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Our website was established in 2008 and we are looking forward to providing outstanding information about cycling in Colorado. Our specialty is in the area of Mountain and Road biking. We also strive to include options for family rides or for any non-riders of the family (while mom, dad, sister or brother may be enjoying their favorite road or trail). This ensures that families can recreate together in the surrounding region. Feel free to contact us at: thom@switchbackcycling.com
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Southcentral

Southcentral - Poncha Springs

Monarch Crest Trail

Type: Mountain Bike
Start elevation: 11,312 ft.
End-Aspen: 7,500 ft.
Total climb: 1,000 ft.
Descent: 3,800 ft.
Distance: 28 miles










This trail offers everything you could wish for in a mountain biking experience high along the Continental Divide. There are several ways to approach this cycling giant. I’m going to try and provide much more than the usual details so you can navigate this area. The first is the legendary Monarch Crest trail itself. It starts at an elevation of 11,312 ft. on Monarch Pass along Highway 50. You then travel eighteen miles west of Poncha Springs. This trail will leave you awestruck. Starting at the parking lot of the gondola on Forest Trail 531 go approx. 0.3 miles up. There will be a sign to Marshall Pass and other trails ahead. One sign will be the Continental Divide Trail to Marshall Pass in 9 miles, continue on the CDT. You will be on some double track for a short while which then turns to singletrack for the next 8.5 miles. This area is above timberline and in the summer months, is prone to thunderstorms. It is strongly advised that you be prepared for any type of weather at this elevation. Continue on the trail past South Fooses Creek sign, roughly 5 miles into the ride. There will be a 400 foot descent which will lead you to a shelter on the left. This is a good place for a quick snack and a little water. Stay to the right and prepare for the last section of climbing, about 200 more feet of elevation for about a mile to the Agate Creek sign. Stay on the CDT, do not go down just yet, keep to the left at this point for 3 more miles of single- track. The trail becomes a four wheel drive trail, CR 234.2G and descends quickly, nearly 600 vertical feet down in less than 2 miles. There will be several signs at the bottom, look for the one that says Gray’s Creek (about a mile after crossing the Chaffee-Saguache county line). Continue to the curved embankment on the right and stay on the four wheel drive path to O’Haver Lake and ride the shore line of the lake along FR/CR 202A. Continue forward for one half mile to a “T” intersection with a stop sign and turn left and continue on CR200 to Hwy 285.

If you happen to have a couple of days to ride, there are several other rides to do from the top of the pass. South Fooses Creek, roughly 5 miles into the ride, starts with a drop that will really test your bike handling skills and brakes. This trail offers almost total cross country singletrack riding. It drops like a rock and then rolls out through some absolutely beautiful terrain. It is short and sweet. Pick-up areas are easy to access from HWY 50.

The Rainbow Trail is also a must ride with a multi day option. This trail is awesome! A little longer than the Crest trail, but certainly well worth it. You will be in true Colorado Wilderness and encounter more stunning views than you ever thought possible. There is a shuttle service in Poncha Springs for a good price if necessary, but you can park and shuttle yourself without a problem. Maps are available in nearby Salida. Absolute Bikes or Otero Cyclery will accommodate most of your needs.


South Fooses Creek

Perhaps an over looked but highly rated trail off the Crest. To access this trail from the top, you will start off Monarch Pass and follow the Monarch Crest Trail 5 miles to a saddle. Look for the faded trail sign on the left. From this point is approximately 12 miles of intense single track with water crossings, bridges, roots, and many other obstacles that will make this ride memorable. There is an approximately 3,000 foot vertical drop through aspen and pine groves to fire roads at the bottom. From Poncha Springs take US 50 west to CR225 to access the pick-up point. You will be on private property, stay on the road and park in designated areas. This ride will require a shuttle (like most rides off the Crest ) for maximum enjoyment. There are a few easily accessible camping spots if you decide to stay for an overnight along the way.
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