Salida Mountain Trails Announces Opening of New Chicken Dinner Trail

Salida Mountain Trails (SMT) is excited to announce the opening of the latest addition to the Arkansas Hills Trail System: the new Chicken Dinner trail.

This 2.1-mile section of new multi-use trail is an extension off the existing Sweet Dreams trail. It starts on BLM land and heads further east, and finishes down on CR173, on County land, towards the Rocky Mountain Livestock sale barn and the water treatment plant. Hikers, runners and mountain bikers will experience a wide variety of terrain and views through a trail that consists of a mix of machine and hand built sections. The trail is considered bi-directional and of intermediate level, due to the elevation change (almost 400ft) and features (climbing turns, rollers, berms, and rock gardens). The new Chicken Dinner trail offers users an extended outing on the Arkansas Hills Trail System, and it can be used as a connector trail to the east side of Salida and the Methodist Mountain Trail System that starts at the Burmac trailhead, just off Highway 50.

SMT hired local trail builder, Tony Boone Trails LLC, for the construction of this project, which took about two months. They mixed our vision with their creative energy and came up with another new experience on S-Mountain. During construction, the crew found several barely legible, embossed, rusty steel signs, one of which was for the Chicken Dinner candy bar roll, a product of the the marketing folks at Sperry Candy Co., circa 1920s. The Chicken Dinner moniker was thought to evoke the full-belly satisfaction of a hearty dinner. This nut roll candy bar enjoyed 40 years of popularity and was essentially the precursor to modern energy bars. The Chicken Dinner name was then adopted as the new official trail name.

SMT organized one ShinDig (volunteer work day) to complete the last section of trail at the intersection with Sweet Dreams. 37 volunteers showed up to be a part of the new trail creation, and under direction of Tony’s crew a last section of 450ft was finished.

SMT wants to remind all trail users that the trail bed is still very soft and sandy in places due to the lack of moisture over the last couple of months. Please tread lightly; ride/hike gently on the uphill portion of the tread, stay in the bottoms of the berms, don’t skid, keep dogs off the berms and other soft earthen features. The trail might be considered too smooth and groomed by some trail users “out of the box,” but give it a season or two and it will become the rockier version that we envisioned. Most of all, be safe!

We want to thank the following parties that were involved in this project:

Mike Sugaski, for the original concept of this new trail (which started off as “Southern Dreams”) and for providing the easement necessary to cross from BLM land to County land.
Ray Kitson, owner of the Boathouse Cantina, for donations via his 1% program, which allowed for hiring of a professional trail builder to create this trail.
The BLM, for approving the concept as part of a Travel Management Plan.
Chaffee County, for allowing the last section of trail to connect to CR173 with a new trailhead.
Absolute Bikes and Hubbub Brewing for sponsoring the SMT ShinDig.
Last but not least, a big “thank you” to Tony Boone Trails LLC for constructing an amazing new addition to our local trail system, and the crew members: Tony Boone (owner), Andrew Mesesan, Cat Gruener, Scott Link, Chris House, and Brady Scott.
Salida Mountain Trails is an all-volunteer organization committed to building and maintaining sustainable, non-motorized, multi-use trails on public lands adjoining the city of Salida. SMT is a 501c3 not for profit organization started in 2004.

Tastes Like Chicken!

Marcel Slootheer
SMT - Chicken Dinner Project Lead

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