“A point-to-point route with outstanding views of the Arkansas River Valley.
— Leslie Kehmeier
This ride is a point-to-point that travels the Rainbow Trail sections east of Hwy 285. It's rugged in nature with plenty of climbs and technical singletrack.
Start on the Rainbow Trail near the Hayden Creek Campground and head west.
You'll be faced with a rugged climb right out of the gate. The trail is fairly narrow and rocky. After the initial ascent, you'll enjoy a long downhill section with a few short climbs mixed in. You'll also pass the tops of several drainages running down into the Arkansas River Valley. Every once in awhile, you can catch some nice views of the surrounding mountains.
The second climb is about midway through the route. It's short, steep, and hugs the lower slopes of the mountains to your left. Once you top out, there is a quick descent and then another short climb to a more rolling section of the Rainbow Trail.
The final ascent before you reach Bear Creek is similar to what you've already experienced. It's a steep uphill with rocks and roots. For the most part, you'll be in a mix of aspen and pine forest.
Enjoy the quick descent into the intersection Bear Creek. From here, continue on with the Rainbow Trail - Methodist section.
From the junction, head west on singletrack towards County Road 108 and Highway 285. The trail is up and down through more open sage meadows and pine forests. There's no significant climbs through here. After passing the intersection with Columbine
trail, the grade starts to trend in an uphill direction and starts to bend more towards the northwest.
The final climb is tough as the route ascends out of the drainage below Poncha Mountain. The last bit switchbacks below the 10,000 ft plus mountain before reaching a saddle above Hwy 285. From here, the downhill to the road is steep as well with a few ridgeline sections. The trail is likely to have loose and rocky sections, so take care through here.
From the highway, you can coast back to Poncha Springs and Salida or continue across to jump on the Rainbow Trail section that heads up towards Silver Creek Trail