Ride the Monarch Crest Trail
Colorado › Monarch Crest Trail
Added by Dane Cronin
- Beautiful high-alpine single-track for mountain biking, and hiking!
- Scenic mountain views, lots of wildflowers and some wildlife too. Great views of many "14ers" in the Collegiate peaks
The Monarch Crest Trail has been rated as an IMBA Epic ride and is for sure an epic ride especially ending the ride with the Rainbow Trail. The Monarch Crest Trail is best ridden as a shuttle and begins at the very top of Monarch Pass just outside of Salida or Poncha Springs, Colorado on highway U.S. 50. The High Valley Shuttle service offers two shuttles a day at 8am and 10am for $20.00 cash or $25 credit card and it is best to call ahead and reserve a spot. The trail begins right at the summit of Monarch Pass at an elevation of 11,312 feet. You begin climbing for the first mile and a half or so and at which point you are up on a high alpine traverse and ride above 11,000 feet for about 11 miles. There are several excellent trail options off of this ridge including the Fooses Creek Trail and Agate Creek Trail, both of which offer some great descents and cut the ride a little shorter. The "standard" Monarch Crest ride includes dropping down to Marshall Pass, riding sections of the Continental Divide and Colorado Trail, down to the Silver Creek Trail which is an amazing descent through high-alpine meadows and dense forest along the Silver Creek. Once you finish descending the Silver Creek Trail you can bail out if you're too tired and take a dirt 4x4 road down or proceed to finish the ride by taking the Rainbow Trail all the way back to the road. The Rainbow Trail is really flowy, fast singletrack with a few short but steep climbs and is about 9 miles long and is worth every bit of effort. Once you finish the Rainbow Trail you are dumped out right on highway 285 and you can coast the last 4 miles or so back to the High Valley Shuttle parking lot where you began.
- Mountain Bike
- Tubes/patch kit
- Pump Food and Water
- Rain jacket as it is highly likely to at least rain for a little bit in the afternoons
Spring, Summer, Autumn
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Tough, but epic.
This ride was a perfect combination of well constructed trail that flowed well and beautiful scenery. The guide at the shuttle station was very helpful and purchasing a map is a must. Try to at least bring a small camera because there are many beautiful vistas and we saw a three elk out in the open. The snow banks are fun to slide around on too, and the final descent trail is a wild, adrenaline pumping bomber.
I completed this ride about 5 years ago and it was the most amazing experience. The mountain vistas are breathtaking and the trail has a good mix of terrain throughout the entire ride. The trail is not well marked in some spots and taking a wrong turn could mean adding another couple of hours to your ride. Be sure to purchase a map when you catch the shuttle in the morning. This ride is definitely not for the faint at heart and I agree with the Intermediate skill level rating. Make sure you get some good time in the saddle before setting out on this adventure. It's one you will never forget!
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