The Monarch Crest mountain bike trail located at Poncha Springs, Salida in Colorado can be considered more of an extreme cross-country ride with great technical singletrack.
There are many variations of this ride. The "crest" is considered to be from the drop-off at Monarch Pass to Marshall Pass. This is eleven miles at or above 11,000 ft. The first few miles are the most consistent climbing of the whole ride, so don't get discouraged. There are some forks in the trail you need to be aware of. After riding a dirt road the singletrack will kick off to the right. There is a sign-in box at this junction, feel free to sign in. This is a registry box for the Forest Service to monitor the use on the trail. After a short traverse you will come to another road with a power line over it. Go up and under the power line through an old burn area. Once the timber thickens you will see the trail off to the right marked with a sign. Once on the trail, it is unbroken until Marshall Pass. Don't descent Fooses Creek, Green's Creek or Agate Creek unless you intend to, each is clearly marked. Once at Marshall Pass you will see bathrooms and some signage. From here continue to the summit of the pass where you will see signage for Silver Creek and the CDT. Once back on the CDT you will pedal about a mile, and then descend about a mile to a dirt road. Pedal another mile to the trailhead of Silver Creek on the left.
This is a good place to wait for your group because it is possible to continue along the CDT, missing your turn. If you do go too far you will see a red gate, which is the boundary for the Rio Grande National Forest.
|Nearest Town:||Poncha Springs|
From Salida, head west on US 50 to Poncha Springs. Head south on 285 for less than a quarter of a mile and park one vehicle at the gas station/shuttle parking area (they charge $5 per vehicle). Now head up US 50 west to the top of Monarch Pass and park in the parking area on the left. The trail starts up the dirt road.
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