Barbara Whipple Trails in Buena Vista

By Sue Bjorkman

Three things you’ll never run out of here – trails, views and adventures. But hiking and mountain biking trails aren’t always found way ‘out there.’ The Barbara Whipple Trail System and the Midland Trail System is found right at the end of east Main Street in Buena Vista. Cross the footbridge over the Arkansas River and let miles of adventures begin.

Showcasing the most stunning views of both Collegiate Peaks and the Arkansas River, these well-maintained dirt trails offer a variety of grades, trail lengths and circular routes. And thanks to BV’s “banana belt” climate, these trails are open year-round.

Many treks, such as the Colorado Midland Railroad Tunnels and the Arkansas River Trail, are beginner-friendly  Other popular trails include the Whipple Main Route, South Loop, Steep Shortcut, North Loop, Broken Boyfriend, Midland Bike Trail and Midland Hill Trail.

The Midland Hill is a five mile out-and-back to the summit at 9,556 feet elevation. This challenge rewards with unforgettable views in every direction. To the west, overlook the Arkansas River, Buena Vista and the Collegiate Peaks. To the south view Browns Canyon National Monument, as well as Mt. Ouray, Methodist Mountain and the Sangre de Cristo Range. Looking east, peer into the heart of Four Mile Recreation Area. Due north are the Buffalo Peaks in the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness. All “wow!” inducing sights.

The trail system that boasts such great hiking and the best local single track trails was named after local nature artist Barbara Whipple (1920-1989). She opened one of the first art galleries on Main Street and was co-founder of the Arkansas Valley Council on the Arts. Her inspiration came naturally from exploring this spectacular area.

These trails also play host to several annual runs and races. The most popular are the Paddlefest Spirit Trail Run, the Half-Marathon and the Spirit 8K Race held during CKS Paddlefest held every Memorial Day weekend.