Monarch Crest Trail

Actions Embed
More photos »
35
miles

Advanced

Singletrack
↑ 2,100 ft
↓ 5,900 ft
11,298
elevation (ft)
6.6
avg mph
301
ridden
316
wishlist
4:30
avg time

Shuttle
AVERAGE RATING
4.92 out of 5
About This Trail
added by mudhunny Singletrack on July 31, 2004
actions now above photo
 
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.
Rider Questions
 
System Trails (1)
Silver Creek
Get Local
Trail Activity
what's this?
 
Recent Trail Check-ins
17 check-ins
 
on Sep 13, 2014
on Aug 23, 2014
on Aug 16, 2014
on Aug 9, 2014
on Jul 28, 2014
 
randoon on September 18, 2014
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
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

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
gfabes on August 28, 2014
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: One of the best rides ever! Only downside is the travel time and unpredictable weather at that elevation.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
GTechRacer on August 9, 2014
0 out of 1 readers found this useful
 
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

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
rawrpancakes on June 9, 2014
0 out of 1 readers found this useful
 
Review: great trail

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
Skoofer on April 13, 2014
0 out of 2 readers found this useful
 
Review: Excellent Trail...I really don't feel like writing a review right now but wanted to rate it, so this will suffice.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
Stabone33 on March 13, 2014
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
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

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
willisontheflyski on October 26, 2013
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
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

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
LiveLarge on September 26, 2013
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
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.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
Kungfurider on September 16, 2013
0 out of 1 readers found this useful
 
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

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
tlongpine on August 22, 2013
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Great above treeline ride that starts with a fun ascent that will test your acclimatization.

If you're in Salida at the right time of year this is a must ride.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
7ofClubs on August 12, 2013
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: An awesome trail and a must in my book. A lot of up and down until you hit Silver Creek. It was a little more climbing than I anticipated. The altitude peaked at just under than 12,100 feet and you feel every bit of it. The views are unreal and worth every second of climbing but be prepared.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
7ofClubs on August 12, 2013
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: An awesome trail and a must in my book. A lot of up and down until you hit Silver Creek. It was a little more climbing than I anticipated. The altitude peaked at just under than 12,100 feet and you feel every bit of it. The views are unreal and worth every second of climbing but be prepared.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
Gdb49 on August 4, 2013
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
 
Review: Wasn't sure how much of the 5 stars would be based on its pure beauty, but was pleased to find that the trail would rate pretty high on its own. The trail alone would 3-4 stars, when you add the amazing views and scenary and epicness of the trail, it is a clear 5 star trail. Will try to ride this once each season. Certainly a must ride!

Similar Trail: ?

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
Greg Heil on July 30, 2013
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: It has been five years since I last (and first) rode the Monarch Crest, and while I remembered that the views and the trail were both superb, time had definitely dulled my recollection of this trail.

After finally getting to ride the Crest again today, I have to say that this trail is fricking fantastic! The views from the Crest are truly phenomenal--there aren't many places where you can legally ride your mountain bike above tree line for miles and miles.
Then, when the descent hits, it's all about the adrenaline! Silver Creek is a killer descent with plenty of rocks and gnar to keep things interesting.
Bottom line: Monarch Crest has it going on! Incredible views and amazing singletrack, there's not much more you can ask for!

Similar Trail: The Whole Enchilada, Trail 401

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
jmill2013 on July 21, 2013
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Starts straight up out of the parking lot so make a couple of quick laps to get those legs moving. Get an early start to avoid CO afternoon weather. BRING a map or be with someone who knows the trail. There are plenty of turns to be made. Views are amazing. Marmots are everywhere. Long sustained climbs. Short suffering climbs (some only miles from the end so save some juice). Creek crossings. Rocks and roots. MY NEE FARVORITE TRAIL. It beat out Porcupine and 401.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
zr140th on September 3, 2012
3 out of 3 readers found this useful
 
Review: By far the best riding I've ever done!!! This trail is truly an Epic, a must-ride if you are close to CO. Rode with a great group today, bike survived with only a few knicks, great weather and temps, fantastic views! Couple of points: 1) Carry enough food/water for an all day ride. 2) Make sure your bike kit is solid -- trail can dish it out! 3) Bring a camera and rain gear 4) A map helps at certain cross-roads. If you take the Rainbow Trail, and I suggest it, be prepared for some techy downhill that can turn immediately into some steep uphill. Got caught with my seat dropped too low a number of times. Again, best trail I've ridden thus far! Rating it a Blue but be prepared for a little Diamond.

