Check out our favorite trail recommendations! Salida has over 35 miles of trails accessible from town, plus many miles of high alpine riding. The Arkansas Hills and Methodist Mountain systems are our local ride-from-town trails and are rideable almost year-round. In the summer, the Monarch Crest, Rainbow Trail and the Colorado Trail offer awesome single track with unbeatable views.
Stop in the shop to get our custom map (or order one from our webstore), and we’ll point you in the direction for everything from a quick 1/2 hour fast loop to a multi-hour ride. We recommend MTBProject as your trail app of choice, as we have created suggested loops with good riding descriptions.
Thanks to our local trail organization, Salida Mountain Trails, for building and maintaining our local trail network!
Listed below are some top trail recommendations:
The Monarch Crest Trail is the 11-mile section of Continental Divide Trail between Monarch Pass and Marshall Pass. It's 11 miles. Most bike riders ride it from Monarch to Marshall, and then continue on to do more bike riding. Many, many riders call the full ride they do the Monarch Crest. But for clarity, when staff from Absolute Bikes are talking about The Monarch Crest, we are referring to the 11 miles from Monarch to Marshall. The longer ride, which includes the Silver Creek Trail and alternately the Rainbow Trail, we refer to as The Classic Crest Route.
One of the reasons that the Monarch Crest Trail is so wonderful is that it is very high. For about 6 miles of its 11 mile length, the Crest Trail is between 11,950 and 12,000 feet elevation. Which means that it is above treeline, and near the top of the Continental Divide ridge. The 360° views, the tiny high alpine flowers, and the rarified air make that stretch of trail pure rocky mountain magic.
Enjoy the Monarch Crest Trail, please be nice to everyone you see. Enjoy those 11 miles of magic, then head on down a little lower to continue riding awesome singletrack, whether it's the Crest Classic Route, Starvation Creek, Agate Creek, Greens Creek, or the Colorado Trail down Fooses Creek. Stop by Absolute for maps, food, beta and last minute supplies.
Cottonwood Tour is one of our favorites. Ride it as a loop starting with a 7-mile dirt road climb up CR 175. The singletrack starts on Beasway and climbs a little more before the descent starts! Beasway leads into Rumba, which then leads into Cottonwood. When the trail intersects with Backbone and Sweet Dreams, take your pick depending on how your legs are feeling. Right on Backbone is a faster exit when you descent Lower Sand Dunes, whereas Sweet Dreams leads to Chicken Dinner for a sweet and yummy flowy descent off the Arkansas Hills.
NOTE: Beasway has a seasonal closure Dec 15 - March 15 for wildlife.
S-Mountain – Chicken for Dinner
This is the classic favorite S-Mountain loop that climbs Frontside and follows the contours of the hills using Lil Rattler, Backbone, Sweet Dreams and then descends down Chicken Dinner. A great 10 mile loop!
S-Mtn Short Loop
This loop is a great introduction to the Arkansas Hills trails. It includes easier singletrack, but still a good mix of a steady climb and a fun downhill.
The Dude Abides – Rusty Lung
This is one of our favorite lunch or post-work rides. Ride up the standard Frontside and Lil’ Rattler, and then grunt up CR 173 to the Dude Abides. Try to wipe the smile off your face as you descend berms and fun little rock lines (there are easy rideable lines parallel to some harder rock drops – so scout before you launch!). Take a left on North Backbone back to Rusty Lung.
S-Mtn Gnar Ride
Ready to test your chops? This loop is full of technical climbing and descending with some flowy fun trail mixed in. Not for the faint of heart.
Methodist Mountain – Spartans & Little Rainbow Loop
The Methodist Mountain system is the “easiest” in the Salida area. It can be ridden as a larger loop from town, or smaller loops/out-and-back from the parking lot.
To ride the loop from the Little Rainbow Trailhead, follow above directions to the parking lot. Ride Spartan West to Spartan East and turn right on Little Rainbow for a nice 6ish mile loop.
For a bit longer of a ride, take CR 110 north out of town and pedal a 2wd dirt road to the trailhead. Here you have options – our current favorite is to ride Spartan West, cross CR 110 to Spartan East until it meets up with Little Rainbow. Take a left on Little Rainbow and ride it until Race Track (or Lost or Dead Bird). The trail puts you at the Burmac trailhead and you can then ride back to town – take the deer trail on the left side of the highway, and cross 50 at the Forest Service office, then take CR 105 back to town for less traffic.
Silver Creek Road – Rainbow Loop
Most locals ride this loop in May and June, well before the Monarch Crest opens up, or after it closes due to snow. It’s a relatively easy nine or so mile ride up on Silver Creek Road, followed by 11.3 miles of great singletrack on the Rainbow Trail. Park on 285 where the trail ends and pedal 1/4 to the Mears Junction/Marshall Pass Rd. Stay left on Silver Creek Rd at the Shirley Site and go 5.5 miles to the Silver Creek Trailhead.
Bear Creek – Rainbow- Columbine Loop
This ride starts with a 3-mile grind up a sometimes steep and loose high clearance 4-wheel drive road, but what follows is 6 miles of really good singletrack, with a sweet downhill back to the trailhead. Rated difficult because of that 3-mile grind up the road. Rainbow is a moto trail, so be prepared to encounter dirt bikes.