mountain biking

Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado


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 from the two towns.

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Mountain Biking

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

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!

Fat Biking

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.

Salida Mountain Trails

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.

Arkansas Hills Trail Map | Methodist Mountain Trail Map

Fourmile Travel Management Area

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.

Fourmile Map | Midland Map | Whipple Map


Salida Rides

  • Methodist Mountain Loop
  • Arkansas River Quickie
  • Tenderfoot Mountain Overlook

Bighorn Sheep Canyon Ride

  • Arkansas River Road: Wellsville to Coaldale

Ute Trail Rides

  • Ute Trail to Ghost Town of Turret
  • Ute Trail to the Crater
  • Aspen Ridge to Chinaman Gulch (Buena Vista)
  • Lookout Loop

Rainbow Trail Rides

  • Bear Creek West to Methodist Mountain
  • Methodist Mountain to Poncha Pass (US 285)
  • Silver Creek Loop
  • Bear Creek East to Kerr Gulch

Poncha Pass Rides

  • Round Hill Gulch Loop (hot springs)

Marshall Pass Rides

  • Marshall Pass to Poncha Creek Loop
  • O’Haver Lake Overlook

Monarch Crest Rides

  • Monarch Crest Trail: Out and Back
  • Monarch Crest Trail to Silver Creek
  • Monarch Crest Trail to Marshall Pass
  • Monarch Crest Trail to Agate Creek
  • Monarch Crest Trail to South Fooses Creek
  • Monarch Crest Trail to Greens Creek
  • Monarch Crest Trail North: CDT to Boss Lake

Mount Shavano Rides

  • Blank’s Cabin to Monarch Pass (US 50) Loop

Saint Elmo and Mount Princeton Rides

  • Mount Princeton Hill Climb
  • Mt. Princeton to Cottonwood Pass (hot springs)
  • Saint Elmo to the Alpine Tunnel
  • Continental Divide Trail: Saint Elmo to Tin Cup Pass
  • Ghost Town Tour: Saint Elmo to Tin Cup

Buena Vista Rides

  • Midland Railroad Bicycle Trail
  • Railroad Tunnel River Road
  • Lenhardy Cutoff
  • Twin Lakes to Inter-Laken Loop
  • Twin Lakes to Half Moon Creek

Leadville Rides

  • Lost Canyon Road: Granite to the Columbine Mine
  • Turquoise Lake Loop
  • Hagerman Tunnel Loop


Salida Roads

  • Poncha Pass Summit
  • Salida to Joyful Journey Mineral Hot Springs
  • Monarch Pass Summit
  • Centerville Loop
  • Salida Short Loop
  • Cruiser Town Loop – The Salida Trail
  • Salida to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Lollipop 

Buena Vista Roads

  • Cottonwood Pass Summit
  • Buena Vista to Salida
  • Buena Vista to Leadville
  • Buena Vista to Twin Lakes
  • Mount Princeton Hot Springs Loop
  • Buena Vista Short Loop
  • Nathrop to the Chalk Cliffs

Twin Lakes Roads

  • Independence Pass Summit