MTB Project Logo

A great - but tough - singletrack finish to the Monarch Crest, or a slightly easier ride as part of a loop.

Your Rating: Rating Rating Rating Rating Rating      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add To-Do · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key






9,503' 2,896 m


8,522' 2,598 m


410' 125 m


1,373' 419 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (7°)

Dogs Unknown

E-Bikes Allowed

PLEASE NOTE: Dirt bikes are allowed on the Rainbow Trail, please don't get upset with their presence. This section of the Rainbow trail is adopted by the Central Colorado Mountain Riders and they make it possible for everyone to enjoy this trail. Give dirt bikes space to pass, signal how many are in your group, and enjoy your ride.


(Latest GPS track and description include reroutes made by the Forest Service.)

This trail is most commonly ridden in 2 different ways;

1. as a 11.3 mile singletrack extension of the Monarch Crest Trail after Silver Creek Trail, heading east, to Hwy 285/Mears Junction, before rolling down into Poncha Springs. Although the elevation profile makes this section of the Rainbow trail look relatively mild, tired legs make for a hard ride after Monarch Crest/Silver Creek.

2. as part of a 20.5 mile loop, the Hwy 285/Mears Junction - County Rd 47YY/Silver Creek Rd - Rainbow Trail loop. Park at the end of this section of the Rainbow trail at Hwy 285/Mears Junction, ride up County Rd 47YY/Silver Creek Rd, which is a fairly easy gradual climb and only gets hard near the end, right before the Rainbow trailhead. Then ride the Rainbow trail back to Hwy 285/Mears Junction with fresher legs; this is a favorite loop for the locals, early in the season, before the Monarch Crest opens up in early July (typically).

Look for the Rainbow Trail sign just off the County Rd 47YY/Toll Road Gulch, on the South side.

Heading east the trail begins as a mellow ride before it gets to several creek crossings, with increasingly steeper and narrow switchback climbs out of those creeks. As this is an older moto trail some of the uphill grades aren't very mountain bike friendly and these short climbs require good bursts of energy to clean. No shame in walking any of them.

Basically the trail turns into the hill, then climbs back out onto the sides where great views provide a mental break, before slowly dipping down on some fast & beautiful sections of skinny singletrack. Rinse & Repeat.

After 7 or so miles the character changes and the trail becomes rougher & rockier, both on the uphills and especially on the extended downhills. If you're tired, this is where you'd crash. Where in the past the trail finished by going almost straight down the last hill to Hwy 285 (with a few awkward switch-backs), the Forest Service has rerouted this last section by adding almost a mile long contour trail, with longer turns and better flow. This new section is narrow and a blast to ride. It continues until the trail dumps you out on Hwy 285 @ Mears Junction.

Either roll down the hill to Poncha Springs or Salida, or open up that cold beer stored in the cooler in your car if you did the loop. Or, cross the road and continue on the Rainbow Trail, if you're crazy enough....


Shared By:

Marcel S

Trail Ratings

  3.7 from 35 votes


  3.7 from 35 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Trail Rankings


in Colorado


4 Views Last Month
7,962 Since May 18, 2017
Difficult Difficult



A few natural obstacles along the way.
Sep 27, 2013 near Salida, CO
Rediscovering the Rainbow trail after 6 months of old man winter...
May 23, 2016 near Salida, CO
Little bit of blue sky on the Rainbow Trail
Aug 29, 2014 near Salida, CO
A look back a the Monarch Crest trail while riding the Rainbow Trail
Aug 29, 2014 near Salida, CO
Nice and smoooooth...
Sep 27, 2013 near Salida, CO


Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Join the Community

Create your FREE account today!
Already have an account? Login to close this notice.

Get Started.