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Tags:
Level: Advanced
Length: 20 mi (32.2 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +1,411/1 ft
Total: 120 riders
 

Mountain Biking Arkansas Hills

****   Add a review
#133 of 1,347 mountain bike trails in Colorado
#1,311 in the world

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 http://salidamountaintrails.org/ for maps and other trails in and around Salida!

First added by GimmeAraise on Jun 11, 2011. Last updated May 11, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: yes
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
Have you ridden this trail? Help improve this information.
Getting there
there are three ways to get in to the town of Salida, from Colroado 291 from Buena vista. hwy 50 from Poncha Springs and hwy 50 from canyon city. from Salida look for F street and go over the F street Bridge. the road ends and leads you in to a parking area. From there you must bike over railroad tracks. You can take the Front Side Trail or Bike up to CR 177.
System trails (18)
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Arkansas Hills Trail map

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Trail conditions

Overgrown (on Aug 10, 2019)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Salida, Colorado

**
Easiest | 3 mi
****
Beginner | 2 mi
****
Intermediate | 18 mi
*****
Advanced | 9 mi

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Reviews

  • ~Mountain Bike Addict~
    Reviewing Chicken Dinner:
    *****

    Super fun trail with plenty of tights turns, berms, small jumps, rocks, and a few tabletops. Great for all skill levels, experts will go faster and rail the berms. Still not too hard for a beginner at slow speed. I would be happy riding this trail all day, just not up.

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  • Reet_TripOutside.com
    Reviewing Cottonwood:
    *****

    This is a great ride that you can start right out of town, no shuttle needed.
    Road ride up that turns into gravel, def a tough climb but worth the workout.
    We happened to see a GIANT snake right after the trail sign said, big snake. Luckily it was non-venomous.
    Make sure you bring LOTS of water, its super dry and you can find yourself bonking if you're riding up instead of shuttling.
    There is a great little canyon that you go through about 80% of the way into the ride and it's got some nice features and drops.
    You can rent a bike online here: https://www.tripoutside.com/location/salidaco/

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  • triton189
    Reviewing Rusty Lung:
    ****

    Kind of in the similar vein as chicken dinner without the gnar up top. Lots of flowy berms, and smaller jumps. Fun singletrack!

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  • triton189
    Reviewing North Backbone:
    ****

    Really cool technical trail with some decent short punchy climbs and techy sections. Loves some of the skinny rock gulches you had to pass thru. Highly recommend this out and back trail.

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  • triton189
    Reviewing Chicken Dinner:
    ****

    Terrific flow trail with some small jumps and berms mixed in. Has a little gnar up top but nothing tough. Nice flow on this trail and a hoot to do fast.

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  • triton189
    Reviewing Backbone:
    ***

    Nice flowy ride if you combine with little rattler. Easy, fast ride right from town. Nothing too technical here but fun none the less.

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  • triton189
    Reviewing Cottonwood:
    *****

    Holy S&*% what a fun trail! I did this on a longer travel Ibis hd4 and couldn't have been happier. Great flowing berms, lots of chunk and gnar in spots and a pucker section at the "waterfall" that will test the best rider. Hard climb up the county road to get to the trail head but worth it.

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  • Greg Heil   ✓ supporter
    Reviewing Rusty Lung:
    ****

    Rusty Lung is a sweet, sweet addition to the Arkansas Hills! Having another climbing route will be superb for spreading out traffic, but of course, going downhill is more fun--and the flow, rhythm, and turns on Rusty Lung are top-notch! Some of the berms feel TIGHT, but you can really whip around them! Two thumbs up for this new trail!

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  • Jim Cummings
    Reviewing Cottonwood:
    ****

    The thing I remember - vividly! - about the Cottonwood Trail is the big rock features in the depth of the Canyon. I love that intensely technical style of riding that keeps you focused and reminds you that you're alive.

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  • Jim Cummings
    ***

    If you like rock garden action you'll love the trails in the Arkansas Hills at Salida. Rock gardens are a feature of the trails which tend to be old-school with modern touches! Most are two way and I think that holds them back - the best modern mountain trails are one-way because there is a fundamental difference between good climbing singletrack and good descending singletrack. The newest trail - Chicken Dinner - a "cross-country flow trail" is designated two way but is designed for descending and it shows.

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  • Jim Cummings
    Reviewing Chicken Dinner:
    ****

    Chicken Dinner is a flow trail that even has a little rock garden action at the top! It flows well for a lot of the way, has nice berms - but not the huge swooping kind. There are opportunities for air but no big jumps - this is an intermediate trail. The terrain is not very steep so it isn't troubled by significant braking bumps. The dirt is a bit stony and rocky so it's not all smooth but it won't shake your eyeballs either.

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  • triton189
    ****

    Only had a day to ride this system but came away really impressed and wanting to live in Salida. Trail head is right in town across the river. System contains many trails that interconnect. Tons of fun!

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  • Richard Hespen
    *****

    This is a great trail system that can be ridden from downtown Salida. It is built on "S" mountain and the surrounding area.

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  • Richard Hespen
    Reviewing Frontside:
    *****

    This trail is the gateway to the Arkansas Hills trail system. It is a great way to climb up on to "S" mountain and a great decent back to town. I would probably call it intermediate.

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  • Richard Hespen
    Reviewing North Backbone:
    *****

    Grreat trail as part of the Arkansas Hills trail system. This is a nice piece of singeltrack, and it is on the more technical side in comparison to the rest of the system.

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  • Mr Mojo Risin
    *****

    This is a great loop. Park at Absolute Bikes and north to 175. You'll stay on 175 for about 6 miles. It's a long gradual climb. We made the mistake of doing this a high noon and there was no shade, so make sure you do this a little earlier in the day or bring lots of sun screen. Once you reach the top you'll see a parking lot with trail sign for Beasway trail. This is a blue trail with lots of nice flow. Watch out for sharp rocks on the trail, they'll shred your tires. After riding down Beasway for a little under 3 miles, you'll take Rumba trail. This trail is listed as a black diamond. It has some rock gardens, tight switchbacks and some narrow, steep trail. This trail is an absolute hoot. Loved it! After about 2 miles you'll link up with Cottonwood trail which is another black diamond trail. Again tons and tons of rock and gnar. But if you follow the right line it's not bad at all, just trust your bike and don't give it too much front brake. After about 2.5 miles of Cottonwood you've got several options to get back into town, take your pick.

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