This short-ish ride is a great introduction to the Arkansas Hills Trail System, linking Frontside
to Lil Rattler
followed by the western half of Backbone
and the bottom of Sand Dunes
It's a great ride to get a feel for the trails and plenty of opportunity to link to other routes in the system.
The Arkansas Hills Trail System can be accessed directly from downtown Salida so be prepared for other bikers, trail runners, hikers and dog walkers.
Start your tour on S Mountain from the parking area at the end of F St along the river. Pass through the fence on the south side of the lot and bear right along the railroad tracks. Cross over the tracks at the obvious spot and stay left and pedal a few hundred yards.
Turn left and you'll be on Frontside
, a moderate singletrack climb that starts along the bottom of S Mountain and then winds its way up to Spiral Dr. The climb is a bit of a grind at first and then turns into a steady pedal.
Stay straight at the intersection with Burnpile and then catch your breath once you reach the upper trailhead. From here, look for Lil Rattler
behind the trail kiosk.
is another fun section of singletrack. It starts out climbing again but much easier as it makes a gradual push towards the backside of S Mountain. When it hits Spiral Drive keep sharp left and continue pedaling up around the toe of a slope.
From here the route climbs gently some more to the intersection with Rd 173 and Backbone
. Stay right and descend slightly across dry open hillsides to Sand Dunes
The quick tour ends with a sandy descent interrupted by a few challenging creek boulders that take you back out to the railroad.
Cruise back into Salida!