Bear Creek West to Methodist Mountain - Mountain Biking Guide Salida

Bear Creek West to Methodist Mountain

Published with permission from the guide book: The Local’s Adventure Guide to Singletrack & Tarmac – Mountain Bike Trails and Road Rides in the Upper Arkansas River Valley by Nathan Ward.

  • Featuring 36 Mountain Bike Trails and 18 Road Rides in and around Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado – beginner to expert, town to summit, smooth tarmac to extreme singletrack.
  • Maps and Elevation Profiles for each ride, including altitude gain and loss.
  • Local Advice on riding areas and seasons, where to sleep, where to soak, where to find the best pizza, the best coffee and the best bars in Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado.

Bear Creek West to Methodist Mountain is the smoothest section of the Rainbow Trail and a local mainstay. The singletrack swoops through the forest, dips into small valleys and climbs back out to cross mountain meadows. It offers great views of the Collegiate Peaks to the west and a good chance to see wildlife.

Trailhead Access: From the US 50/US 291 junction at the east edge of Salida, drive 2.4 miles east on US 50. Turn right (south) on dirt CR 101. Continue on CR 101 for another 3.3 miles until you reach a large pullout on the right side of the road. Park here and ride.

Location: Rainbow Trail, south of Salida
Distance: 17 miles – out and back
Riding Time: 2.5 hours
Riding Surface in Miles: Dirt Road 5, Singletrack 12
Aerobic Level: Strenuous – climbing
Technical Difficulty: Intermediate – rocky, tight corners, sidecut
Elevation in Feet: Low Point 7,907; High Point 9,089; Climbs 2,445; Descends 1,390
Land Status: USFS
Maps: Wellsville, Poncha Pass
Note: It’s a good route for the dogs, if they are fit and like to sniff singletrack.
Options: Ride from town. Follow the Arkansas River Quickie route and turn left (east) on US 50 until you reach CR 101. Turn right (south). Pedal uphill and add 5.7 miles each direction.

Bear Creek West to Methodist Mountain Mileage Log

0.0 From the parking lot, ride across the cattle guard and start uphill.
2.2 CR 101A turns left. Stay straight on CR 101 directly uphill. Bear Creek runs next to the road. Listen for its beautiful song over the sound of your heaving lungs.
2.5 Cross a creek and reach the top of the climb at the trailhead! Follow the sign which points right (west), “Methodist Mountain 6”. That’s right, six sweet miles of singletrack await your smiling. Sign in with the USFS and spin’em.
5.4 Stay on the main trail. Be ready for sharp corners and narrow sidecut sections.
8.4 The singletrack T-intersections into CR 108. Turn your bike around and enjoy 6 more miles of the good life. Turn left at the trailhead and follow CR 101 back to the car.


We want you to have a safe and enjoyable trip into Colorado’s backcountry. Be prepared it could be a long walk out. Be sure to read this list of equipment you should bring on your ride along with tips to make your biking trip more enjoyable.


The Colorado backcountry is popular – bikers, hikers, motorcycle riders, hunters and equestrians use the trail system in the Arkansas Valley, and everyone wants a private piece of heaven. Even if you don’t agree with everyone’s motives or methods of travel, please treat them in a courteous manner.


If you require search and rescue services, it can be costly. Buy a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card to protect yourself. Funds from the CORSAR program go into the Colorado Search and Rescue (SAR) Fund. If a CORSAR card holder becomes lost or injured in the backcountry, the Colorado SAR Fund pays eligible search and rescue expenses.




Bicycle riding is a physically strenuous activity with many risks and dangers. Hazards, natural or man made, whether noted in this book or not, can be encountered at any time under any situation. As a cyclist, we assume you know your personal abilities and limitations. This book represents nothing more than a guide to the trails and roads and is not meant to replace your common sense, your ability to navigate in the wilderness or in traffic, or your ability to ride a bicycle safely.

In addition, the mileages and routes listed in this text are only suggestions. There may be variances and you may get lost. We recommend everyone uses a GPS and topographical map to navigate. Most routes in this text are located on public land, but some trails pass through or adjacent to private land. Respect the land owner’s rights and obey all signs regarding trail use. The same goes for wilderness areas which prohibit mountain bike riding. Neither the author, nor the publisher, nor anyone else mentioned in this book are responsible or liable in any way for any accident, injury or any action brought against anyone traveling any route listed in this book. All cyclists and their companions assume responsibility for themselves. Ride at your own risk.

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