Arkansas Hills

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↑ 4,600 ft
↓ 5,500 ft
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4.15 out of 5
About This Trail
added by GimmeAraise Gnarly on June 11, 2011
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Update 9/9/13 by mtbgreg1:

The Arkansas Hills Trail System is the closest singletrack trail system to downtown Salida... and by that I mean that it begins directly from downtown! Just cross the F-street bridge, hang a right through the fence, and follow the tire tracks to mountain bike heaven!

Arkansas Hills follows the principles of the "stacked loop" design, meaning that the easier trails are lower down the mountain, but as you travel up and out the trails get progressively harder and harder. There are some smooth (but exposed) beginner-friendly trails on the lower reaches of S-Mountain, but higher up in the hills you can easily challenge yourself with super-advanced rock gardens, narrow singletrack, short-steep descents, and a wide array of gnar!

Due to their position in the dry, warm area of the valley, these trails get HOT during the summer... and when you ride them, you'll note the cacti and realize that this hills are actually a high-desert environment. However, those hot, dry summers also indicate that these hills stay mostly snow-free and mild all through the winter, making this trail system (as well as the other, lower trails in the area) a winter destination for the folks from Summit County, Crested Butte, and other locations that get snowed in during the winter months.

While this trail system is a great achievement, the local trail organization, Salida Mountain Trails, isn't content to just rest on their laurels, however. They continue to build new singletrack and expand the mountain biking opportunities in the Salida area every year!

Previous Description:

This Network of trails has a bit of everything, and there is really not much elevation gain and loss, Very Moderate.
The new North Backbone is super fun but tight with quick turns, not a super fast trail but you will use your technical skills.
Rattle Snake gets you pretty much to most of the trails, very easy trail not much gain, you might run overs some tumbleweed tho!
Burn pile is a blast to go down hill, fun swooping turns.
Tenderfoot is much more technical but still not much elevation gain.
Front side trail is a great way to descend back down to your car.
Check out for maps and other trails in and around Salida!
Rider Questions
System Trails (15)
Cr 173
North Backbone
Uncle Nazty
Lil Rattler
Sand Dunes
Burn Pile
Sgt. Pepper
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Recent Trail Check-ins
45 check-ins
on Aug 31, 2014
on Jul 18, 2014
on Jun 25, 2014
on Jun 24, 2014
on Jun 12, 2014
tlongpine on September 1, 2014
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
Review: Few trails can beats this kind of accessibilty.

The trailhead area intersects with a number of 4x4 trails, so I spend some time searching for the proper trail after crossing the tracks northeast of the parking area.

Did a jeep road-Frontside-L'il Rattler-Spiral Drive-North Backbone loop good for ~12 miles.

The morning views of the Southern Sawatch towering over Salida make this a memorable ride. If you're in the parking lot in the morning, look north towards Antero. The Chalk Cliffs are glorious in the morning sun.

Trails have great flow and something for all skill levels. Great way to start the day.

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Fit4Life28 on July 12, 2014
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
Review: Amazing trail network that always keeps you on your toes. Starting right from the edge of town you immediately climb into a vast network of fun and challenging terrain. Bring your climbing legs and grippy tires because it's sometimes steep and loose.

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justin70 on May 3, 2014
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Great trails, right next to a great town. Traction on the loose surface can be an issue, but plenty of fun to be had. Especially loved the Prospector descent.

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uber_franz on March 22, 2014
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Sweet trails right out of downtown. Doesn't get much better than this. Rideable most of the year!