Similar Trail: Colorado Trail (1776)

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
tcbroncs on September 3, 2012
2 out of 2 readers found this useful
 
Review: Just rode this over Labor Day weekend. Definitely lives up to it's rating. According to my Cyclemeter app on my iPhone, from the top where we shuttled to and back to the car at the bottom is 34.33 miles. This is if you do the classic ride which is Monarch Crest to CDT to Silvercreek to Rainbow to 285. The total ascent is 3466 feet (about half on Monarch Crest and half on Rainbow) and the descent is 7357 feet total. We stopped a lot and it took us 6 hours. Great ride!

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
kuala_tahan on August 22, 2012
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
 
Review: Can't add a whole lot more to the review. One of the best trails I've ever ridden, up there with Porcupine and Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadman. Big ride (34ish miles), largely on varying and epic singletrack - high mountain smooth, through-the-trees bomber, down scree fields, in and out of drainages. All fast, all fun. Highly, highly recommended trail. Be ready for a fair amount of climbing too, the shuttle doesn't mitigate all climbing by any means. When you get to Rainbow Trail, take it - great trail, definitely some steep pitch climbing, but phenomenal singletrack. And hope your derailleur doesn't break 7 miles into it to be forced to ride with only 2 gears the rest of the trail...

Similar Trail: Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadman

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
delphinide on August 22, 2012
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Rode this yesterday with a friend from Florida. The trails are in excellent shape and the Silver Creek and Rainbow trails are gorgeous. Felt just a few drops of rain in the late afternoon, but otherwise perfect despite a few ominous clouds threatening most of the day. Highly recommend High Valley Shuttle and the $12 map they sell with photos of all of the major trail intersections. ALL 35 miles are between 8000-12000 feet, so take breaks and bring lots of water. I recommend at least 130 oz, and it would be a great idea to bring a SteriPen to refill at the bottom of Silver Creek if you don't want to haul 20 lbs of water on you. First clean water is about 17 miles in. Look to burn around 5500 calories over 6-8 hours, so bring as much food as you can. The downhill at Silver Creek is wicked fast, but watch for goatheads. It is an Epic Ride. The trail won't be open much longer...

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
vbeckman74 on August 18, 2012
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: "This is a lot of uphill for a downhill." Don't think you'll just point 'em south and bomb. You'll spend equal time climbing and descending. Be prepared. It's a beautiful ass kicker. The guys at High Valley Shuttle are outstanding and cheap. Great IMBA Epic ride.

Similar Trail: Parts of the Colorado Trail

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
James_Bright on August 11, 2012
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Simply badass alpine riding with crazy views and a long descent through multiple ecosystems.

Similar Trail: 401 Trail in Crested Butte

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
arnolda14 on July 20, 2012
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: WOW. Yeah, this thing is sick. Ride it if you can. I didn't get a pinch flat myself, but I agree with the previous dude, this trail is perfect pinch flat conditions. I didn't heed the advice to take the early shuttle because we were in a big drought. But yeah, I got totally rained on and then did an epic downhill on wet shale-ish, oily mud. In dry conditions, it would have been a beautiful sweep of candy track, but in the mud, not so much, not to mention that I probably left a few scars on the trail, which is totally uncool. Nonetheless, this is definitely worthy of its epic rating. It is a must-ride. As for the technical difficulty, it is hard to call because there are a few hike-a-bike sections for sure. Technically, I'll say it's a blue/black with the caveat that if you take the rainbow option, you are still climbing up loose baby-heads at mile 27. Stuff that you sail over at mile 5 can seem brutal at mile 27. Because of that, I'll rate the trail black but if you're a intermediate rider who is wondering if this is within your grade, I would say definitely go for it. Bring as many power bars as you can safely carry and go for it.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
sarion on July 8, 2012
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Truly grand! This was only my third ride EVER and while there are some pretty technical portions, if you're fit, stubborn, and adventurous, even beginners will manage. The scenery is fantastic...truly beyond words at times. Bring a camera and take lots of photo stops! If you start from Monarch Pass, 75% of the climbing (and I do mean CLIMBING...some will hike-a-bike) is at the start so you get it out of the way and then you get to do some sweet (however technical) descents. Do NOT miss out on this ride!!! Even if you're not a hardcore biker, this ride is worth the effort and the time! It is truly a once in a lifetime experience. THINGS TO NOTE: The altitude is a KILLER. You'll be above 11,000 feet for most of the ride and doing a lot of climbing. Take breaks as needed! Go EARLY and beat the shuttles! This trail is a huge attraction for locals and tourists alike so it tends to be crowded, especially during the summer months. There are no offshoots or anything to get you back to town once you get going, so bring tools and plenty of water. SUNBLOCK is an absolute MUST. Also, this area is famous for its afternoon thundershowers. Go early so you don't get caught above treeline with a lightning storm raging around you!

