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A fantastic shuttle finishing in a beautiful, narrow mountain valley with few other riders.


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Map Key

28.5

Miles

45.9

KM

80%

Singletrack

11,970' 3,648 m

High

7,460' 2,274 m

Low

1,560' 475 m

Up

5,425' 1,654 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

30%

Max Grade (17°)

Dogs Off-leash

E-Bikes Not Allowed

Features Views

Usually snow covered until the 4th of July. Even then, you may have to cross several tall snow drifts on the top of the Divide, which can be sketchy. Begin your ride early to avoid being caught in afternoon thunderstorms.

Overview

The Monarch Crest is renowned as one of the best mountain bike rides in the world, no matter how you choose to ride it! The version of the Crest shown here incorporates the classic high-alpine traverse just above treeline, but it finishes by descending a lesser-ridden local favorite known as Starvation Creek. Ripping down through a narrow, rugged valley, you'll feel like you're in the middle of nowhere on this trail!

Need to Know

The Monarch Crest is a long point-to-point ride at very high elevation. Even though this is a shuttle route, there's 1,700 vertical feet of climbing along the way. The elevation profile might make it look like an easy 'downhill shuttle ride,' while in fact, all that high-altitude climbing takes most of the time and energy as the ride progresses. This isn't a beginner ride.

Be prepared for extreme weather including rain, snow and intense sun. Pack plenty of food and water in addition to a few extra layers of clothes.

Self-sufficiency is a must, and adventure is guaranteed.

Description

The ride departs Monarch Pass and begins climbing immediately on a mix of dirt roads and singletrack trail. The trail quickly climbs to treeline, where it rolls up and down for about 10 miles along some of the most beautiful singletrack in the nation! There are a couple of short, steep climbs and descents before a long ripper downhill to Marshall Pass.

At the top of Marshall Pass, there are two options to reach Starvation Creek. If you follow the sign pointing toward Starvation, you'll end up on a brutal 4x4 road climb. The better option, shown here, follows the Colorado Trail before taking a left turn off of a switchback to head toward Starvation Creek. This short connector trail through the woods might feel a bit like a renegade rake-and-ride... which is because it is. At the time of this writing, the connector is newly legalized and signed, making for easier navigation for those unfamiliar with the area.

After dropping down a short descent on the connector, take a right onto Starvation Creek Road and look for the beginning of the Starvation Creek singletrack trail on your right. Despite a carsonite post, it can sometimes be easy to miss the right turn.

Starvation Creek is an absolutely ripping descent! Be sure to watch for the weird double-whoop at the top, which is difficult or impossible to jump cleanly. The initial descent in the trees is fast and sometimes loose.

The trail then drops into the bottom of the valley and gets, if anything, tighter and more technical. You'll feel like you're truly in the middle of nowhere as you wind through this narrow mountain valley.

The trail pops out onto Starvation Creek Road—take a right downhill. At the bridge, take a right to cross, and then curve left to head down to Shirley Townsite. At Shirley, take a left on the well-graded dirt road and pedal out to the highway. Another left turn down the pavement will return you to Poncha Springs.

Contacts

Shared By:

Greg Heil

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote

#11

in Monarch Pass

#3181

Overall
  4.0 from 1 vote
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Recommended Route Rankings

#11

in Monarch Pass

#470

in Colorado

#3,181

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Photos

Monarch Crest
Sep 7, 2016 near Whitepine, CO
Somewhere on the Monarch Crest Trail
Jul 13, 2015 near Salida, CO
Late October on the Monarch Crest.
Nov 1, 2016 near Whitepine, CO
There's snow in them hills!
Sep 25, 2017 near Whitepine, CO
Riding above treeline. Probably the highest I have ever ridden my bike. Lung busting altitude.
Oct 12, 2016 near Whitepine, CO
Beautiful summer morning on the 'crest
Aug 10, 2016 near Salida, CO

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