Oak Flat Loop Trail is a hiking trail in Montrose County, Colorado. It is within Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It is 1.2 miles long and begins at 8,137 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 2.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,152 feet. The South Rim Visitor Center information office and the Gunnison Point (elevation 7,982 feet) viewpoint are near the trailhead. There are also drinking water, a parking, and restrooms.
Oak Flat Loop Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"Reaching a depth of 1,800 feet and spanning as little as 1,100 feet from rim to rim in places, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is unmatched for its combination of narrowness and depth. Although most visitors view the Black Canyon from either the south or north rim, a handful of hardy souls actually descend into the canyon’s depths by way of a few rough routes that access the bottom. While such an endeavor is beyond the realm of this guidebook, one established trail—the 2-mile-long Oak Flat Loop—does drop beneath the south rim for a short distance to offer a more in-depth look at the canyon and its ecosystems."
--Scott S. Warren, 100 Classic Hikes in Colorado (The Mountaineers Books).
"The Utes were able to explain Black Canyon of the Gunnison in one appropriate word—Tomichi, which means “land of high cliffs and plentiful water.” The word “breathtaking” should precede the word “land.” Magnificent, stirring, stimulating, and stunning would work, too. Geology sometimes takes on magnificent qualities. While a monumental story in stone can be gleaned from many points on the south rim drive, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument offers a loop trail that takes the hiker down to a more personal encounter with the mystic gorge. The wildflowers along Oak Flat Loop add an intimate quality. Oak Flat Trail begins on the rim top at the national monument’s handsome visitor center. The loop’s undaunted topography takes in two miles of woods, wildflowers, an impressive river at work, and the sheer awesomeness of the Black Canyon. Descending for most of the way, the trail reaches a great heap of gargantuan boulders which allows hikers to perch and absorb the dynamic vista—2 million years in the making. The last trail segment zigzags steeply but quickly back up to complete the loop. Wildflower Alert: Wildflowers collect along an intimate look into the awesome Black Canyon of the Gunnison."
--Pamela & David Irwin, Colorado's Best Wildflower Hikes: The High Country (Westcliffe Publishers).
"“No other canyon in America combines the depth, narrowness, sheerness, and somber countenance of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.” A keen observation from geologist Wallace Hansen, and a thought shared by many who have peered into the depths of this amazing canyon. Designated national park status in 1993, 14 miles of the 48-mile-long canyon is now within the park.
South Rim Drive provides numerous viewing points into different sections of this gorge, including the spectacular Painted Wall and Warner Point, the canyon’s deepest location. There are a few short hiking trails along the south rim, one of them being this loop adjacent to the visitor center. It is a short trek just below the rim, with two overlooks and dazzling views."
--Steve Johnson & David Weinstein, Best Loop Hikes Colorado (The Mountaineers Books).
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