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tmoney149 on April 13, 2013
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: awesome trails, with a mix of all kinds of riding. some techy stuff, a lot of flowy stuff and plenty of miles of trail to loop together. sand dunes was probably my favorite trail in the system, upper backbone was a good out and back

Similar Trail: jumbo mountain paonia, sidewinder montrose

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Greg Heil on June 17, 2012
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: This is an amazing trail system that you can access right from the town of Salida! Some trails are easier, some are more technical... some climb and/or descend a lot, some change elevation very little. But one thing is for sure: it's all good! Great trails include Frontside, North Backbone, and Unkle Nazty. Individual sections of trails that haven't been added yet because I didn't ride them: Burn Pile, Backbone, Tenderfoot, Sand Dunes, and Prospector

* Review edited 6/17/2012

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kuala_tahan on June 12, 2012
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Great network in a very cool town. Trails are well built and have very good flow. Nothing overly challenging (although I didn't ride Unkle Nazty). Did Frontside-Lil Rattler-North Backbone-Sand Dunes-Backbone-secret trail. Very very hot (desert-hot) and sunny, so better to do in the morning or late afternoon. Keeps you on your toes, as you'll be cruising along nice smooth singletrack then hit a little techie area, then keep cruising, etc. Variable terrain. Check it out, very worth riding

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stillfat on May 23, 2012
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Good mix of flowy trails and some seriously challenging technical stuff. All of it is narrow singletrack and seems to hug cliff sides, so lots of exposure for the majority of the ride.

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Tr0gd0r on August 31, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Spent a day riding here, some really enjoyable singletrack. Mostly easy to moderately difficult singletrack. The notable exception is Uncle Nazty, which has some great tech sections that are worth scoping out the first time. Lots of fun descent options (Uncle Nazty to Prospector), but the flow is really disrupted by all of the off-camber-so-loose-the-trail-dissolves-beneath-your-tires-deathrap turns, so not much speed to be had.

Similar Trail: Rainbow Trail

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Jeff Barber on August 16, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Incredible trail system with easy access from town. This is a stacked loop system meaning (essentially) the beginner trails are close in while the farther you go out, the tougher the trails get. Some machine cut stuff for families and rougher, technical trails for advanced riders. Bonus: the S Mountain side faces south so these trails are ready to ride almost year-round.

Similar Trail: Similar to some trails in the Fruita area. Also reminded me of Bootleg Canyon outside Las Vegas.

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John Fisch on August 1, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: This is a great trail network right next to town. Big kudos to all that made this happen. Check out the map as to get your bearings. The trails are well marked. The only discrepancy I found was that the "North Backbone" on the map just says "Backbone" on the marker post. Frontside and Li'l Rattler are nice and easy. Backbone is a little tougher and North Backbone has some very cool techy spots. Although it requires a pretty hateful climb to get there, the Pauli/Uncle Nazty/Prospector descent is exceptional and fully worthy of the effort required. Uncle Nazty in particular is one gnarly rock drop sequence after another--definitely expert stuff. Everything else is gravy. Overall, this network is a fantastic asset for Salida and well worth a trip for the rest of us, especially when looking for dry trails in the shoulder seasons. There are some great views across the Arkansas Valley to the 14ers beyond. This is also dry country, more like desert than mountains, so bring plenty of water.

Similar Trail: Rainbow, Monarch Crest, Little Rainbow

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John Fisch on August 1, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: This is a highly varied trail network close to town with many possible combinations for all levels of riders. There are easy, gradual, non-technical climbs and descents and full-on technical scare fests to be had. Mostly, you're cruising through dry pinion forest. The relatively low elevation and location on the east side of a major mountain range means there's more sun and less precip, giving these trails a nice long season.

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brettbonc on July 26, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Good close trails near Salida. We only did the lower half of it but found the new North Backbone trail to be slower and technical in some parts but also has good flowy track as well. Cottonwood is almost all downhill from the end of Uncle Nazty and is fast and fun close to town. Make sure to take a dip in the chilly Arkansas afterwards too!

Similar Trail: Sidewinder Trail- Boise Foothills

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mtbjones41 on July 12, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: starts with a nice steady uphill section followed by rolling single track, mixed in with technical rocky areas. great variety all in the same trail. * Review edited 7/12/2011

* Review edited 7/12/2011

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Arkansas Hills MTB Trail 4.15 out of 5 based on 14 ratings. 14 user reviews.
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Trail Features
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  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
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  • Winter Fat Biking
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