* Review edited 7/8/2012

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
Guest on June 27, 2012
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Wow. the scenery is unreal! A bit more climbing than I expected but not too much at all

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
stumpyfsr on November 16, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: A must ride trail for every biker. Rode this trail at the end of September and love it. It's not the most technical trail, but due to altitude and distance I'd give it a black diamond. Scenery is breathtaking, climbs are longest I've ever done before, and downhill was fun. Especially I liked Silver Creek and Rainbow. This is a true Epic trail I recommend for everyone.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
medicdave on October 10, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Rode this trail in Early October, after the region's first high-elevation snowfalls. With cold temps, high winds and snow in the mix, this trail becomes *extremely* challenging! Do not attempt alone, and be prepared with enough water, food, tools and parts to get you off the mountain. Our trip took over 7 hours - though much of the trail would be rideable during July-September, we spent a significant amount of time hiking our bikes. After departing the Monarch Pass trailhead, the trail is composed of great, varied-terrain singletrack. Even with some snow, it is very rideable - but this changes quickly once it emerges above tree-line. If snow has fallen or is forecast, avoid this section of the trail and stick to the Silver Creek trail from Marshall Pass. Silver Creek, even in October, was fun and challenging. Technical sections of obstacle-strewn downhill open into sweeping glassy single-track, big and fast enough to let you challenge yourself and your gear.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
GimmeAraise on September 14, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: coming in to riding the Famous Monarch Crest Trail i thought it would be more technical and more uphill. In no way did that disappoint me, sure i love climbing but this trail really hit the spot even without it. The views were breathtaking, and the single track was perfect. The downhill was the best part with perfect little drops and rock gardens. just a never ending playground that was just right!

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
tlongpine on September 12, 2011
0 out of 1 readers found this useful
 
Review: Because of it's altitude it's only open a few months a year in the late summer. It has it all. This was among the most memorable and fun days I've spent on a bike.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
TJ_CRASH on September 8, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: This was my first big ride. Since March, I've been riding 17-20 miles on Mon-Fri commuting to work in Golden, CO & thought I was ready for this one. Hit the trail at 7:30 on 9/3/11, barely beating the shuttle crowd. Rode most of the hills & cleaned a few sections I wasn't sure I could get up. I had one pinch flat on a fire road whoop. Newbie co-rider walked much of the uphill sections so I'd pedal up & wait for him at the top. We couldn't stop smiling even after a rock removed his derailleur towards the end. The one tool we didn't bring was a chain breaker. After coasting to the plank bridge, met some helpful guys that had my buddy in SS mode in no time. Coming down the blacktop, we were already discussing coming back. Better have your lungs for this one! Altitude is a beast! Nothing too technical, but try to keep your eyes on the trail while the incredible scenery goes by because a misplaced tire on some of the downhill sections may lead to some pain as there's boulders, trees & cactus along much of the trail. * Review edited 9/8/2011

* Review edited 9/8/2011

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
davefourtwenty on August 30, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: This is an all day ride that offers some great views of the continental divide. You need to be in shape in order to tackle this trail because of it's length. Other than endurance there is absolutely nothing difficult about this ride. The trail, while long, is pretty easy with only a couple of steep climbs. There is pretty much zero technical riding on the trail with the exception of a small portion of Silver Creek. There are some confusing intersections that don't clearly mark which way to go but there are always masses of people riding this so you shouldn't have trouble finding someone to ask which way to go.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
jeff on August 16, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: I just rode this trail for the second time this year (the first was in 2004) and did added the Rainbow Trail at the end. What a blast! While the Rainbow Trail adds a bit more climbing at the end it's well worth it and is pretty different from the stuff you'll see on Monarch Crest and even the Silver Creek trail. Still every bit the "must ride" it's always been!

