Monarch Crest Trail

Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Distance10.2mi
Elevation Gain4,511ft
Trailhead Elevation10,838ft
Top11,976ft
Elevation Min/Max10837/11976ft
Elevation Start/End10838/10838ft

Monarch Crest Trail

Monarch Crest Trail is a hiking and biking trail in Saguache County, Colorado. It is within Gunnison National Forest and San Isabel National Forest. It is 10.2 miles long and begins at 10,838 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 20.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 4,511 feet. Near the trailhead there are an information board, parking, and restrooms. This trail connects with the following: Agate Creek Trail, Trail 1409, Green's Creek, Colorado Trail (Segment 15) and North Fooses.

Monarch Crest Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"This is it: the gold standard by which many other epic mountain bike rides are judged. Monarch Crest Trail is considered the premier mountain bike ride in the entire fourteeners region.

Consistently ranked as one of the top five mountain bike rides in the United States, the trail covers roughly 40 miles of descending singletrack over tundra-like terrain, across talus fields, through old-growth forests and high-plains desert. This ride is not to be missed—an impressive addition to anyone’s mountain biking résumé."

"This is one of the best mountain bike rides in the United States. Hands down! This ride offers beautiful views, excellent singletrack, awesome downhills, technical terrain, and riding through several different life zones. Very few mountain bike rides in the United States offer the variety of terrain and scenery that this ride does. If you are in the area and you are a strong cyclist with good technical skills, this is a must-do ride.

From Gunnison travel east on U.S. Highway 50 to the top of Monarch Pass (11,307 feet) and a parking area on the right. The mileage starts here. A shuttle is required for this ride. From the top of Monarch Pass, drive 18.5 miles to Poncha Springs and leave a car near the gas station in Poncha Springs. Drive back up to Monarch Pass and the start of the ride. This may seem like a hassle, but this ride is worth the trouble. You won’t regret it."

Monarch Crest Trail Reviews

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8/22/2005
One of the best. Great point-to-point ride with sweet singletrack. Meet some mtn bike lovers too and chat away. Easy to access. Shuttle from Salida is cheap and worth the $$ instead of carpooling if you ride 1 or 2.
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8/16/2003
One of the most scenic trails - from wide open vistas to thick forests. It's neither technical nor strenuous for the fit and experienced mountain biker, just a beautiful ride and it's mostly downhill. There are many options to drop into Poncha Springs depending on your ability. Connect to the Silver Creek trail then to the Rainbow Trail. To make the ride more challenging, continue on the Rainbow trail over the highway and begin a 1000' climb and then drop into Salida.
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9/5/2002
The views are breath taking and so was the first 5 miles of climbing. Once I setteled in it was wonderful. Awesome down hill runs and challenging single track made my first long ride an unbeleivable experience. I will be riding the crest again.
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7/6/2002
Epic! One of the few trails that can hold that title. The trail is in great shape. This trail has it all, bombing downhills through the forest, alpine climbs, long rolling single tracks. Be sure to take extra equiptment, the trail eats up tubes and rims.
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9/9/2000
The trail, as usual, is in excellent shape. Even though we started from Monarch Pass at 9:30, we still got caught in a short rain/hail storm midway through the trail. Make sure the weather is safe before you cross the exposed section on the contintental divide, a lightning storm came in very quickly on us up there a couple weeks ago and I was scared shitless. An epic ride, it goes through 4 ecosystems on your journey down from the Continental divide down to Poncha Springs or Salida. I've ridden the entire loop from Salida on hwy 50 to the pass down across 285 back to Salida via Rainbow trail. It's long and difficult, but with 44 miles of great singletrack, how can you not? The section of trail from 285 to Salida is a steep 1200 foot climb and a technical descent (especially when you're bonked), but other than that it's rolling and fast and epic. Afterwards, lounge in the Salida hot springs. Truly an epic, one of the top must-do rides in the Colorado/the world.
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Trail Information

Gunnison National Forest
Nearby City
Gunnison National Forest
Parks
Hiking, Horseback Riding
Additional Use
Salida Mountain Trails; www.salidamountaintrails.org San Isabel National Forest, Salida Ranger District, 5575 Cleora Rd., Salida 81201; (719) 539-3591.
Local Contacts
USGS Bonanza, Poncha Pass, Pahlone Peak, Mount Ouray, Salida West; 14ers Region Mountain Bike Guide, available free at area locations and chambers of commerce; DeLorme: Colorado Atlas & Gazetteer: Page 69 A-7 (trailhead); DeLorme: Colorado Atlas & Gazetteer: Page 60 D-2 (shuttle point).
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018