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Level: Intermediate
Length: 2 mi (3.2 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Out & Back
Elevation: +589/ -591 ft
Total: 13 riders

Mountain Biking Columbine Trail

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#441 of 1,353 mountain bike trails in Colorado
#4,363 in the world

The Columbine trail is 2.5 miles one-way, and while you can ride up and down it as a 5 mile out-and-back, it can easily be looped with the gravel road. To do so, climb the gravel road until it dead ends into the Bear Creek Trailhead on the Rainbow Trail. Take a right on the Rainbow trail, follow for several miles, and then take a right down the Columbine trail.
The Columbine Trail is brand-new as of October 2013. Salida Mountain Trails just finished it, and did a fantastic job! It appears that their main goal was to reroute a fall line social trail that had badly eroded, and some of the new Columbine trail runs along that old trail tread. However, most of the trail is brand-new with excellent grade reversals, contours, switchbacks, and a few slightly-bermed turns.
The trail itself is non-technical at the present time, but I'm sure a few rocks will erode out as the trail gets ridden in.
The trail passes through the high pine forest, but pokes out the trees on a few dry, rocky hillsides, providing some small views. The trail tread and flow changes several times as the trail descends down the mountain, so be sure to stay on your toes!

First added by Greg Heil on Oct 23, 2013. Last updated Apr 28, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
From Salida, head south on Hwy 50, and take a right onto gravel road 101. Climb up 101 to the parking lot, and you'll see the end of the Columbine trail.
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Columbine Trail Trail map

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Local Info

Trail checkins

Greg Heil (on May 10, 2018)
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Trail conditions

Good (on Oct 1, 2016)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Salida, Colorado

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

Rider questions

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  • Big Air

    Trail was blown out by epic flash flood in July. Lots of sand and rocks deposits. Route is doable when headed downhill. Nye on impossible going uphill. Better routes around S mountain near downtown Salida!

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  • zoobleweizen

    This trail is decent when in good condition. Went up there a few days ago (early July 2018) and it appears the monsoons created a flash flood event in the area of this trail. Unrideable in spots, good size drops and heavy erosion in the trail. I would give it a break until the forest service can make some repairs.

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  • woundedknee

    Meh, compared to other trails in the area I have trouble justifying visits to this trail anymore.

    You can do a loop if you travel up CR 101 and hook over to the Columbine Trail for downhill, though the downhill really isn't that good. Even after a few years of use.

    Overall, there are many better trails for biking in the Salida vicinity.

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  • farfromtheocean

    Rode it the 2 miles up from the CR 101 trailhead (at the cattle guard) to the Rainbow Trail. Did a few miles west on Rainbow, then returned the reverse route. Columbine going up is fully rideable and really fun, although the combination of relentless uphill and altitude had my lungs working pretty hard. Minor obstacles and turns keep it really interesting. Coming down was a total blast. You gotta pay attention though because the combo of loose conditions, some narrow side hill riding and lots of directional changes allows for a few surprises. All good ones though. The whole trail was dry and a bit loose, but totally expected in this part of Colorado. Reminded me a bit of Georgia Pass. Highly recommended ride.

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  • Benjamin Googins

    Great trail and loop. I have ridden it 5 times so far. I park up Bear Creek at the trailhead to Columbine, ride up Bear Creek road (double track/4wd) to the Rainbow Trail and take a right (west/northwest), ride 3 miles (could be a little longer, not sure) to the Columbine Trail and descend a couple miles back to car at trailhead. The only reason I didn't give it a 5 is that there are other trails in the area, like Monarch Crest Trail, that I rate as 5. But this ride is different than Crest and better for a 1.-2 hour afternoon ride, which I tend to do more of than long rides like Crest. For that reason I would give it a 5. Great climb, fun fairly level Rainbow Trail section, and then a nice descent down Columbine equals awesome ride. Do it.

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  • Greg Heil   ✓ supporter

    This trail is brand-new, and I think as it gets ridden it, it will turn into a very good trail. As it is, Columbine is already super fun, and is a fast descent (but stay watchful for switchbacks). However, while I definitely recommend this trail, compared to other 5-star trails in the area (Monarch Crest, Etc.) it doesn't measure up. That's not to say this isn't a great trail--I for one plan to ride it again very soon!

    Also, I had a guy at the trailhead tell me that this was kind of supposed to be a "directional" trail. That had me thinking that this trail would have some jumps, drops, and tech, or at least rock gardens and a few berms on the way back down. However, this is really just smooth XC singletrack, with switchbacks for most of the turns. The only thing that makes this trail better going down is that it's a pretty consistent grade. Sure, it would be a tough climb aerobically because it gains a lot of elevation pretty quickly, but there's no real reason that you COULDN'T or SHOULDN'T climb up this trail. Next time I'm out here, I plan to use this as a climb.

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