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Monarch Crest

Average Rating:    (4.69 of 5)

No. of Reviews: 45

The section of the Continental Divide Trail that travels south from Monarch Pass is known as the Monarch Crest Trail or Crest Trail. It begins at 11,312 foot Monarch Pass and climbs to around 12,000 before dropping back down to 10,800 foot Marshall Pass. This ride is most often done as a shuttle, and there are more than half a dozen options for riding back down to Salida. It is not a downhill ride, however. The high elevation and rugged terrain make for a difficult, challenging ride. Start early to avoid getting caught in a high mountain thunder storm. Only snow-free from July-September most years. Maps, food, and full-service bike shops are available in Salida.
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Latitude
38.47778207104823
Longitude
-106.3176155090332
Trail Directions
HI-WAY 50 TO THE TOP OF MONARCH PASS PARK BY TRAMWAY
Trail Length
20+
Trail Level
Intermediate
Trail Type
Singletrack
City/County
Poncho Springs
State/Territory/Province
CO
Web Address
   


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Reviews 1 - 5 (45 Reviews Total) View All | Next 5

Review Date
August 25, 2014

Overall Rating
 4 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 4 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 3 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Ridden Once

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Reviewed by: James and Friends ,  Cross Country Rider

Summary:
This review perspective is from an intermediate level with 6 of us that went on August 23, 2014. It was a father/son kind of ride. Fathers in late 40's and sons 17-22: Most reviews we read up on were good. This ride had a ton of uphill climbs. Don't visualize this as a shuttle ride up and bike down type trail. The most basic route we took was 33 miles, including riding back into Poncha Springs to our vehicles. Signage is fairly weak for such a popular trail, just remember to follow the Colorado Trail. At times it felt like a busy highway, which is good that others are around incase of emergency. Other times, you're pulling off a lot to let them pass (intermediate is slow vs other riders plus we wanted to enjoy the views and take pictures). Above Tree Line was awesome and worth the "Epic" rating. It's the first 1/3 of your ride. Then we took Silver Creek and hit the Forest Service Road to the Hwy - did not do Rainbow Trail. Beware, Silver Creek has some intense steep, technical, and rocky down hill. Gary Fisher passed us along the way on Silver Creek - that was cool. Once you get through Silver Creek, the rest is down hill - about 10 miles. Prepare for a lot of climbing throughout and maybe a few sections of walking your bike through. The Shuttle is convenient for $20 and drivers are very knowledgeable and helpful, but if you have a buddy that can haul you and your bikes up Monarch Pass to the gift shop (20 minute highway drive) you all can save the $20 each and apply it towards some excellent pizza, beer, and tips in Salida!! Great town and really cool river walk.

Recommended Route:
Lots of riders on the trail, so hard to get lost. Basic rule is to follow the Colorado Trail. At some point, about 11 miles in, you will come out on a forest service road and public bathrooms prior to turning left onon Trail 203. Don't continue down that old railroad bed/forest service road - go left on Trail 203 unless you have a purchased map and know where you're going. The free map you get isn't that good or accurate. On Trail 203 you head to Silver Creek, which is clearly marked. Once at the end of Silver creek you are on a road that will lead you to either Rainbow Trail to the right or continue on the road to the highway and head back into Poncha Springs. Once at the highway, it is 4.7 miles down hill coasting into town. Plan for riding time of 3.5 hrs, not including your stops.



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Review Date
September 2, 2012

Overall Rating
 5 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 5 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 3 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Once a year

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Reviewed by: Johhnny CO ,  Cross Country Rider

Summary:
Beware: This ride is FantastiC!! Dont be fooled by others. Ups and Downs and everything in between. Be ready for the long haul Some nice variations to do(Agate, S.Foose, Rainbow, Marshal Pass rd., ect) Camp at Old Monarch Pass if you desire to stay up high.

Recommended Route:
Crest>Silver Creek>Rainbow

Other recommended trails in the same area:
CT, Princeton hotspring to Cottonwood hotspring
North Backbone, "S" mountain trails



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Review Date
July 6, 2012

Overall Rating
 2 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 3 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 2 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Ridden Once

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Reviewed by: Inuitbiker ,  Downhiller

Summary:
This review is for the classic crest ride from Monarch pass to Marshall Pass then to Silver Creek Trail to Rainbow Trail to town. It was not as epic as I expected. The ride had a lot of uphills and boring sections. Don't get me wrong, there were some short but fun downhill sections and very pumpable single track. I was expecting more downhills. The ride was very low in the technical aspect, which is good for beginners. There were a lot more fire roads than expected. The scenery and altitude is nothing special unless you are from somewhere flat. However, it is nice to not see or hear an interstate. Silver and Rainbow were the fun part of this ride. They definitely better when wet or packed down. Perhaps, dropping Fooses would have been better (looked down the start of Fooses- steep and fun) but it would make the ride shorter. The moto riders in the area were pretty cool and friendly.

Recommended Route:
Shuttle/Ride to Marshall Pass to CT to Silver Creek Trail to Rainbow to town

or

Shuttle/Ride to Monarch Pass Parking lot to FR906 (Access rd under gondi) to Crest Trail to Fooses to Hwy to town



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Review Date
August 2, 2011

Overall Rating
 5 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 4 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 3 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Ridden Once

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Reviewed by: Blake ,  Cross Country Rider

Summary:
I totally enjoyed the ride today. 35 miles of fun ridable single track. We caught a shuttle to the top of Monarch pass from High Valley Bike Shuttle in Poncha Springs. While we opted to rent a GPS, I would have gotten the map if I were to do it over again. Terrain ranged from alpine meadow, high desert, aspen forests and mountain pine. While a very challenging ride, it was all ridable for an above cross country rider from Wisconsin. It took us about 5 hrs.

After the ride we enjoyed huge sandwiches and micro brews at happy hour prices at the High Valley Shop bar.

Great trial.

Recommended Route:
Start at Monarch Pass - Monarch Crest to the Colorado Trail, to Silver Creek Trail to Rainbow to Hwy 285 north, take the single track at mile marker 124 on the left side of the highway, look for the posts about a hundred yards past the mile marker that mark the entrance to the trail on an old rail road bed.



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Review Date
August 3, 2009

Overall Rating
 5 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 5 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 3 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Ridden Once

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Reviewed by: samjolman ,  Weekend Warrior

Summary:
In a word, EPIC! This trail has everything. Scree fields, hard climbs, rocky down hill bombs, tree runs, high altitude meadows, amazing views, even a section in a mountain stream. It is very, very fun and not too technical. It requires being in shape more than being an expert biker. But be ready for a long, exhausting day. The absolute best part is the view from the upper part of the trail (the first 11 miles or so). You are right at tree line and can see forever. AMAZING!

Full suspension will save your butt and body. I did it on a hard tail and am no longer a hard tail purist. After miles of rock strewn trail, I now realize the value of full suspension. I also burned out my front Avid brake. That made the last half pretty scary.

Start early (before 10 AM) to avoid storms. Definitely buy the $12 map in the gift shop at the top of the pass (or a local bike shop). Very helpful map.

Recommended Route:
We opted to do the Rainbow trail, which has a lot of ups and downs in drainage wash outs. If I wasn't exhausted, it would have been a lot of fun. But after 20 miles, it was close to miserable because of all the extra climbs. You can take the silver creek two track and save yourself the pain.

We parked at the Poncha Springs visitor center (where 285 and 50 meet). If you can, go south on 285 a little more and park at the gas station on the East side of the street. We saw a lot of bikers there. It saves you a little extra effort.



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Reviews 1 - 5 (45 Reviews Total) View All | Next 5

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