Similar Trail: Colorado Trail (Kenosha to Breck)

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
ivanjunge on August 8, 2011
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
 
Review: I don't know whether to rate this Extremely Difficult or not. It occurred that way to me but there are no huge rock drops like Moab or anything. It's just a big trail at very high elevation. I've never done anything like it. The uphills are killer... and we were passed by many uber-athletes that made it look easy. The views are breathtaking. You feel like you're on top of the world looking out over the mountains. The weather worked out well for us but I could see a high risk of lightning danger if you don't get any early start. We did the 8am shuttle, which is what I'd recommend. I did run out of water. There's a creek one the way down so you might want to bring a water filer or tablets. When we hit the rest rooms (Marshall Pass Rd., I think) we needed to get our bearings. We had to hang a right there which I wasn't expecting. Bombing down scree field single track was challenging and I could easily see tire or tube damage happening although we lucked out. We had three riders on three different bike set-ups: A hard-tail, low-travel full-suspension, and large-travel full-suspension. You can do it with any of those. Cruising down the highway at the end to get back to Poncha Springs is a fun way to end the trip. And the gas station at the parking lot has a bar in it. If you're considering this trail, go for it! It will challenge you.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
brettbonc on July 26, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Beautiful trail with a lot of different types of biking in a lot of different environments. Some really good climbs out of the treeline, gradual cruising above the treeline, great vistas, singletrack through aspen forests, some rocky descents, and even riding through a creek if you exit by way of Silver Creek Trail. Definitely the most epic biking I've done! Like already been said, take your time and enjoy an epic ride. You are going to be tired.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
pherod on July 26, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Probably the best overall mtn bike experience i've had. Not the best in all aspects but the best overall. a definite must for anyone who claims to love mountain biking.

* Review edited 7/26/2011

Similar Trail: heaven.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
pherod on July 26, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Probably the best overall mtn bike experience i've had. Not the best in all aspects but the best overall. a definite must for anyone who claims to love mountain biking.

Similar Trail: heaven.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
abegold on May 24, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Epic views, scree fields, rushing streams beaver dams. An all time favorite but you'd better be ready for the altitude. Don't be in a hurry, enjoy the amazing views. The ending on the highway is a bit of a drag but it goes fast.

Similar Trail: Engineer Mountain, Colorado Trail, Kaibab Trail

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
rharper33 on March 26, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: This was an OUTSTANDING ride, truly epic!!!

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
maddslacker on March 15, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: This is hands down my favorite trail in Colorado! As has already been mentioned, it works best as a shuttle. You can leave a vehicle at the visitor center in Poncha Springs and drive to the trailhead. It's an easy downhill ride from the end of the trail to your drop vehicle. The trail starts out with a climb from Monarch Pass to the Continental Divide at around 12,000 ft elevation. It wouldn't normally bee too bad, but the elevation definitely plays a part. After riding along the crest a bit, it goes mostly downhill for the next 25 miles or so. There are some technical sections, but it is 100% ridable. If you have enough energy, make sure to tack on Rainbow Trail for even more singletrack. Either way, when you get to Hwy 285, turn left and go WHEEEEEEEEEE all the way back to your drop car.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
jeff on March 11, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: It's been several years since I've ridden Monarch Crest but I just realized I hadn't reviewed it yet! This is a classic high altitude mountain bike ride with oxygen deprived climbs, incredible views, and skinny singletrack. Most people do this one as a shuttle and with good reason - you'll want to take your time going down to soak in the scenery and terrain. From above the treeline meadows to wet, dense forests you'll see it all. There are even several rocky scree fields to cross for those looking for a little technical challenge. Highly recommended!

Similar Trail: Colorado Trail has similar sections as does the area around Crested Butte.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
grandlakejames on December 18, 2010
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Rode this trail last August and WOW was it awesome. The trail starts out with a steady climb but once your above tree-line it's all forgotten. Take your time and enjoy the view, this section of trail goes by to quick. The silver creek trail is a rocky trail and pretty technical but a worthwhile ride. You drop into a remote drainage and you follow the creek the entire way. If you are not to spent, make sure to ride the rainbow trail, it has wonderful narrow single-track, the only downside is the climbs out of the drainages and that is only because I was so tried. Make sure to take plenty of water and snacks, it is a tiring trail. We drove to the top of the pass and then hitchhiked back to the car. If you have a chance to ride at 7:00am I would recommend it to avoid the shuttle crowd.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
pdinsurance on September 4, 2010
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Super epic ride, Greatest trail ever, Should be #1

