Salida’s newest trail considered “best yet” by local bikers and hikers -CITIZEN VIDEO

Like a great highway of trading ancients, the necessary trail work was attacked from both ends with the labor of many nameless workers. Volunteers met in the middle a few weeks ago, on the north side of a quiet hillside overlooking the Continental Divide.

Terminating, or beginning depending on how you view life, on Ute Trail just past the turn off to Pinon Hills, this sculpted adventure winds above Ute Heights, parallelling, as well as shortcutting the pavement which accesses “Cottonwood,” one of Salida’s classic Mountain Bike rides. The north end of the trail is easy to find at a wide spot on the right side of CR175 (Ute Trail), roughly a quarter-mile after the pavement ends. A sign has been installed, and there is ample parking.

We’ve ridden, hiked and worked on the trail countless times, and though it all “goes” relatively easily on a bike, it is still a challenging ride until it becomes familiar. It is more difficult than another local favorite, The Rainbow Trail above Bear Creek, but that is by design. IMBA and other trail design advocates profess the value of a “stacked loop system,” with easier trails closer to urban areas and central trail heads, and more challenging trails farther back/higher up. This philosophy is slightly more challenging to implement in Salida where things tend to turn up quickly. But, as a stop into one of the Salida Mountain Trails board meetings, or a visit to their site will show you, they’re just getting started.

For hikers, it’s the perfect hike in many ways; easily accessible from town, yet with views that create a sense of being in a more alpine setting, high above the valley floor. At one point the trail dips east, back into Dead Horse Canyon which, like the new Sand Dunes re-route, showcases the exoticness of the Southern Ark River Valley with its towering hoodoos, red cliff walls, cool canyons and Pinon washes, all of which may cause you to wonder how many cats and Native Americans have called these places home.

Many people are calling this their new favorite trail for good reason, so go check it out over the holidays, it’s an excellent winter hike. If you like what you see, come out and work on the next trail for an hour or a day. Old or young, it’s a great way to meet your neighbors.

Thanks to SMT! This is an amazing gift to the community.

SMT North Backbone Trail Ribbon Cutting from Shawn Gillis on Vimeo.

The Citizen is happy to provide a forum for comments and discussion. Please be civil, truthful, and relevant. Please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. Real names are appreciated.

14 Responses to “Salida’s newest trail considered “best yet” by local bikers and hikers -CITIZEN VIDEO”

  1. Tony Boone

    This trail is my "Absolute" favorite ride out our backdoor! Great work everyone, wishin I was there to ride it every week! Nice video Shawn, and great work by the best community in the galaxy!

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  2. Jack Chivvis

    20+ years ago when Don McClung, Mike Rust, myself and a couple others started kicking rocks out of some of the deer trails up behind Tenderfoot to sketch out a little loop that we that we called the Sunset trail I don't think that we could have even imagined something as cool as all the trails that are up there now. A huge thanks to Shawn and everyone involved. Every time I ride up there I have to stop and pinch myself to make sure it is not just a dream.

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  3. juane

    So, so, so sorry the kiosk was mapless for the dedication.
    I'm working on it!

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  4. Bill Smith

    Thanks to all of those who made this happen. I can't say enough how much it makes me happy to ride those trails and share them with my kids.

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  5. Kim Bouldin

    Thank you, thank you, for all of your hard work! Life will be easier for my kids while they are learning how to mountain bike. I remember being a beginner with a high frustration level on the Sunset trail and cannot wait to get out on the new trail. As a business owner and citizen, I appreciate all that you have done to enhance our community!

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  6. Steve Stucko

    Finally had a chance to cruise the North Backbone from end to end. What an amazing trail! Fun to ride, hike or run; amazing geography and incredible views. Thank you to everyone that worked hard to make it happen.
    Oh, and to the person that "accidentally" dropped their elephant nik naks along the trail, please don't forget to pick them up next time you are in the area. On your mantle they are a collection, along a trail in the Colorado mountains they are just trash.

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  7. Joe Judd

    I love the elephants! I have only found a couple. They are a nice surprise for my daughter and inspire her to hike and search. To me, there is a great differnce between trash and interesting, hand carved knick knacks. I think one could argue that the trail isn't natural, either. But that doesn't mean we should get rid of it.

    While we're at it, what's up with someone cutting down the painted trees on the "S Hill"? It's not as if the artist destroyed a living tree in the name of art. The trees always drew attention. I'm sad that someone felt they had to be militant (or just a vandal), no matter their thought process. Perhaps there could be a discussion about the worth of such public art, instead of a personal lynching of public art?

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  8. Paige Judd

    I miss the lovely little elephants. As I travelled down the trail, I kept my eyes open for their little happy faces. Lately, I have noticed that most of them are gone. This makes me sad. I hope that the grinch who took them will consider replacing them for others to enjoy. If one considers the spirit in which they were placed, I am sure that one will realize that they were meant to foster a sense of curiosity and wonder, not to litter the trail.

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  9. Ripley Judd age 7

    Please put the elephants back so others can enjoy them!

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  10. Steve Stucko

    Family Judd,
    Having hiked the trail 4 times this week, I can say that all the elephants we know of are still up there, although I have noticed that they are being moved around to different locations.
    I appreciate and enjoy the hunt for treasures as well, such as the cairn in Cottonwood. I just think that the choice of nik naks unrelated to their surroundings could have been better. How about original carvings of indigenous animals?
    I am thrilled that so many are able to enjoy this great trail!

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  11. Jack Chivvis

    Say...... maybe we could get the city employees to hide some of their bonus money along the trail for us to find. That would be fun.

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  12. Joseph Thomas ( JT )

    Our family hiked the Lil Rattler yesterday then went to the top of Tenderfoot . What great views from up there . When friends come to town I always take them to the top of Tenderfoot for a look see . Just another reason I think Salida is the best place to live .

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