Kelly Flats

Laporte, Colorado (Larimer County)

Last Updated: 06/02/2019
4.7 /5 ( 6 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: 05/15 - 11/20
Difficulty: 5-7
(DIFFICULT - SEVERE)
Length: 10.7 miles
Highest Elevation: 8698 feet
Duration: About 3 hours
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: West
Nearest Town: Laporte
Nearest Town w/ Services: Fort Collins
Official Road Name: FR 168
Management Agency: Roosevelt National Forest
District: Canyon Lakes Ranger District
Distance:
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Kelly Flats

Rough and rugged, Kelly Flats 4x4 Road is one of the more difficult trails in northern Colorado. Just west of the narrows in the Poudre Canyon, Kelly Flats is the only 4x4 trail that intersects directly with the Poudre Canyon Highway. The drive to the trailhead through the Poudre Canyon is stunning and breath-taking. Two distinct obstacles highlight this road: Heart Attack Hill and The Chutes. Both obstacles have bypasses, but even the bypass for Heart Attack Hill, known as Aneurysm Hill, can be difficult. Kelly Flats 4x4 Road can be unnerving for beginning off-road drivers and the optional obstacles can be difficult and challenging for experienced drivers with modified rigs. Put your transfer case in low range and enjoy this popular trail.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Kelly Flats

Route Information

Advanced Rating System (BETA)

Recommended Vehicle:
Lightly Modified 4X4 (Small Lift and Larger Tires)
Concerns:

Technical Rating: 5-7
(DIFFICULT - SEVERE)

Rocky or undulated road surface. Rocks and less than 54" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 54" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 10' foot. Tire placement not good. Can be steep and off-camber.

Read more about our rating system

Description

Kelly Flats 4x4 Road is a mixture of rock and dirt surfaces. The hill climbs on Heart Attack Hill and Aneurysm Hill are littered with large loose rocks and traction can be difficult. Heart Attack Hill can be difficult during ideal conditions and downright dangerous when wet. It is steep and lifting one tire off the ground on occasion can be expected. There have been roll-over crashes on Heart Attack Hill and extreme caution is advised. After reaching the top of the hill climbs, Kelly Flats 4x4 Road crosses through private property. Please respect the owner’s property rights by remaining on the road and driving at a reasonable speed. Past the private property lies the short, but extreme obstacle known as The Chutes. This is a route for modified rigs and off-road driving experience. Vehicle damage is likely here. The rest of the trail is a mixture of dirt two-track and occasional rock. Keep a keen eye out for elk and moose while in the forested area as they are often spotted.
This trail crosses private property in several locations. Please remain on the trail to preserve private property rights.

Waypoints

1. Trailhead Kelly Flats

A large parking area greets you at the trailhead. Many off-roaders trailer their rigs and there is room at the trailhead for pull through parking. The parking lot can accommodate large 4x4 groups and is a great place to air down and prep for the rocky trail. Be prepared, this route gets rocky immediately past the Forest Service gate.

2. Rocky Start (0.25 mi)

A few hundred yards up the trail you are presented with the first obstacle. It’s a gate keeper for the trail. If you are uncomfortable and feel like this first obstacle is too much, the remainder of the trail will only get worse. This obstacle, however, can be negotiated with a stock vehicle in low range with little difficulty.

3. The Crossroad (0.6 mi)

This is where you get to make the choice: Heart Attack Hill or Aneurysm Hill. At this fork in the road, you can clearly see Heart Attack Hill on the left fork as it meanders up the hillside. Aneurysm Hill is the bypass and a much easier and more cautious choice. Make your choice, both options are described next.

4. Heart Attack Hill (1.1 mi)

As you approach Heart Attack Hill, you can clearly see that the area is wide open, steep, and rocky. There are some areas of solid rock and other areas of a loose dirt and rock mixture. As you proceed up Heart Attack Hill, you will notice that the trail offers several line options, none of which are easy. This is a dangerous hill and a mistake that leads to a roll-over can end in serious tragedy. Confidence is a must here and experience is highly recommended. Although this trail can be run in either direction, it is not recommended that you take this option down hill. Those traveling uphill will have the right-of-way.

5. Aneurysm Hill (2.1 mi)

Although this is the bypass to Heart Attack Hill, don’t be fooled as this is a difficult route as well. This route starts as a hilly, dirt trail that ends in a rocky steep climb. You have already made it through Waypoint 2, the Gate Keeper Rocky Start, and this option is no more difficult. It is just a long rocky climb to the top. Once at the top, stay to the right. The Heart Attack Hill route intersects from the left. The two options rejoin and continue as a single trail again. Near the start of Aneurysm Hill, there are several dispersed camping opportunities off of the main trail to the east. The area is moderately forested which should allow you to find an ideal camping hide-a-way.

6. Private Road Fork (3 mi)

Veer to the left. There is private property and several houses along the trail. These houses have a private gated access road from the north. The private road is well marked. This part of the trail is a well-maintained gravel road. Please respect the local homeowner’s private property rights and drive in a cautious, respectful manner.