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
Hunyuk on August 25, 2010
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Rode the Crest August 21st, beautiful weather. Actually started our ride at 7am to avoid the crowds. Very glad we did, we only saw two other riders that day and when we got back to Poncha Springs the shuttle lot was full and at Monarch Pass that lot was full too. This was my first time on the Crest, it's absolutely amazing. I live at 8000 feet, and the climbs were still pretty brutal, but the scenery and fantastic single track made it all worth it. Descended Poncha Creek Road which was a lot more rough than we expected, got one pinch flat on that section. Hope to try the Silver Creek descent in the future. This is a must ride for any mountain bike enthusiast in the area!

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
highcophoto on August 16, 2010
0 out of 1 readers found this useful
 
Review: classic colorado great views of several different mountain ranges first few miles are a good climb at altitude but well worth the effort for the miles of single track descent if you haven't had enough on the highway down at mile marker 124 cross the road to find a great little piece of old railroad grade above the highway all the way to the bottom of the pass. if you have been on the crest trail on the weekends since the 4th of july we probably took photos of you which can be seen at highcophoto.com if you are planning on riding we are out there 8 to about 1 weather permitting thursday thru sunday and holidays. have a great ride.

* Review edited 8/16/2010

Similar Trail: fruita area is great

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
AboveTheRidge on August 15, 2010
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Rode this on 8/10, amazing! Caught the shuttle at Sinclair gas station to begin the day. Climbed up to 12K after getting off shuttle and starting ride. Was somewhat windy, but totally independent of the weather and had some great climbs and some outstanding downhill. What a great ride, highly recommended!

* Review edited 8/15/2010

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
JohnsXCbike on July 31, 2010
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
 
Review: Just did this 7/30/2010, Amazing ride! Call ahead to check on weather, I did the 8am shuttle, any later and would have been caught in heavy rain. I took the Rainbow Trail route with a few other riders, its 34.5 miles that way(5.5 hours with several breaks), somewhere around 3880 feet of climbing, and 7300 feet descending according to the nice map we got at the High Valley shuttle place. I'm use to riding high-elevation trails, but if your not the altitude will make this much more difficult, the challenge for me was pushing the uphills, I did fine until the last few climbs, legs where just dead by then. Ran out of water after about 25 miles, got a whole in my tire sidewall(plenty of sharp rocks in some areas), was able to finish the ride but will have to replace that tire now. One girl on another group fell and broke her collarbone! This trail should be rated at least a black. There are fairly steep descents, loose gravel, loose rocks, scree fields, huge mud puddles, mud, pools of water, wet rocks, roots, wet roots, stream crossings. All kinds of different terrain you and your bike need to be prepared to take on. Very much worth it, I just gotta remember to bring extra water and an extra tire next time! Oh and the High Valley Shuttle people might be taking pictures of you, you may have to go to the gas station next door to find out where to get them.

* Review edited 7/31/2010

Similar Trail: nothing compares so far..

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
JohnsXCbike on July 31, 2010
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review:

* Review edited 7/31/2010

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
reed7970 on July 28, 2010
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Absolutely one of my favorite rides ever. Definitely not for those with weak lungs as there is some considerable high altitude climbing in the first few miles. If you can make it through that you'll be good. The downhill section in the middle is fantastic and nothing terribly technical. Doing the Rainbow Trail definitely adds a bit of a challenge as you've already ridden almost 20 miles when you get to it. Rainbow trail is basically like interval training with some quick uphill sprints and some nice downhill rollers. Nothing terribly technical here except for a real rocky climb towards the end, but it is pretty exhausting. Plan on bringing a lot of water, especially if its a hot day, and some snacks to refuel.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
dplusdude on May 15, 2010
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: This trail is freaking SICK! There's tons of great terrain, fun descents, flowing singletrack, challenging climbs. This trail is one of the best in the country. Take lunch, take lots of water and take a couple extra tubes, because this trail is pinch flat central. Not for beginners or s***ty bikes. The rating on this trail should be one step up.

