in the Royal Gorge Region:
Royal Gorge Rim Trail at Royal Gorge Park
If you’re looking for a hike that will offer some of the most awe-inspiring views in Colorado, this is it. Outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and abilities will find that the Royal Gorge Park trails offer stunning views and plentiful options.
The Royal Gorge Rim Trail is the ideal place to start your Royal Gorge Park adventure. It’s an easy 3.17-mile loop trail with only 115 feet in elevation gain. From the trailhead, the trail immediately splits. Take the trail on the left, which goes east along the rim to the gorge, gradually increasing in elevation as it meanders through open spaces and groves of scrub oak and piñon pine. At about 1.9 miles, a spur follows the Royal Gorge Rim to an overlook that provides excellent views of the canyon and river below.
For those with a limited amount of time, pick the trail up at the picnic area and enjoy panoramic views of the gorge and mountain ranges beyond. Please note that many points along this area have severe-exposure and drop-offs. Hike with caution!
Red Canyon Park
Ten miles north of Cañon City is Red Canyon Park, a 600-acre wonderland. It has several easy trails as well as some slightly more difficult trails that take you through amazing red rock formations and vertical spires.
Just six miles north of Cañon City is Garden Park, a famous geological area. Here, an easy trail winds through an excavation site, where many different species of dinosaurs have been found.
Cottonwood Creek Trail
This is an 8-mile long trail located at the Alvarado Campground. It’s a local favorite and leads to a gorgeous, grassy basin.
Fire Canyon Trail to Island in the Sky in Oil Well Flats
Oil Well Flats is one of the most extensive trail systems in the Royal Gorge Region, and while its dirt roads and singletrack have been touted as a mountain biker’s paradise, its trails are also idea for hiking. Within this system, hiking Fire Canyon Trail to Island in the Sky is a great way to get a sense of what Oil Well Flats is all about.
From Fire Canyon Trail, you’ll reach Island in the Sky, where you’ll be treated to some welcomed shade with tall pine trees. The trail soon leads to an open meadow where you’ll begin your ascent to the top of a ridge. Rocky with a few surprises across the top of the ridge, you’ll be rewarded with views of nearby cliffs, Cañon City, and beyond to the snow-capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo range.
Sand Hill, Schepp Ridge, and Redemptions Trails in the South Cañon Trails
The South Cañon Trail System offers 10 miles of trails that connect the Arkansas Rivewalk, Temple Canyon Park, the Section 13 trail system, Grape Creek, and thousands of acres of BLM-managed public land.
Sand Hill and Schepp Ridge are intermediate hiking trails that can be accessed via the Eagle Wing Trailhead located on the corner of New York Avenue and Colburn Lane.
Redemption is also an intermediate trail, but one which offers a special surprise. Just off this trail is a mini slot canyon, where you can spot dinosaur footprints toward the top. To access the Redemption Trail, park at the Temple Canyon Road Trailhead and head north on the trail.
Dakota Trail in Hogbacks Open Space
The Hogbacks is Cañon City’s in-town geologic wonder! Your experience here will treat you to the beautiful Dakota Ridge Hogback Formation. Within all the layers of the Dakota Hogback formation lie significant fossil resources, including a record of Colorado’s past as an inland sea!
Though the Dakota Trail is for the more advanced hiker, it is worth the trip. Hike through junipers and piñons atop the crest of the Dakota Ridge formation. On the north end, prepare yourself for a descent down steep bedrock.
Temple Canyon Trail in Temple Canyon Park
This moderate to difficult trail is located 10 miles south of Cañon City off Temple Canyon Road. It follows Grape Creek, which flows through the bottom of Temple Canyon to the “Temple,” a natural rock formation that is said to be haunted. Please note that this trail involves crossing a creek that has no bridge, which means it would be dangerous to do during mid to high water levels (typically late May through mid-July).
Stout Creek Trail
Get your blood pumping on this steep trek that takes you to Stout Creek Falls, often considered one of Colorado’s most stunning waterfalls.
For detailed information on these trails and many others, check out our trail map.