3 - 4
FATMAP difficulty grade
Buena Vista's trails are split into two different trail networks: the Whipple Trails, right above downtown, and the Midland Hills trails to the southeast.
While the two networks are distinct, they're connected by an old railroad grade-turned gravel road.
This old railroad grade is known as the Midland Trail, taking its name from the now-defunct rail line. Similar to Salida's Arkansas Hills, the trails above Buena Vista (BV) are in a high desert environment, making for a loose-over-hardpack soil composition, with lots of slabby granite rock obstacles.
However, most of the trails in this network are at a slightly higher elevation than Salida (a little over 8,000 feet), meaning they can hold snow for longer in the winter.
The Whipple Trails, overall, are steeper than the trails in the Midland Hills area.
Broken Boyfriend is undoubtedly the marquee trail on the Whipple side, and while it can easily be bypassed on this route, it's one of the most entertaining trails in the system with tons of chunky rock features. The new Bridge-to-Bridge trail and Camp Elevation trails in this zone provide high quality singletrack both up and down at the beginning and end of this loop, respectively, but they still offer tight, serpentine track that's not especially beginner friendly. The Midland Hills trails (Fistful of Dollars, A Few Dollars More, and Django) in comparison aren't as steep as the trails climbing up from downtown BV, but they're arguably even more technical with big, slabby rocks and optional advanced moves.
Once on the singletrack portion of the Midland Trail, the grade is considerably mellower than the other singletrack trails included in this route--it's an old railroad grade, after all.
However, new singletrack portions that were built to reroute around drainages are more technical than the railroad grade itself.
Despite the slightly increased difficulty created by the reroutes, if you choose to park at the upper Midland Trail trailhead and ride this portion as an out-and-back, it's one of the most beginner-friendly singletrack mountain bike rides in the Arkansas Valley. The furthest reaches of this route utilize the new Bacon Bits trail.
While the grade is very mellow and beginner-friendly, the Buena Vista Singletrack Coalition, who built this trail, worked tirelessly to incorporate alternate line options, so beginner riders can stick to the mellow singletrack and advanced riders can opt for big rock up-and-overs, rock drops, and more.