7. The Chutes (5.4 mi)

The Chutes is an alternate route that takes off to the left side of the road. This obstacle is only about 200 yards long and is a rock climb best suited for modified vehicles. The bypass on the right ends up at the top of The Chutes and offers some parking for those who wish to get out and watch as others ascent this obstacle.

8. Last Half Rocks (6 mi)

Another rocky area awaits you on the second half of the trail. The rocks here are mostly solid and straight forward as you begin the gradual descent downhill. This is the last of the significant obstacles on the trail.

9. Trail's End (10.7 mi)

The final leg of the trail proceeds through the forest and an occasional meadow. Moose are abundant in this area and chances are that you can catch a glimpse of this giant creature. The trail ends at the Manhattan Road (County Road 69). A turn to the left (south) will take you back to the Poudre Canyon at the little community of Rustic. A turn to the right will lead you to the Red Feathers Lake Road and the Red Feathers Lake Village.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 40.682875, -105.482818

Starting Point: Fort Collins

Head north on Highway 287 about 10 miles west of Fort Collins. Head west on Colorado Highway 14, the Poudre Canyon Highway, and travel about 25 miles. Kelly Flats 4x4 Road begins on the north side of the road at mile marker 97.

Camping

Dispersed

Dispersed camping is available throughout the Roosevelt National Forest and Kelly Flats offers ample opportunity. Be aware of the private property along the trail to make sure you are using the National Forest for your adventure. If a more formal camping location is your desire, established US Forest Service campgrounds are abundant throughout the Poudre Canyon. In fact, the campground across the highway from the trailhead is known as the Kelly Flats Campground. This campground is first come first served and sees heavy use during the summer months. During hot, dry summer months, the Roosevelt National Forest often times has a fire restriction or fire ban in place which would prohibit open camp fires in dispersed camping locations. Know before you go.

Camping: Kelly Flats

Community

Trail Reviews (9)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran Kelly Flats with the Horsetooth 4 Wheelers group. Watched a few people attempt the chutes, one made it up all the way. This trail was very challenging in my stock 05 Toyota Sequoia on 33's, but made it fine with no damage. Beautiful trail with great views and a bit of everything (rock, mud, water, scenic, etc). Personally, I think the FS might have opened this trail a bit too soon. There were 2 extremely muddy sections between waypoints 8 and 9, which both of required a heavy gas pedal to get through. And since its one of the only trails open right now in the entire state (there was A LOT of traffic), those mud sections are just getting worse and worse. There was a visible new bypass on one of the mud sections. Anyways, great day with a great crew of people. Kelly Flats is a very fun and challenging trail, I highly recommend it.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Open for business. Because of the late season mountain snow and cooler temperatures slowing the snowmelt, Kelly Flats is one of the few trails open in northern Colorado. As a result, it was busy with many wheelers on the trail for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The trail conditions were fabulous. Heart attack Hill at Waypoint 4 was dry and in great shape. There was some standing and running water in the Chutes at Waypoint 7, making passage exceptionally difficult except for the most well built rigs. Some water and trail mud are still present after the Last Half Rocks. Please go through, not around, the mud holes. Please enjoy the ride and "Stay the Trail".

