FATMAP by Strava

Scotch Creek -> Salt Creek Loop

A spectacular ride combining Colorado Trail and a beautiful aspen grove descent.

Mountain Biking Difficult

30 km
1.1 km
1.1 km
3-4 hrs
Low Point
2.6 km
High Point
3.3 km
Scotch Creek -> Salt Creek Loop Map

The small town of Rico, Colorado, has flown under the Colorado radar for decades, but that's changing quickly thanks to the rising fame of the Salt Creek Trail.


While Rico is surrounded by hundreds of miles of fantastic singletrack, Salt Creek is easily the most famous. There are several different ways to access this fabulous descent, but the route mapped here is one of the most rideable—and the most beautiful.

The ride begins with a few miles of required pavement pedaling before climbing the Scotch Creek Road—a rough 4x4 road that, while steep in places, is still very rideable. Rock walls and spires in the valley provide jaw-dropping scenery, and as you climb high into the mountains, long-range views begin to open up.

At the top of the ridge, you'll take a right onto the Colorado Trail, riding up and down along the spine of the ridge for several miles. This stretch of trail is so much more than mere access to Salt Creek—the fabulous singletrack and jaw-dropping views are worthy in their own right! You'll enjoy spectacular panoramas of the San Juans all around, the La Platas in the distance, and the utter wilderness of the Hermosa Creek Drainage below you. While the trail rolls along below treeline, extensive alpine meadows provide plenty of opportunities to drink in the majesty.

Finally, once you hit Salt Creek, it's time to drop those saddles and rip! This absolutely stellar descent follows a narrow ribbon of old-school singletrack flowing down a long ridgeline to the valley below. There are a few road crossings in the upper section—be sure to watch for some hard-to-spot bits of trail that are well worth staying off the road grades for.

After a short stretch on a gated gravel road, you'll drop into the core of the descent, which rails downhill through one of the most beautiful aspen groves you'll find anywhere! The trail rockets downhill, sometimes straightlining and other times pinballing through tight berms that have been added to mitigate erosion. The stretches of singletrack where you're rolling along the very top of the ridge on dark black loamy dirt with aspens towering above you are absolutely surreal and sublime. It's no wonder that some recent articles have listed Salt Creek among the best trails in all of Colorado!

The final pitches of the descent get a bit steeper and rougher, with a few tight switchbacks, rock gardens, and small ledges to negotiate. The views also open up as well, with a few stunning vistas of the wild valley below. All too soon, you'll find yourself back down at the trailhead, amazed at the surreal singletrack experience you just enjoyed!



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.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between July and October


  • Flow
  • Technical
  • Picturesque
  • Singletrack
  • In the forest
  • Road sections
  • Drops
  • Roots
  • Rock Gardens

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area