Similar Trail: Porcupine Rim Trail

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
Centurion on October 13, 2009
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Excellent views and awesome singletrack. This definitely is, in my opinion, more difficult than the blue rating. The altitude is what gets you. Make sure to acclimate before trying to ride this. At sea-level I would agree with the blue, but with the altitude I am thinking more of a black diamond.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
sblackwell on August 6, 2009
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Holly cow this is the mecha of MTB. My husband and I rode it last weekend and we still can't quit day dreaming of it. The up hills are tough and the air is thin but it's worth it for the beautiful senery and awsome downhills. This trail has it all hard up hills, fast down hills, different rocks, plenty of places to bunny hop and not to mention riding down the middle of a stream. Of course what better way to end a great ride (besides beer abd pizza) is an over nighter at a nearby hot springs.

Similar Trail: This one is hard to top!

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
steve32300 on October 5, 2008
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: I would have to say the trail rating system needs to factor in altitude because me being a clydesdale,the altitude made me feel like goin home a couple of time's.Although once we got over the top so to speak,it was all down hill from there.We both had altitude sickness and opted for the bail out route down the camping road.That's what I like sooo much about monarch though was the fact that we took a bail out route and still had a fantastic time riding down hill in the rain for what seemed like 2 hours.Weeeeeee,hahaha.Splashing through water puddles and wet rock's aside though,the ride itself is some real backcountry fairy tale land for sure,whats that song by the who,,,,,oh yeah,,,,I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles. I'll give the fair warning to first timer's on this trail,prehydrate and make sure you eat good the day before,it'll help stave off the altitude sickness and make for a much more comfortable ride.

Similar Trail: If you can find a rainbow,jump on it a ride it till you start feeling guilty for having too much fun,hahahaha.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
Guest on October 5, 2008
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Alright, I am throwing a flag on the rating system on this entire site. Not sure if it is based on user averages or there is some mastermind in an IT office but here's the deal. Any ride in excess of 30 miles by default is not intermediate! Especially at elevation. Yes, the trail is not too challenging for experienced riders (I do this in about 3 hours) but dude c'mon! If you looked at this site being relatively new and said "oh hey, Monarch Crest is just a blue...I'm a blue let's go" you'd be f'd. Anyway that's it. This ride is great. Very little technical. Amazing views and is actually closer to 40 miles. I guess you can get out around 30 but I am not sure where. I would add at least half a difficulty rating to any thing in here if you are a begginner or novice looking for advice. And of course read the actual reviews but the system is a little jenky. I guess the upside is that after slogging through a bunch of underrated rides you'll be a hammer head :) late

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
biff on September 9, 2008
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: I've riden all over the state of Colorado and this is my second favorite ride [even over Hermosa Creek near Durango].

Similar Trail: Hermosa Creek near Duranog

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
Greg Heil on September 3, 2008
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: An INTENSE ride! If you are in the area, and have never ridden the Monarch Crest trail before, you have a new goal in life! Get here and ride this trail.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
SSSORT on August 7, 2008
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: The Monarch was closed due to snow in late June, so I opted for the Rainbow Trail off Rte. 285. A nine mile ride from the trail head to pavement. I ride in the Southeast and was very impressed. This trail has it all... climbs, rocks, singletrack, downhill, stream crossing. Stop and enjoy the ride. Took about four hours.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
Beaker on April 8, 2008
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: One of those rides that you will never forget! This is a challenging all day affair that will leave you tired and begging for more. The first 1/2 is some flat singletrack and a bit of high altitude climbing. The last 1/2 is what you came for! Virtually all downhill for the last 15 miles or so! DO THIS RIDE!

Similar Trail: Porcupine Rim/Hazzard Co.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
John Fisch on October 10, 2007
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: This is THE Mac Daddy. Epic, high alpine, maxing out the adventure scale. The shuttle from Poncha Springs is a bargain for what it gives you. There's a whole lot more downhill than up, but at 11,000 feet, it still takes solid effort. This will take you a long time to complete and the thunderstorms kick up around lunchtime almost every day, so start early. Bring more food than you think you'll need. Get the Monarch Crest map as it will prevent you from missiing an important turn--it actually has photos corresponding to all trail junctions. Although it makes for a long day, I highly recommend the Rainbow Trail segment back to Highway 285. Yes, it involves doing some uphills after you're fatigued, but the trail is really a roller coaster, so the uphills aren't long. There is really sweet singletrack here with some great views. I wasn't very fit when I did it and still survived. Bottom line, this ride should be on every MTBers short list of must-dos.

Similar Trail: Nothing compares to this!

