Rainbow Trail #1336: Silver Creek to Mears Junction Hwy 285

 15 votes

10.5 Miles 16.9 Kilometers


369' 113 m


-1,315' -401 m


9,503' 2,897 m


8,540' 2,603 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (14°)

All Clear

18 days agoUpdate

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

Marcel Slootheer


PLEASE NOTE: dirt bikes are allowed on the Rainbow trail, please don't get upset with their presence. Give them some room, signal how many are in your group, and enjoy your ride.


This trail is most commonly ridden in 2 different ways;

1. as a 10.5 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 19 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, starting in early May, 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. This 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....


Rate Trail


4.0 from 15 votes

Get On-Trail Navigation

Send to Phone
Your Check-Ins


Aug 7, 2015
Aaron D
Aug 2, 2015
Bela Bauer
Really enjoyed this trail. More challenging than the rest of the Monarch Crest Epic, but still found it pretty flowy.
Jul 26, 2015
Aaron D
Jun 1, 2015
Ben Calvert
Sep 7, 2014
Matthew Carlson
Aug 5, 2014
Tim Koehler
So many rock gardens, not very flowy, constantly up and down with little tree cover. 10.2mi
Jul 25, 2008
Justin Theilman

Stewarded By

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 15 votes


  4.0 from 15 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star


in Colorado


242 Views Last Month
4,093 Since May 18, 2017
Difficult Difficult



All Clear 18 days ago
Mostly Dry
Update ConditionsHistory

Getting forecast...

FYI 2 reroutes were implemented by the Forest: facebook.com/SalidaMountain... 2 days ago

Marcel, damn, that steep section at the end was one of the best parts of this trail, and it's the main chunk that was replaced in the reroute :( 2 days ago

I actually like the new stuff better already after one ride on it. 2 days ago

MTB Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Mountain Bike

MTB Project is supported by

Support Your Local IMBA Chapter