In 2000, Congress designated 123,000 acres of Western Colorado’s canyon country as the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. Each canyon is different: one features a historic cabin, another features amazing arches, two feature remnants of dinosaurs, all feature looping hiking trails.
Flume Canyon takes hikers on a trip through the sandy desert. From the trailhead (directions below), there’s just one trail. Take a few steps and you’ll come to a split. Go right on the P1 trail for Pollock Canyon, go left on the F1 trail for Flume Canyon. From here, the Flume Canyon follows a sandy trail up and down, in and out of washes, as it winds its way to the loop portion of the hike about 2/3 of a mile from the trailhead.
At the loop, a signed split has two arrows for the F1 trail, meaning hikers can go either way. I’d suggest hiking the loop clockwise (turning left first). This trail follows a bench above a canyon for more than a mile. Enjoy the views down into the canyon and the rocks up above the canyon.
At the D1 trail split, hikers have to make a decision. Take the D1 trail to Devil’s Canyon. Stay on the F1 trail for the Flume Canyon loop. Or create your own loop, by hiking back down the canyon you’ve been hiking above. Looping back down the canyon will create a hike of about 3.6 miles roundtrip. We continued on the F1 loop. From here, hikers enter a narrow canyon. It’s not a slot canyon, but it is neat to see the soaring canyon walls above you. The trail continues up Flume Canyon to a sandy saddle then back down another narrow canyon to another drainage. Here the trail will wind over next to the red rocks for a short time, then back through the desert to beginning of the loop and on to the trailhead.
While brochures say the main loop hike is 4 miles roundtrip, my GPS registered 5.1 miles. The low elevation is about 4,500 feet. The high spot is about 5,000 feet, but there are enough ups and downs along the trail for an overall elevation gain of about 620 feet.
Important note: This hike has little to no shade, so you do not want to hike here in the summer or on a hot day. The trailhead has plenty of parking for horse trailers so expect to see horses along the trail.
Details: The main F1 loop is 5.1 miles with an elevation gain of about 620 feet. The trailhead has a bathroom and a trail register. Bring a map from the Visitor’s Center just in case there’s a problem with the signs.
Directions: From I-70, exit Fruita and turn south. Take Highway 340 about 1.5 miles to Kings View Drive, turn right/west. Take the paved road through the subdivision. At the road split at 0.5 miles, turn left on the dirt road and travel 2.7 miles to the Pollock Bench trailhead.
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