- Salida, Poncha Springs
- 32 miles
- Aerobic Difficulty:
- Time To Allow:
- 4 - 6 hours
- Trailhead Elevation:
- 11312 feet
- Elevation Range:
- 12000 feet
The Monarch Crest Trail is a must do mid-summer romp in the mountains for intermediate and above level mountain bikers. The Monarch Pass Trail offers a unique biking experience, covering almost 40 miles of ground with only ten miles of uphill! Part of the Continental Divide Trail, the Monarch Crest Trail winds through the Sawatch Mountains and San Isabel National Forest, featuring a 2300 foot ascent and over 6000 foot descent into the valley below.
Typically approached with a one-way vehicle shuttle, riders are dropped at 11312’ at Monarch Pass. The ride then ascends up above 12000’ and down to Marshall Pass at 10800’. The trail then links with Rainbow Trail for more climbing up to the final descent down into the valley. Total climbing distance is about ten miles, total descent ranges from 20-30 miles.
The Monarch Pass Trail has superb views of the surrounding mountains as it travels through a mix of pine forest and open meadows. Riders on the Monarch Pass Trail can soak in the vistas of surrounding 14000’ mountains and enjoy old mining relics are scattered along the way back down to the valley.
Shuttled by car
Time To Allow:
Depends on aerobic fitness and skill level
High elevation riding
Monarch Crest Trail is multi-use so riders may encounter hikers, trail runners and other users and should follow right of way protocol when meeting other groups. Monarch Crest Trail is high elevation and can experience sudden weather shifts, so riders should bring appropriate warm layers in anticipation of this. In addition, riders should be prepared with a stocked repair kit, first aid kit and extra food and water.
From Salida take Highway 50 to the top of Monarch Pass, past the ski resort and park at the old tramway. The ride ends down by Salida.