Blue Sky Loop

Salida

A short but sweet sampling of Penitente mountain biking.

Mountain Biking Difficult

Distance
4.3 km
Ascent
107 m
Descent
107 m
Low Point
2.4 km
High Point
2.5 km
Gradient
VIEW ON MAP
Blue Sky Loop Map

Description

Penitente Canyon is best-known as a sport climbing hotspot. With routes ranging from easy to difficult, the rock climbing access here is easy and the canyon is simply stunning.

However, Penitente is quickly becoming known for a totally different aspect: it’s trail system. While mountain bikers aren’t allowed to ride through the bottom of Penitente Canyon (except during the annual 12 Hours of Penitence race), the trail network spreads out around the canyon proper, running through smaller canyons and making excellent use of the unique geology of the area.

Most of the trails range from upper intermediate to advanced difficulty… if you stick to the main trail tread. Thanks to the multitude of bedrock protrusions jutting out from the meager film of dirt spread over the earth’s surface, alternate lines and much more challenging rock features abound in this area. Add in a jaunt up onto a knife-edge rock, or drop into a near-vertical rock roll feature.

The environment here is unequivocally high desert, meaning it offers superb weather and plenty of sunshine in the spring and fall. During the winter, the San Luis Valley actually gets bitter-cold due to inversion from the towering mountains, so during mid-winter Penitente isn’t a great choice. Similarly, the summer is blazing-hot, with temperatures often breaking 100 degrees.

The Blue Sky Loop, mapped here, is a short-but-sweet sampling of the type of mountain biking that Penitente has on offer. Overall, the Blue Sky Loop trends slightly more toward the intermediate trail spectrum than the other more advanced trails in the area.

Blue Sky still offers up plenty of entertaining rock features, beautiful views of the rocky landscape and distant mountain ranges, and downright fun singletrack riding!

Add this loop in to the end of a longer ride, try this first if you’re not very confident on the bike just yet, or throw this in after a long day of rock climbing. Either way, the singletrack here will reward!

Difficulty

Difficult

Mostly stable trail tread with some variability featuring larger and more unavoidable obstacles that may include, but not be limited to: bigger stones, roots, steps, and narrow curves. Compared to lower intermediate, technical difficulty is more advanced and grades of slopes are steeper. Ideal for upper intermediate riders.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

April, May, June, September, October, November

Features

  • Technical
  • Drops
  • Roots
  • Rock Rolls
  • Rock Gardens

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