Salida and Buena Vista are well known for their biking, both road and mountain varieties. In both towns, rides are literally right out the door – there’s no need to load, unload, load and unload gear to get out for rides and back to home base.
And whatever the season – early spring, late fall or dead of winter – it’s biking time. Mild temperatures and trails on sandy slopes make for year-round riding in the Upper Arkansas Valley.
A fun choice is to ride the 24 miles from Salida to Buena Vista or vice-versa and make a coffee shop stop before heading back. County roads to the west of both towns provide a multitude of riding options. Those out to test their mettle have Poncha, Monarch, Cottonwood and Independence passes close by with up to 4,000 feet of elevation gain
Buena Vista and Salida, Colorado are legendary in Colorado for their mountain bike trails. The renowned single track of the Monarch Crest Trail steals the show. The best thing about the Monarch Crest is the diversity of the rides down from the Crest itself. The easiest route follows Marshall Pass Road, a dirt two-lane historic railroad grade. At the other end of the difficulty spectrum, it’s full tilt rock and roll technical downhill via Green’s Creek trail.
Road biking in the Upper Arkansas River Valley is a remarkable experience. The mild and cool high rocky climate makes cycling the Buena Vista and Salida areas comfortable pretty much 10 months out of the year. Road biking enthusiasts are just beginning to take notice of what the two-wheeled connoisseurs have already figured out: whether your tastes run to skinny wheels or fat tires, riding Chaffee County rocks!
Topping out at 12,126 feet, the Cottonwood Pass road, also known as county road 306, is paved on the east side from Buena Vista and graded gravel on the west. During the summer months this route can provide an alternative way to Crested Butte. During the winter it is closed to cars and trucks and becomes a multi use playground. 360 degree views from the top of the pass include several mountain ranges full of thirteen and fourteen thousand foot peaks. The sunset from here is especially nice.
In Salida, mountain bikers have a wide variety of trails to ride right from town on Arkansas Hills or Methodist Mountain trails. Among a multitude of choices outside of town, the famed Monarch Crest Trail starts at the top of Monarch Pass and connections to the Colorado Trail are just off U.S. 50 between Maysville and Garfield.
Off Buena Vista’s East Main Street, a foot and bike bridge leads to the Barbara Whipple and Midland trail systems, with routes over and around the Arkansas Hills and into the Fourmile Travel Management Area. West of town are a number of great rides starting with the Colorado Trail among a host of others.
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