Stevie Ray is exploring his domain in our former home near the Eagle Wing in Canon, Colorado.
There are many pleasant hikes around Cañon City Colorado, some of which are suitable for dogs. Many passengers pass right through this area while on their way to the high side, and this is a mistake. Some may stop at the Royal Gorge, see America’s tallest suspension bridge, or ride the insanely high zipper, or perhaps the less scary tram that spans the gorge. Most travelers unfortunately miss some of the best hiking and biking trails in Colorado, as well as some very enjoyable dog-friendly hikes around Cañon City.
Cañon City gets a bad rap
Unfortunately, one of the reasons some people continue to pass by this part of the Arkansas Headwaters recreation area is the perception of Canon City as simply a “prison city.” Although there are several prisons in Fremont County – the largest is the federal “Supermax” – residents of these facilities will not bother you while enjoying some of the amazing hiking trails in the area.
We once lived next door to Cañon City for several years, and thanks to the city council, which changed its name in 1975, I was forced to find out where the “„ “key on my keyboard was. We really enjoyed our time there, in tourism and camping in this area, and we would like to share with our readers some information about hiking suitable for dogs in Cañon City.
What makes this area of Colorado so unique
The area where the city of Canyon is located simply ends up where the rolling plains of North America crash against the Rocky Mountains to form a very unique ecosystem. In fact, we’ve seen hail, snow, thunder and lightning, and there’s also 90 degrees of sunny weather, all on the same day here.
The unique geology of this area is not found anywhere else in North America. Within an area of less than ten square miles, you can find dinosaur trails and ancient curly beach sand – from millions of years ago – right next to layers of coal and fossils, which are also located next to layers of igneous and volcanic rocks.
Beautiful red rock formations similar to those you would see in Sedona can be found just north of the city in Red Canyon Park, which is just a short drive from the city via Red Canyon Road.
Below is a photo of the entrance to Red Canyon Park, taken on a winter’s day when we went to snow there. There is a nice hike back and forth, which follows a small river through the small canyon, where there are several centuries-old juniper trees.
Entrance to Red Canyon Park, northeast of Cañon City, Colorado
Due to the mild climate, you will find a different mix of wildlife here than anywhere else in Colorado. Don’t be surprised if you accidentally see a traveler on a walk, along with a white-tailed deer and mule, or the occasional black bear or a casket of blue quails.
It’s like taking the climate and topography of Texas, Arizona, Colorado and Kansas and crushing them against each other in a space of a few square miles.
Ancient juniper tree in Red Canyon Park, Canon, Colorado
Hiking suitable for dogs near the town of Canyon
The Eagle’s Wing, just west of Canon
Zoe found this in the Eco Park, refused to give up!
1. The eco park and the eagle’s wing
A nice, dog-friendly hike in the town of Canyon is in the Eco Park, located just outside the city. (Take South 1st Street to CR-3 next to the parking lot on the right). From the parking lot you can take several dog-friendly trails, which range from easy to moderate. One of our favorites is the one that leads back to the city above the top of the geological formation of the Eagle Wing, which can be seen in the photo above.
(Our old home can be seen on a hill, north of the top of the ridge.) There are fossils on the edge, as well as very interesting geology, if you think so. Many universities bring their geology students here every year to study this unique environment.
Watch out for cactus and snakes
As you walk along the paths of the Eco Park, watch both cacti and snakes. Rattlesnakes are rare, but they do exist here. Keep your dog tied up and avoid dropping them off the trail, as there are several types of cacti here.
2. Tunnel path
Another nice hike you can take your dog on is the Tunnel Drive. Travel west on US-50 and turn left right past Tunnel Drive along the old territorial prison. This unique trail follows the Arkansas River and overlooks the mouth of the Royal Gorge. This very dog-friendly trail passes through several tunnels that were carved through the mountain by prisoners years ago.
Walk through the tunnels on the Tunnel Drive Trail, Cañon City, Colorado
3. Hogbacks Open Space
The Hogbacks open space is probably one of the easiest and easiest for dogs hiking trail systems in Cañon City. This nice trail is located in the western part of the city and follows the same mobile ridge line where Skyline Drive is located.
Don’t miss Skyline Drive! If you’re ready for this, it’s a torturous but extremely scenic drive that’s not for the faint of heart.
Here the trails are well maintained and are much less rocky than other hikes we mentioned. To reach Hogbacks Open Space, follow North 5th Street to the northeast, then turn left onto Skyline Drive and you will see the trail and parking lot located just before the hill.
4. Temple Canyon Park
A little more adventurous, off the beaten path, is to visit the “temple” at Temple Canyon Park, which can be found a few miles up the CR-3 from the Eco Park. Just continue southeast and look for the sign. It’s 0.6 miles out, a 1.2-mile hike that descends to Grape Creek, followed by a path up to a unique rock niche called the Temple.
The last part of the hike to the temple itself is moderately difficult and should only be done with a very fit dog that is used to climbing obstacles. You may need to push even the most agile dogs here and there over some high rock ledges to climb up to the temple. For a much more experienced hike, consider the Hogbacks Ecopark, the open space, and the miles of hiking trails that follow the city’s Arkansas River.
We were very lucky to visit Temple Canyon Park one day and enjoy the sounds of violin music echoing from this natural amphitheater. A tourist had brought her a violin and she treated us to a wonderful private concert there.
There are many other wonderful dog-friendly hikes near Canyon Town, including Red Canyon Park and trails at Royal Gorge Park. The trails in Royal Gorge Park can be accessed free of charge and there are several pleasant picnic areas.
The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is just a few miles west of the city, on US-50, which goes to Salida.
There are some good resources for those who plan to go hiking and biking around Cañon City on the Fremont Adventure Recreation or FAR site.
We hope you have the opportunity to visit this unique area.