FATMAP by Strava

Twisted Cistern -> Made in the Shade -> Maze


The freshest singletrack at Canon City's ever-expanding Royal Gorge Trail System.

Mountain Biking Moderate

13 km
264 m
264 m
1-2 hrs
Low Point
1.9 km
High Point
2.1 km
Twisted Cistern -> Made in the Shade -> Maze Map

Canon City has a plan. If an outsider could sum it up, it probably goes something like this: "Build enough high-quality singletrack to put our town on the map as one of the best spots to ride a mountain bike in the state of Colorado. And once we've done that? Well, let's just keep on building trails to make sure we remain one of the best spots to ride… anywhere. While we're at it, let's throw in some other attractions like a Via Ferrata, improve our downtown atmosphere, work on our whitewater park, and generally turn our town into an amazing place to visit and live."


If this is Canon City's plan, then they are absolutely crushing it! Currently, much of the trail development in the region is taking place on city-owned land near the Royal Gorge. Since the city has a plan, the city owns the land, and apparently the city has enough money to get trails built, their hired builders continue to crank out miles and miles of top-notch, purpose-built trail.

At the time of this writing, the route mapped here covers the newest trails that have been completed in the Royal Gorge Trail System. Begin by dropping out of the main parking lot and ripping into a long, flowing descent along the rim of a canyon on the Twisted Cistern trail. Rock moves punctuate the trail, but flow predominates with delightful grade reversals, berms, and optional air opportunities.

Twisted Cistern ends at a lower trailhead, but the descending isn't done just yet! Drop into the freshest trail in the network: Made in the Shade. Keep the flow rolling on this machine-built trail as you continue to descend down and down.

On the lower reaches of Twisted Cistern, the extremely rocky terrain forces the trail to transition from flowy dirt to some tight, technical rocks. In this direction, many of the harder rock sections are downhill, with a couple of entertaining rock gardens providing some delightful spice in an otherwise mellow trail. The rock gardens are still skillfully designed, making them approachable for intermediate riders.

Unfortunately, you'll hit the low point of this route on the furthest reaches of Made in the Shade. Gear down, and get ready to pay for all that sweet descending you just did. While ending the ride with a climb is never ideal, that's just the way the terrain is formed here.

After pedaling up the other half of Made in the Shade, connect to Maze and work your way all the way up to the top of Dream Weaver. For riders with a penchant for pain, drop into Dream Weaver and rip back down to the lower parking lot, then climb back up Twisted Cistern. But if you aren't so masochistic, finish the ride by taking S'Mores to the Canyon Rim trail and enjoy the iconic views of the Royal Gorge from whence the region gets its name—a perfect reward for that arduous climb back up the mountainside!

Undoubtedly, the Royal Gorge will see more singletrack very soon. Stay tuned!



Mostly stable trail tread with some variability, with unavoidable obstacles 8in/20cm tall or less. Other obstacles such as rock gullies and steep sections may exist. Ideal for lower intermediate riders.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between March and November


  • Flow
  • Picturesque
  • Singletrack
  • Rock Slabs
  • Rock Gardens

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area