Select Page

Location: 

The trail head is located 6.3 miles north of Canon City, starting at Reynolds and US Highway 50.   Take Reynolds north to Fields and proceed north merging with Fremont County Road 9.   Proceed past the Cleveland Dinosaur Quarry and the trail head is just past this point (about a 1/10 of a mile) and on the left.

History:  The trail was completed about 20 years ago to enable a good location to view the Marsh Felch Dinosaur Quarry.   At the overlook the trail head stops at a viewing point of the quarry in the same location that a USGS photographer took a picture in 1888.   It is one of only two locations where the quarry was ever photographed over its lifetime.    The quarry represents a location where Marshall Felch excavated a number of complete dinosaurs in the mid 1880’s with the skeletons being located today primarily in the Smithsonian National Natural History Museum today.  A large part of this website is dedicated to Marshall Felch who was a remarkable excavator.

Marshall Felch in 1888 at the dinosaur Quarry

Marshall Felch in 1888 at the dinosaur Quarry

Geology:  

The Marsh-Felch Quarry  is the type locality for a number of dinosaur species, including Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Diplodocus, Haplocanthosaurus, Labrosaurus, Morosaurus, and Stegosaurus.  The bones of 65 dinosaur individuals were recovered from this quarry.

The dinosaur bones at the main part of the Marsh-Felch Quarry accumulated in a pool near the deepest part of a channel at the tip of a major stream bend. Two kinds of bone accumulations were found at this site. The first kind consists of scattered individual bone specimens and a few articulated specimens, typically strings of neck or tail vertebrae of long-necked sauropod dinosaurs. These bones gradually accumulated as they washed into the deep hole at the tip of the river bend. The second type of accumulation consists of almost complete skeletons, three of which have been collected from this quarry. These are Allosaurus fragilis, Ceratosaurus nasicornus, and Stegosaurus stenops and represent the remains of three individuals that died at the river bend, probably during a drought when this was the last waterhole in the area. The skeleton of the Stegosaurus stenops is very complete, represents the type specimen for the species, and is now on display at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution) in Washington, D.C. The skeletons of Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus from the quarry are also on display at the Smithsonian. The first Jurassic mammals discovered in North America came from this quarry as well.

Allosaurus on display at the Smithsonian

Allosaurus excavated at this location on display at the Smithsonian

Site Description: 

The total length of this trail is about 1300 feet.  The first five hundred feet is well developed dirt trail with two small gully crossings.  The trail has an interpretive sign near the beginning, one dealing with native plants along the way and a third interpretive sign near the end of this first leg of the walk.   This is an excellent place to look at a cross section of a stream channel just below the layer that contained all the dinosaur fossils.  It helps explain the why in regards to the dinosaurs that were found here.

The second leg of the trail was developed by Volunteers  for Outdoor Colorado and it is more rugged and not intended for anyone with any walking difficulties.  The interpretive sign at the overlook is readily visible from here but again, there is some areas of uneven footing and a few switchbacks along the trail.  An interpretive sign at the top overlook location explains the river channels and how this site came to have such a large and well preserved collection of dinosaurs.

Marsh Quarry view location from upper overlook on trail.

Marsh Quarry view location from upper overlook on trail.

Future Options: 

This remarkable trail was developed over several years and is very well done.  Some future improvements that could be evaluated include:

  • better developed seating at the lower interpretive site.
  • improved parking area (gravel)
  • expansion of the trail system to go to the west of the upper overlook, cross the gully, walk through the actual quarry and return down the historic wagon road location.   This would become a loop trail probably tripling the length of the current trail.
  • Add markers in the quarry site area showing approximate locations of where specific dinosaurs would have been found along with some key historic features.   All of this would be developed in a way that ensures site care and protection.  Experience has shown that visitors overall experience is dramatically improved when walking on the actual quarry floor.
  • expansion of interpretive signs with possible QR coding enabling video to be incorporated into the presentation.
  • Possible construction of shade in one or two locations due to the site being relatively hot much of the summer.