Guidebook

Pedal Both Alpine and Desert on Salida’s Best MTB Trails

Pedal through alpine tundra, deep forests, and cacti on the best singletrack in Salida’s incredibly diverse trail system.

Description

The small mountain town of Salida, Colorado, is home to one of the most diverse mountain bike trail systems in the nation, if not the world. With hundreds of miles of singletrack running between the mountain peaks and the valley floor, the trail network around Salida spreads through an ecosystem that's equally diverse.

The mighty Sawatch Mountain Range, filled with towering summits that soar over 14,000 feet, soars above the town of Salida. Chaffee County (of which Salida is the county seat) is home to the most 14,000-foot peaks of any county in the lower 48, meaning you'll find an absurd amount of superb alpine mountain biking here! The Monarch Crest, Salida's marquee ride, is famous across the country for its high alpine traverse and spectacular mountain views.

As you work your way down into the deep pine and aspen forests filled with loamy black dirt trails, and then continue lower still into more arid climate zones, you'll eventually reach a bonafide desert environment. Most notably, the Arkansas Hills Trail System on the eastern side of Salida is home to a high desert environ featuring sandy, rocky trails lined by sharp cacti.

Whatever your flavor of mountain bike trail you prefer, you're almost guaranteed to find a new favorite ride in Salida's ever-expanding network of sweet, sweet singletrack!

Monarch Crest
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Monarch Crest

Salida
58.6 km
1,043 m
2,222 m
This epic trail provides high alpine ridge top riding at treeline with views for hundreds of miles in all directions, finishing with a ripping descent down the mountain.
Difficult
Private
Cottonwood Loop
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Cottonwood Loop

Salida
29.4 km
757 m
757 m
Pedal from downtown Salida high into the Arkansas Hills to access a ripping descent with fast, flowy sections and uber-gnarly rock gardens.
Severe
Private
Canyon Creek Loop
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Canyon Creek Loop

Salida
30.8 km
1,167 m
1,167 m
The 10-mile descent ripping down the Canyon Creek Trail from this route's high point atop a 12,500-foot mountain is to die for!
Severe
Private
Alpine Tunnel Loop
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Alpine Tunnel Loop

Buena Vista
28.6 km
807 m
807 m
Traverse the Continental Divide Trail above 12,000 feet and enjoy historic sites and high-alpine lakes.
Moderate
Private
Colorado Trail: Highway 50 to Cottonwood Pass
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Colorado Trail: Highway 50 to Cottonwood Pass

Salida
57.6 km
2,071 m
1,912 m
A long segment of the Colorado Trail running along the west side of the Arkansas Valley that provides flowy singletrack punctuated by steep climbs and descents.
Difficult
Private
Bear Creek Loop
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Bear Creek Loop

Salida
42.3 km
1,204 m
1,204 m
A long loop with big climbs from downtown Salida, the singletrack is fast and flowy, making for a great cross country ride.
Moderate
Private
Arkansas Hills Tech Ride: Unkle Nazty and Sand Dunes
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Arkansas Hills Tech Ride: Unkle Nazty and Sand Dunes

Salida
12.6 km
433 m
433 m
A rowdy collection of the original tech trails in the Arkansas Hills.
Extreme
Private
Trans-Backbone
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Trans-Backbone

Salida
20.6 km
416 m
416 m
The Trans-Backbone route is an efficient, easy-to-navigate route through the Arkansas Hills trail system, with singletrack ranging from technical and challenging to flowy and fast.
Difficult
Private
Arkansas Hills Flow Ride
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Arkansas Hills Flow Ride

Salida
13.6 km
341 m
341 m
Get into a flow state on the newest singletrack trails in the Arkansas Hills Trail System!
Moderate
Private
Little Rainbow Loop
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Little Rainbow Loop

Salida
20.8 km
360 m
360 m
One of the least technical rides in Salida, the singletrack is still flowy and fun.
Easy
Private
Gutz Descent
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Gutz Descent

Salida
5.4 km
13 m
587 m
A rowdy fall line descent dropping thousands of feet down to the town of Salida.
Severe
Private
Fooses Creek Descent
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Fooses Creek Descent

Salida
13.6 km
30 m
962 m
The shortest Monarch Crest descent is also one of the rowdiest!
Severe
Private
Monarch Crest -> Green's Creek
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Monarch Crest -> Green's Creek

Salida
33.8 km
280 m
1,461 m
Green's Creek is the most relentlessly-technical singletrack trail dropping off of the Monarch Crest, making it a favorite of enduro racers.
Severe
Private
Agate Creek Descent
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Agate Creek Descent

Salida
15.6 km
126 m
932 m
A fast, technical descent down the west side of the Continental Divide from the Monarch Crest Trail
Severe
Private