Not Far From Beer: Tenderfoot Mountain singlerack is an easy pedal out of downtown Salida. Photo: H. Mark Weidman
The Monarch Crest Trail is a truly unique, must-do ride, but it’s definitely not the only act in town. Whether you roll skinny or fat tires, the active little town of Salida, nestled on the Arkansas with the Collegiate Peaks out the door, offers pedaling for all abilities. Check out our favorites.
Little Rainbow Trail
Just finished last fall, this forgiving singletrack on the flanks of Methodist Mountain is perfect for beginners and flowy enough for experienced riders. With sweeping curves, sandy flats and countless whoop-de-dos, Little Rainbow (~5 miles one way) has it all. From Little Rainbow you can explore more gnarly terrain (not for newbies) on Lost Trail, Racetrack and Deadbird.
Get There: From Hwy 50 in Salida, turn left onto CR 110 (Piñón Ridge Trail). Go 2.5 miles, the trailhead is on your left. For GPS data and a free ViewRanger mobile phone download go to: viewranger.com/gpsadventure (Route Code ELEV 0009).
Rainbow Trail—Silver Creek Loop
Need something bigger? This 19-mile adventure begins with a gradual road climb at the base of Marshall Pass. It merges with sweet, flowing singletrack that cruises through forest, climbs ridges and plummets down to Poncha Pass.
Get There: Head south for 5.5 miles on Hwy 285 from Poncha Springs. Make a right turn at Mears Junction/CR200. Go ~4 miles to the Shirley Site parking lot. For GPS data and a free ViewRanger mobile phone download go to: viewranger.com/gpsadventure (Route Code ELEV 0011).
Salida Mountain Trails (‘S’ Mountain/Tenderfoot)
With 15 miles (and growing yearly) of superb riding through beautiful red rock and piñón-juniper forest, this area offers something for everyone. To get your lungs burning, climb the Frontside Trail, a series of short, challenging switchbacks. At the top, enjoy the breathtaking views in all directions.
Get There: Park at Absolute Bikes to start the ride and to get all the info you need. Absolute Bikes Adventures will also take you on any one of these rides and more. For GPS data and a free ViewRanger mobile phone download go to: viewranger.com/gpsadventure (Route Code ELEV 0013).
This moderately challenging 20-mile loop will get your heart pumping and your soul soaring as you ride in the shadow of an array of majestic and massive mountains. Enjoy the gradual climb away from town as you head northwest on Hwy 291 for ~7 miles. Turn south (left) onto 285 and savor the downhill respite before pushing up Hurricane Hill (7700’). Embrace gravity once you’ve topped out, but slow down long enough to turn left onto CR 140/Airport Rd , an empty, tranquil rolling route that brings you hauling back into town. For GPS data and a free ViewRanger mobile phone download go to: viewranger.com/gpsadventure (Route Code ELEV 0008).
Passes like Independence and Cottonwood get a lot of attention, but ride up Poncha Pass (9,010 feet) and you won’t be disappointed. You’ll be greeted with sensational views of the Arkansas and San Luis Valleys and jaw-dropping vistas of the Sangre de Cristos and Sawatch Mountains. Ride west on blissfully quiet CR 140. When you reach Hwy 285, head south and huff and puff until you reach the top of the pass (7 miles from Poncha Springs). You can head back to town from here, but if you want to grab a glimpse of the rugged, glaciated peaks of the Sangres, you’ll have to descend a bit. Looking for a big day? Cruise all the way to Villa Grove, grab supplies at the store and climb back over the pass to Salida (~ 54 miles RT). For GPS data and a free ViewRanger mobile phone download go to: viewranger.com/gpsadventure (Route Code ELEV 0012)