The Arkansas River Valley is absolutely one of the very best places you can go if you like mountain biking! With literally hundreds of miles of trails, single track, and forrest roads to choose from, riders of all abilities will find great places to “play” Wewould highly recommend getting a copy of Mark Wolff’s book- Arkansas Valley Mountain Biking: Leadville To Salida, or Salida Singletrack: Mountain Biking in Colorado’s Upper Arkansas Valley, by Nathan Ward. These books give great descriptions of the more popular trails, with difficulty ratings and instructions on how to find the starting point. You can use the US Forest Service website for info on all the trailheads in the area (look up Salida, Leadville and South Park Ranger Districts). It also shows a number of locations to get on the famed Colorado Trail.
Salida - Monarch Crest Trail- We have to start with one of the premier riding trails in the entire country. Starting at Monarch Pass, it follows the continental divide for eleven miles to Marshall Pass. From there you have several options to descend the twenty some miles down to Poncha, one following an old railroad grade making it a nice scenic ride, and several that take steeper routes that can get very technical. This is not a trail for beginners! In addition to the high elevation (and low oxygen), the trail is rocky, steep in some places, and some spots if you fall, you will just keep going down the mountain. The typical way to do this trip is to drive to the High Valley Center, which is a Sinclair gas station and deli in Poncha Springs. They generally run two shuttles a morning, and its best to give them a call at 800-871-5145 to make reservations. They will shuttle you up to Monarch Pass, and once you come off the divide, its all downhill back to the shuttle station. If you are serious about your mountain biking, this is a must do experience!
Nathrop- There is a great area for family friendly mountain biking along forest roads. CR 272 goes up to the Browns Creek Trailhead, and you can drive all the way up to the trailhead parking lot, or you can park as soon as you cross onto the Forest Service land (boundary is well marked). From there, the road gently winds up along a shelf below Mt Antero, and while there are some hills, for the most part they aren’t that bad. You can ride North or South, and there are miles of dirt road to explore.
Buena Vista - Fourmile Area– . Oficially called the Fourmile Travel Management Area, it has over 100,000 acres of public land that is criss crossed with hiking , biking and jeep trails, just East of Buena Vista. There are dozens of bike routes through this area, some great for beginners, and some more challenging. With shuttles, several of the routes are long downhill runs that end in Buena Vista. Best to consult one of the biking guide books to pick the trail you want to ride and get the details on how to get to it. Enjoy!
If you didn't bring your own, you can rent bikes from these great local businesses - Absolute Bikes, Subculture Cyclery ,Salida Bike Company, Trail Head Bike Rentals, and American Adventure Expeditions