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Unlike most of the hikes in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park that either run along the very top of the canyon rim or drop straight down to the bottom, the Oak Flat Loop descends a short ways into the canyon before climbing back up via a set of switchbacks.
This creates a great intermediate-difficulty hike with about 500 vertical feet of elevation gain and loss along the 1.7-mile round-trip distance. "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," writes Katie Lyons on [The Outbound.com](https://www.theoutbound.com/colorado/hiking/hike-the-oak-flat-loop).
The route as mapped not only follows the Oak Flat Loop, but it also makes a stop at the Gunnison Point overlook.
Throughout the hike, you'll have the opportunity to pause at a number of different overlooks, each one providing a slightly different perspective of the canyon. Unlike the wide gravel paths common in many national parks, the Oak Flat Loop consists of a beautiful dirt singletrack trail that actually allows you to feel like you're having a true backcountry-style adventure, even if it's for just a couple of miles.