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
RideorDie on June 4, 2007
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: This is truly a great ride. Show up rested and bring a camera. We did the Rainbow Trail at the end thinking "great more down hill" - WRONG! I don't recommend it unless you are in shape. The up-hill is gnarly in a few spots and most of your downhill with be on pavement at the end (I hate that!). I will definitely make this an annual event in mid to late summer. This ride has some of the nicest singletrack in the country on parts of it. Take the shuttle!

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
BobinConifer on May 13, 2007
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Monarch Crest-- what a ride. How many rides have there own website? Well, at least the shuttle service does at www.monarchcrest.com This ride is great with long stretches of rolling, smooth single track- much of which is above tree line. Really, the ride can't be rated too difficult since it has an enormous elevation loss along the ride, so it really is mostly downhill. But it is a great ride nontheless. Unless you bonk or otherwise like riding dirt roads, you pretty much have to take the Rainbow trail which adds a few more miles of fun singletrack through the woods and a nice meadow climb before a great decent onto pavement. The road back to Ponch Spings is all downhill pavement. A little drafting and you'll be back at the shack in no time.

Similar Trail: Agate Creek

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
dirtcoach on December 4, 2005
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Being my first review on this site why not start with one of my favorites. The ride has just about everything I like great views, climbs that can be tough due to the altitude, flowing single track, some rocks though I wish there was some big jumps and hucks on the way though the last ride a downed tree in Agate Creek made a good jump. I have done this ride Early Summer to late Fall though I have been rained on, snowed on sometimes very heavy so it is not recommended during this time of year, but always a good idea to be prepared with food and rain gear. The best time to ride is in late Summer, but it can get really warm towards the end if you started late. I usually do the shuttle trip Crest & Rainbow Trail Route 3 to 3.5 hours also with others around 4 hours. Definitely bring a camera

Similar Trail: Nothing else really like it, but Kenosha Pass is close

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
bonkedagain on August 2, 2005
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: Definitely one of my favorite rides. You can get most of the grunting out of the way with the uphill at the start. After that is a great ride along the continental divide. Wonderful views, fun trail. Just get an early start (be on the trail before 9:00) so that you aren't on the top of the ridge when the typical summer thuderstorms start rolling in. When you get to the Silver Creek trail you can dive in for a fast and furious downhill on narrow singletrack, across scree fields, with some tree dodging. If you still have energy left continue on the Rainbow Trail, otherwise take the road. There is a pretty good bit of pedaling involved to finish the day on the Rainbow Trail so you want to be in decent shape if you choose that route. Hardcores continue on to Salida after crossing the highway. Inquire in Poncha Springs if you want to buy a shuttle ride to the top. Trust me, you will not ride your bike back up Monarch Pass. Another variant is to ride to the top of Fooses Creek and then take the Colorado Trail north to, say, Browns Creek or Chalk Creek. You will be tired, but it is a great ride.* Review edited 4/9/2007

* Review edited 4/9/2007

Similar Trail: Colorado Trail - Kenosha Pass to Breckenridge

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
warrubi on July 13, 2005
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: The climbs s*** due to the altitude, however they are not that long and you are able to recover rapidly and cruise the flat sections. Great views on a great ride. This is a good ride for all levels. The asphalt ride back to the cars at Poncha springs is fun.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
carbon_bars on July 10, 2005
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
 
Review: this is the most fun single track around. great views!! and just all around fun single track. the only tuff part is the rock slide portion and the elevation. this is a must ride for everyone no mater what your ability level

Similar Trail: there is no trail quite like this!!!

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
 
Guest on January 9, 2014
0 out of 2 readers found this useful
 
Review: Is this rated advanced because of the trail length and elevation? Because based on the photos, it doesn't look remotely technical.

I find the difficulty rating system in the US of A to be very cautious. This would be a green single track in BC.

it still looks amazing. But I wouldn't rate this as difficult.
Was this Review helpful? Yes | No
Monarch Crest Trail MTB Trail 4.92 out of 5 based on 63 ratings. 63 user reviews.
Get Directions
loading...
Create a free Singletracks account to get directions to this trail.

Crested Butte - Aspen - Gunnison Topo Map
$11.95

Buy Now

 
Trail Features
 
  • Lift Service
  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
  • Pump Track
  • Restrooms
  • Winter Fat Biking
Trail Conditions
< / > embed
 
Loading...
Feature Article
Returning to the Monarch Crest after a 5-Year Absence: Why Did I Ever Leave?
  # Shares
  # Comments