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Tenderfoot Mountain, more commonly referred to as “S-Mountain” for the white concrete “S” on its side, rises over 500 feet above downtown Salida.
While it is dwarfed by the true mountains rising over 7,000 feet above the valley floor to the west, and even the Arkansas Hills rising some 4,000 feet above the valley floor to the east, a hike to the “S” on S-Mountain affords stunning views of Salida, the Arkansas Valley, and the majestic mountains in the Heart of the Rockies region. The 500-foot climb to the top of the mountain is achievable by just about anybody, given enough time.
The trail winds back and forth across the mountain, creating a hike that’s never too steep, technical, or strenuous.
Mapped here is the shortest legal route to the lookout point on top of the mountain, which meanders back and forth.
If you would prefer a hike with less mileage but a steeper climb, follow the obvious social trails that cut straight up the mountainside, passing Loyal Duke’s grave. The Arkansas Valley is known as the “banana belt” thanks to how warm and mild the region stays—even in the dead of winter.
In the midst of this unique climate, S-Mountain is one of the warmest and driest hikes in the valley.
Its exposed south-facing slopes catch all of the rays of the low angle winter sunlight, generally melting the snow shortly after it falls.
While sometimes snow does stick to the mountain for a few days in mid-winter, if you live in the High Rockies region and are yearning for a dry trail to hike, S-Mountain is one of your best bets! If climbing to the top of S-Mountain has just whet your appetite for adventure, extend your hike by venturing further into the Arkansas Hills Trail System.
Fantastic singletrack trails spread out in all directions, providing a variety of loop options of varying lengths—from short, to marathon distance.