Monarch Crest Trail

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SHARES
  
AVERAGE RATING
*****
4.92 out of 5
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35
miles

Singletrack
↑ 2,100 ft
↓ 5,900 ft
11,298
elevation (ft)

Shuttle
Trail Description
About this trail
This is one of the premier shuttle rides in the state and with good reason. With over 30 miles of mostly singletrack trails and all of the best scenery Colorado has to offer, this trail is a must ride. As a shuttle ride you'll climb about 2,300 feet (much of it above 11,000 feet) and you'll descent about 6,000 feet total. The first part of the ride is above treeline and is not technical in any way. You'll top out at about 11,960 feet and then begin the first major descent down an old fire road to Marshall Pass (this is about the 10 mile mark). From here you can choose to descend down more fire road to the bottom or you can climb up the Rainbow Trail (recommended). Here you'll find some dense forest sections and some steeper climbs. Finally, head left onto the Silver Creek trail and follow this baby all the way down to a forest service road. The Silver Creek trail is pretty technical with some large scree fields, switchbacks, and some rough sections of trail. At the end of the singletrack you'll ride through a large streambed and out to the forest road. Go down a bit here until you see a sign for the Rainbow Trail. Here you can take the Rainbow Trail back to US 285 or stay on the road for a quicker descent. An awesome ride, do it if you get the chance but watch for thunderstorms and be prepared for a long day. Shuttle services are available, check the internet for more information. Trail is usually open (read: clear of snow) from July to August.
added by mudhunnySingletrack July 31, 2004
Trail Features
Trail features
  • Lift Service
  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
  • Pump Track
  • Restrooms
  • Winter Fat Biking
Directions to Trailhead
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Trail Q&A
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System Trails (1)
System Trails (1)
Silver Creek
Local Info & Nearby Trails
Trail Check-ins
Trail Check-ins
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Recent Trail Check-ins     (17 total check-ins)
  Greg Heil   on Sep 13, 2014
  co_flyer   on Aug 23, 2014
  Benjamin Chwirka   on Aug 16, 2014
  Alec Cervenka   on Aug 9, 2014
  msivertson   on Jul 28, 2014
Photo & Video Gallery (185)
Trail Photos & Videos (185)
 
Reviews (64)
 


March 26, 2015
 
Review: I was reluctant to do this trail because I was riding by myself and I didn't think it would be as fun. I made friends within the first hour of riding and we ended up riding the entire trail together. The views were incredible. Pictures do some justice but the experience is incomparable. There were several very technical parts but they were balanced out perfectly by easier trail. If you ride alone, it is easy to get very lost and put you on a 30-50 mile detour. Listen to the shuttle driver or tag along with some strangers. Everyone is there to have fun. My favorite trail in Colorado.

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September 18, 2014
 
Review: Rode the MCT with a friend for first time on Monday, Oct 15, 2014. Had a group of eight that shuttled to the top of the Crest for the start. Beautiful crisp fall day. Trail was breathtaking, literally and figuratively. The descent into Silver Creek was an adrenaline rush with rocks and drops. Rainbow at the end was a fun rolling 10 miles. Not overly technical but the last 15 minutes of Rainbow was probably the most demanding due to steepness and some drops. Just over 34 miles in five hours including stop for lunch. Gorgeous ride and well worth the effort for two guys in their sixties.

Similar Trail: As awesome as Porqupine Rim

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August 28, 2014
 
Review: One of the best rides ever! Only downside is the travel time and unpredictable weather at that elevation.

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August 9, 2014
 
Review: This is the first trail I did in Colorado and also the BEST in Colorado, I would say only 401 can kind of rival it in the state. Make no mistake though, this trail does not descend for most of the way there are several climbs at altitude but if you're in shape you should be fine; I came from Georgia and still did alright. The views are AMAZING and the descents are sweet. It's pretty smooth but it has its few technical parts. Alpine mountain biking at its best

Similar Trail: crestted butte trails

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June 9, 2014
 
Review: great trail

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April 13, 2014
 
Review: Excellent Trail...I really don't feel like writing a review right now but wanted to rate it, so this will suffice.

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March 13, 2014
 
Review: Make no mistake - this trail is advanced for a number of reasons. 1) elevation STARTS near 12,000 feet and climbs immediately. 2) length -- 30-plus miles, but most options to bail early trade mileage for technical difficulty. 3) weather -- in a normal summer, you must be back below treeline before noon to avoid being a human lightning rod...this requires a very early start and maintaining a good pace if doing the full Monarch-Rainbow combo.

That said, this trail is by far one of the best epics in the US. I've also taken the Green Creek downhill, which narrows to less than a foot with tons of rocks and roots -- great if you're on an all-mountain rig, but will be exhausting (or bloody) on an XC whip. In my opinion, the best time to go is late August/early September when the monsoons have calmed down and the early-season snows either melt quickly or haven't started yet.

Similar Trail: Most longer routes in Crested Butte; Colorado Trail

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October 26, 2013
 
Review: Loved this ride. Views are spectacular. Elevation will challenge the lungs. Link it up with the Rainbow Trail for a great loop.

Similar Trail: Top of the World, Bowman's

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September 26, 2013
 
Review: Loved this ride. Great scenery and lots of fun downhill. Took the shuttle up but next time I may try biking up to the trailhead.

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September 16, 2013
 
Review: I try to ride this trail every year. This year I will attempt in October, we will see how the weather holds. One of the nice things about the trail other than the views and Epic ride it provides is the options you have while riding. There are plenty of alternate trails and 4x4 roads to take (see Skibum's "The Other Trail" report) so if you have a mechanical or need bail early you can still have a great and fun ride.

Similar Trail: None

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Monarch Crest Trail MTB Trail 4.92 out of 5 based on 64 ratings. 64 user reviews.
Trail Conditions
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