Arkansas Valley Singletrack

Think you’ve ridden it all? Put your tires to the dirt on new singletrack in Salida and Buena Vista this weekend.

Close enough for a weekend excursion from the Front Range, the Arkansas Valley offers up the perfect playground with its high concentration of fourteeners, access to the Colorado Trail, ripping rapids in Browns Canyon National Monument, and an extensive system of trails, ideal for hiking, running and—especially—mountain biking. In fact, we thought Salida and Buena Vista had it all. But, with the construction of new trails every year, it just keeps getting better. Here’s your guide to the best new singletrack and more.


Chicken Dinner

Completed in December 2016, this flowy, two-mile multi-use beauty combines berms, jumps, rollers, tables, rock gardens and climbing turns to create an exhilarating, just-technical-enough extension off Sweet Dreams, a relatively new (Summer 2015), intermediate-expert trail that also delivers speed and tests traction. With an elevation change of approximately 400 feet, the intermediate Chicken Dinner rides well in both directions and opens up options for extended loops in the S-Mountain system. It makes an especially good addition to the 23-plus-mile Cottonwood Loop, a route that combines a big chunk of trails in the system, including Frontside, North Backbone, Beasway, Rumba and Cottonwood. Use Chicken Dinner to connect with the Methodist Mountain Trail System—another outstanding and extensive network that starts on the south side of town off of Highway 50.

Rusty Lung

Officially opened in September 2017, this intermediate, two-way trail offers a different option (from the typical combination of Frontside and Lil Rattler) for getting to trails—like North Backbone and Backbone—that delve deeper into the hills. With fun rock gardens, sweeping curves, rollers and stunning views, this 0.8-mile trail begins at Spiral Drive and climbs to the intersection of Lil’ Rattler and Backbone at County Road 173. Named in honor of two local legends, it’s a fitting tribute to Don McClung and the late mountain bike hall-of-famer Mike Rust, visionaries who pioneered the sport in Salida and beyond.

Hooligan and The Dude Abides

Completed in December  2017, the short, experts-only Hooligan features some committing, exposed options that will pucker even the cockiest riders. It starts at the end of Pauli Trail. Another brand new singletrack, The Dude Abides, also starts near Pauli and connects down to North Backbone. It adds yet another climb/descent to the Cottonwood Loop (see above). It’s fast and flowy like Chicken Dinner and Rusty Lung but also tosses in technical, rocky options to keep advanced riders on their toes.


Bacon Bits Trail

Measuring two miles one-way, this sweet new singletrack, which links the Old Midland Cutoff (376 A) and the center section of the Midland Trail, delivers a welcome alternative to a steep doubletrack climb (or descent) for those seeking to explore the Midland Trail Route System and/or tackling the 11.1-mile Gentleman’s Loop. Weaving in and out of interesting terrain features like rocky outcrops and offering striking views of snow-capped fourteeners, Bacon Bits and other new trails like Django (also fun, flowy and techical) are well worth a spin.

Bridge to Bridge Trail

Completed in October 2017 with the help of dedicated volunteers, the newest trail in this system forms an intermediate-level loop between the Barbara Whipple Bridge and the Ramsour Bridge (now called the Midland Hill Bridge), a private bridge recently opened to the public. Its prime location at the south edge of South Main Street offers easier access to trails across the river and opens up exploration options in the Fourmile Area. Because so many of the trails in the Whipple System are challenging and ranked intermediate to advanced, this trail represents efforts to create more options for beginners.

Soulcraft Brewery 

Serving  locally brewed beer—our favorite is the creamy Coconut Stout—in a fun, festive atmosphere with tons of patio seating, frequent concerts and raucous trivia nights, Soulcraft has quickly become the local favorite for a post-ride brew or happy hour meetup with friends. Soak up suds with food from Cosmo’s truck outside: It serves fresh pasta, sauces, sandwiches, salads and sweets.

House Rock Kitchen 

Refuel with a delectable sandwich, burrito, soup or our favorite: a giant bowl of Indian, Greek, Moroccan, Southwestern or BBQ goodness, augmented with your choice of pulled pork, sustainable salmon, grilled chicken, house-smoked beef brisket or housemade veggie patty. No matter what you choose from this eatery that opened in summer 2015, it will be made from healthy, seasonal, local ingredients and served by friendly staff in a buzzing, energetic atmosphere. Open Thursday through Sunday. 

The Biker & The Baker 

Delicious wine, craft beers, charcuterie plates and homemade desserts that include old favorites (think crème brulee and German chocolate cake) and unique concoctions like espresso salted chocolate bark and hot toddy granita are the standard in this funky spot. The brainchild of creative baker Sarah Gartzman (who with her husband, Rob, also runs must-visits Sweetie’s Sandwich Shop and Mo Burrito) the place will refuel your sugar cells after a day of hard riding. Open Thursday through Sunday.

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