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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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