Monarch Crest Trail to South Fooses Creek Mountain Bike Trail - Salida, Colorado

Crest Trail to South Fooses Creek

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.

Monarch Crest Trail to South Fooses Creek remains a little-ridden gem and the shortest descent from the Monarch Crest Trail. Enjoy the first five miles of the Crest Trail, then drop into the S. Fooses Creek drainage leading back to Monarch Pass – almost all downhill. South Fooses Trail passes through a lush forest wonderland – everything from smooth singletrack to slick roots to technical rock fields. This is one of the best rides in the area.

Trailhead Access: This ride requires a shuttle. Drive west on US 50 to Poncha Springs. Continue west on US 50 toward Monarch Pass and drive 9.8 miles past Poncha Springs. Park one car on the left hand side of the road, just past the turnoff to CR 225/Fooses Creek. Drive the other car and bikes 9 miles more to the top of Monarch Pass. Park beneath the gondola building and ride.

Location: Top of Monarch Pass to Fooses Creek/US 50 (below Garfield)
Distance: 14.0 miles – one way
Riding Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
Riding Surface in Miles: Dirt Road 3.0, Doubletrack 1.1, Singletrack 9.9
Aerobic Level: Moderate – altitude
Technical Difficulty: Advanced – steep, rooted and rocky
Elevation in Feet: Low Point 8,502; High Point 11,945; Climbs 740; Descends 3,521
Land Status: USFS, Private Land
Maps: Pahlone Peak, Garfield, Maysville
Options: Skip the shuttle and ride back up Monarch Pass at the end of this ride to get your car.

Crest Trail to South Fooses Creek Mileage Log

Follow the Monarch Crest Trail – Out and Back ride to mile 4.5.
5.1 As you enter a small saddle, look for two small signs pointing to S. Fooses Creek. The drainage lies directly to your left (north). Cross the small stretch of grass to the trail l downhill. The first section of this trail is steep and technical.
6.1 Stay left on the main trail through the forest of huge trees.
6.9 to 7.1 Technical rock garden. After this section the trail mellows out into a wide, pine needle covered dream that speeds through the trees.
8.8 Cross the creek on a rough log bridge.
9.1 Ride through a huge stand of lodgepole pine sprinkled with big mossy boulders. Where are the Ewoks?
9.6 Follow the trail sharply right and cross the creek again.
10.0 The trail passes beautiful beaver ponds. Check out the view behind you.
10.6 Cross the creek on a wooden bridge.
11.0 Cross another creek on a wooden bridge. This is North Fooses Creek. About 25 yards past the bridge, pass the South Fooses Creek Trailhead sign where the singletrack ends at the dirt road. Turn right (north) on the road and follow it as it bends to the left about 40 yards later – stay on the most traveled path.
11.1 Intersection with FSR 225. Turn right and follow the sign pointing to the “South Arkansas River 3”.
11.5 Take the right hand road.
12.5 Stay on the main road.
13.2 Pit toilets on your right hand side. Pass the small Fooses Reservoir. Stay on the main road.
13.7 Cross the South Arkansas River on the one-lane bridge.
13.9 Cross another bridge. At the intersection with CR 225, turn right and pedal up the short hill.
14.0 T-intersection with US 50. If you parked in the right spot, your car will be here.


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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