DIRECTIONS: From Canon City, take Hwy 50 west to County Road 3A. Head south on 3A for 2.7 miles to the boundary of Royal Gorge Park and the trailhead off to the right.
Royal Gorge Park is not just for tourists folks... While the vast majority of visitors only experience the visitors center and the gorge bridge, the park has a wonderful trail system that is often overlooked except by local hikers and bikers. The Made in the Shade Trail explores a side canyon north of the Royal Gorge. The loop has wonderful views of the canyon as well as wonderful views off to the west of the souther tip of the Front Range, the Sangre De Cristo's and on a clear day, the Sawatch Mountains far to the west.
From the Trailhead you have a few options. You can travel this loop either way you choose, this description follows the loop counterclockwise. Look for the trail sign to the left of the map and information kiosk. The trail starts easy enough following the rock terrain through scrub oaks and short evergreen trees. Before long the first views of the side canyon become apparent and the westerly views start to materialize.
The trail generally follows the southern edge of a ridge along the canyon wall. The trail dips down along the canyon and rises back to the ridge frequently. At the far end of the ridge the trail crosses over to the northern edge of the rim and begins turning back to the east. You'll soon see the first views of the Point Alta Vista Overlook in the distance and before long you'll reach the junction with the newly constructed One Track Mind Trail. At this point you have a decision to make...finish out the Made in the Shade Loop, or take a long detour out to Point Alta Vista. If you have the time and energy, the hike to Point Alta Vista is worth it. See this description for the Point Alta Vista hike.
If you choose to skip the One Track Mind detour, then follow the Made in the Shade Trail as it turns east. The trail provides nice views down a red rock rimmed canyon and good views to the north. The trail then begins a series of long switchbacks through evergreen forest as it winds its way back to the trailhead.
This loop is a nice way to see a seldom visited area of this park. The views are nice and the trail is pleasant but for the truly epic views you need to add on the Point Alta Vista hike for a round trip distance of 9 miles. That being said, if you are looking for a good 3 mile loop that stays relatively dry in the winter, then this is a great option.
HIKES BY REGION
NATIONAL PARK HIKES
- BENT'S OLD FORT NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
- COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
- CURECANTI NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
- DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
- FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
- MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
- ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
- GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK
- HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT
- SAND CREEK MASSACRE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- YUCCA HOUSE NATIONAL MONUMENT
- HIKES BY CATEGORY
- $UPPORT GHC
- INTERACTIVE MAP
Made in the Shade Loop
Royal Gorge Park
Date Hiked: December 28, 2020
Distance: 3 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 420 ft
Elevation Min/Max: 6,049 to 6,555 ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 38.47339, -105.30794
Managing Agency: City of Canon City