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.
Monarch Crest Trail to Greens Creek is the most technical and challenging descent from the Monarch Crest Trail. After 7 miles of the Crest Trail, Greens Creek drops steeply down and serves up another 7 miles of sustained technical riding – steep rocky singletrack, loose rocks, talus fields, narrow sidecut trail with dropoffs. It’s challenging and a technical rider’s dream.
Trailhead Access: This ride requires a shuttle. From Salida, drive west on US 50 to Poncha Springs. Drive 2.6 miles past Poncha Springs on US 50 and turn left on CR 220. Park in the wide spot on the left side of the road. Drive the other car and bikes another 16 miles west on US 50 to the summit of Monarch Pass. Park beneath the gondola and ride.
Location: Top of Monarch Pass to Greens Creek/US 50 (just west of Poncha Springs)
Distance: 18.6 miles – one way
Riding Time: 2 to 3 hours
Riding Surface in Miles: Dirt Road 4.5, Doubletrack 0.5, Singletrack 13.6
Aerobic Level: Moderate/Strenuous – altitude and technical
Technical Difficulty: Expert – steep rocky singletrack, sidecut, rooted, talus fields
Elevation in Feet: Low Point 7,782; High Point 11,982; Climbs 761; Descends 4,269
Land Status: USFS, Private Land
Maps: Pahlone Peak, Mount Ouray, Maysville
Follow the Monarch Crest Trail – Out and Back ride to mile 6.9.
6.9 Enter a meadow with a lean-to hut to your left. Continue riding to the signpost at the far side of the meadow. The sign points north to Greens Creek. Turn left and ride across the grassy area. Find the singletrack about 25 yards west of the hut. Lower your seat and ride it. The trail drops into the trees and gets tricky quickly.
7.3 Cross a small creek. Follow the obvious singletrack for the next several miles.
9.5 Cross Greens Creek and be careful not to run over any trout. Just after the creek, stay to the right following the singletrack downstream.
10.3 Talus fields and beaver ponds. After this the trail mellows out a bit and starts passing through aspens.
13.5 The trail traverses a sagebrush choked hillside above the creek.
14.1 The singletrack ends at a dirt road, CR/FSR 221. Turn left on the road, heading downhill. Ride this super fast main road all the way down. Do not take any of the smaller side roads on either side.
15.3 The road enters private land so please stay on the road.
16.6 Cross a one lane bridge over the South Arkansas River.
16.8 T-intersection with CR 220. Turn right (east). This section of CR 220 parallels the South Arkansas River.
18.6 Intersection with US 50. Your shuttle car should be here.
Monarch Crest Trail North: CDT to Boss Lake
From the Monarch Crest this route follows the Continental Divide Trail northeast and climbs the shoulders of Bald Mountain (12,855 ft.). The high altitude climbs are steep and often require pushing. The traverses and descents are steep, rocky and very technical. However, the views are incredible and at one point you can see the entire width of the Rockies, from Pikes Peak to the San Juans. The ride also offers great views of Waterdog Lakes, Hunt Lake, Boss Lake Reservoir and all the surrounding peaks. This is the most technical ride in the book, and should only be attempted by self-sufficient parties with expert riding skills.
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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