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Opened this weekend with the help of the Forest Service and the adopted club.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Wanted to drive in a ways and check it out. But after only a couple hundred yards there is no way you can get a stockish truck up there with out a winch. Kinda bumbed cause I wanted to check it out. But I guess ill live or wait and catch a ride with some one through the trail some day. "Update" Drove from the backside in a couple miles. Fairly easy. Note its very icy, Had fun though!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
My wifeʻs friend is visiting and I decided the 3 of us would head up from the west side in our stock JKU rubicon. I just learned what a difference airing down makes in the wrangler (Itʻs not nearly as important on a dirt bike) so we thought weʻd go see the meadows up top. Last time I tried it the ride was a bit too scary for me. So it was an easy drive from the west, and everything was beautiful. We came across a guy in a Tacoma TRD who claimed there was only one gnarly obstacle and he got through with only a couple bottom scrapes. So we thought it would be ok. Later we met a couple more wranglers and they had the same comments about the gnarly spot, and added the suggestion to use the lockers. It turned out the gnarly bit was the "Last Half Rocks" in the pics above, and since there were fresh tire tracks it was easy to pick a line and drive up. Later we came across a big steel sign showing the direction for the chutes, and the bypass. Conveniently we had come down the bypass. At this point it is worth mentioning our mindset. Remember, we started with the Ocean Liner Tacoma TRD guy (with his wife/gf) saying he did the "one obstacle" ok with a couple of scrapes underneath. And the two jeepers (who had their women with them as well) said thereʻs just the one obstacle, and that itʻs like a driveway the rest of the way out. More than once my wife, her friend, and I made jokes about the "driveway", but there wasnʻt anything that seemed terribly tough. So when we go to the top of a steep drop, I thought the driveway thing was a pretty funny joke, but hey, that huge truck did this and it didnʻt look too bad, so we crawled down it with no particular difficulty. I decided it would be ok because I could see more "driveway" below. There were some rough spots, but nothing too terrible. So then we get to another steep and messy area, and itʻs wide like a freeway because people have obviously been fighting their way up this thing with a wide variety of lines. At this point Iʻm thinking the guy with the truck drove up this and his skill level is obviously far greater than mine because I canʻt imagine that stock longbed making this trip at all. Still, we crawled down it without too many scrapes and all was well. A bit later on (after going in and out of 4 low too many times, still thinking weʻre supposed to be on this mystical "driveway"), we come across another sign that points one way at "bypass" and the way we came "heart attack hill". Somehow we missed that particular bypass opportunity and the first steep drop we went down was the final cherry on heart attack hill. We agreed that it was highly unlikely that either truck or the jeep guys had come up the tough hill. Overall the trail was in excellent shape and quite a lot of fun. And next time Iʻm heading up from Kelly Flats and figuring out where the bypass for heart attack hill comes out so I see how I missed it. None of us recalls seeing a side road. Because ignorance and the belief a giant truck had come up that hill are the only reasons I went down that way instead of looking for an alternate route.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
A large group took the trek of Kelly Flats on an ominous weather day. The occasional rain sprinkles and light hail made the rock surfaces very slick especially in the chutes. Even with the rain, mud was not a problem anywhere along the trail. An interesting jeep joined in on the fun. A completely restored, vintage 1944 Willy's manufactured for the US Army conquered the entire route. Jeeps have been driving over stuff for more than 75 years and it was nice to see a original stock Willy's with 1940's designed tires prove it's heritage.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
It's early in the season and the trail is in great shape. The US Forest Service opened Kelly Flats last week so this weekend sounded like a great opportunity to check things out. At the trailhead, I met a fairly new off-road driver asking questions about the difficulty of the trail. Of course I referred him to TrailsOffRoad.com for his future questions. As a beginning driver, he approached the gate keeper rocks at waypoint 2 and decided that this trail was probably too much for his comfort level. That's ok, this style of wheeling is not for everybody. The trail was dry and in great shape I was surprised by how few other vehicles I encountered on the trail. In a few weeks, I expect that the weekends will get pretty busy.

Author:
Status: Not Reported
Offroaded on:
The last trip to Kelly Flats was a fun one to say the least. The day started with myself and another person volunteering to go with the U.S. Forest Service to check the condition of a trail in the area to see if it could be opened, unfortunately it could not due to some massive sinkholes. Once we left from there we headed to the back side of Kelly Flats to meet up with the rest of our group at The Chutes for lunch. While this portion of the trip was uneventful, it was still fun as we encountered some wildlife and treated to some great scenery. Once we reached the Chutes everyone else was there already and having fun attempting The Chutes. We played there for about an hour before heading back out to the start of the trail, when I realized something was wrong with my breaks, my drivers front caliper came off as it lost the bolts holding the bracket to the knuckle. Lets just say it was an interesting trip to the Parking Area without any breaks! Overall the trail was in good shape and nothing out of the ordinary from the trail description listed above, and the overall rating would be a 6 but in a dual rating it would be a 5 on the easy side but if you attempt the chutes it would be an 8 this year.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
We ran the trail on 6/5/15 and it was open for the season at that time. We had an LJ on 37s locked front and rear, and a TJ on 35s locked front and rear. This trail really only 2 obstacles. One is Heart Attack Hill not far from the start and this has a bypass around that hill climb. It definitely is a steep, loose climb and should not be taken lightly. The rest of the trail is pretty mellow until you reach the Chutes. That is where all of my pictures are taken from. The Chutes should only be attempted by very well equipped vehicles that have lockers or a winch. Body damage is a very high possibility in this obstacle. There is a bypass for this obstacle. It began to rain fairly heavily on us when we were in the Chutes so the second rig had to winch out because he couldn't get any traction on the rocks. Once you have passed the chutes, there are no real obstacles just a bumpy road through the forest.

Questions & Answers (0)

Writer Information

Tim Palmer

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Tim lives and works in Northern Colorado. He has owned and driven 4X4 vehicles his entire adult life including Jeeps, pick ups, ATVs and UTVs. After high school, Tim's first 4X4 was a 47 Willy's CJ-2A with a flat 4 and a 6-volt electrical system. Typically wheeling in Northern Colorado or Southern Wyoming, Tim loves being in the mountains and the back country. Because of a desire to enjoy and promote responsible off-roading and to keep it available for the future, he belongs to a local 4X4 off-road club. Being part of the Trailsoffroad.com community furthers that goal as well. A love for off-road adventures, camping, fishing, and hunting keeps Tim away from pavement and always exploring. While his wife likes the comfort of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, Tim prefers the ruggedness of the Jeep Wrangler. Although most off-road time is spent in Colorado and Wyoming, an occasional trip to the Moab area is common. Tim will spend the summer going topless and enjoying the value of the great outdoors. Amateur Radio Technician license call sign: ke0npg