• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    2 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    377 Feet

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Groups
Scenic

This short, family friendly trail provides stunning views of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and only take about 45 minutes to hike.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of Colorado's four national parks. Though not as well known as Rocky Mountain or Mesa Verde, Black Canyon has no lack of views, hiking opportunities, and other must-experience natural features.

The Canyon's expanse is far too large to explore in a day, but the Oak Flat loop offers hikers the chance to see some of the most panoramic overlooks of the canyon and the Gunnison River, still tediously carving the narrow, granite and gneiss walls below.

Start your hike at the South Rim visitor center, located about 30 minutes outside the nearest town of Montrose. The trail starts off heading west and descends steadily for about a mile. The well defined trail is easy to follow and easy to hike on, making this a perfect hike for families with young children.

The canyon is visible throughout almost the entire hike, but each overlook is slightly different which keeps the hike interesting and undoubtedly breathtaking. Trees line the side of the trail making it cool and shady, a definite plus in the summer months.

After descending for approximately a mile, the trail follows several switchbacks and a steady incline for about another mile. This is by no means a difficult ascent and may hardly make you short of breath. The trail eventually winds back to the visitor's center after 2 miles and 377' of elevation gain.

The hike could be completed in as little as twenty minutes, but most hikers and photographers prefer to take their time and take in all the incredible scenery present in the area. Because this hike is so short, it allows sufficient time in the rest of the day to check out other overlooks, and hikes, and complete the Rim drive of the park.

Whether you're a Black Canyon aficionado or a first time visitor, the Oak Flat loop is bound to impress you, and encourage you to find other places to explore in Colorado's always amazing Black Canyon of the Gunnison. 

Pack List

  • Hiking shoes
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Trekking poles (optional)
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Reviews

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For being located at the visitor's center, this hike was virtually empty (we passed only three other groups the entire time). The views are incredible and it's super fast and easy. Definitely worth your time if you're going to be there!

8 months ago
8 months ago

Katie Lyons Explorer

Trail running, skiing, and photography enthusiast from Gunnison, CO.

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