Monarch Crest Trail

4.88 out of 5
View Topo Map


↑ 2,600 ft
↓ 6,800 ft
elevation (ft)

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 Guest
Trail Features
Trail features
  • Lift Service
  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
  • Pump Track
  • Restrooms
  • Winter Fat Biking
Directions to Trailhead
Get Directions
Create a free Singletracks account to get directions to this trail.

Trail Q&A
Rider Questions


Q: Current conditions -Guest

A: Good but cold on September 15, 2017

Jim Cummings answered on September 15, 2017. Did you find this helpful? Yes | No




Q: is this doable in June? -Peter Chapman

A: Most likely there'll still be 10 (or more) feet of snow up there in June. Generally, trail is getting close to dry by July 4th, but there are still usually some big snowy sections even in early July.

Greg Heil answered on January 18, 2017. Did you find this helpful? Yes | No


Please login or create an account to ask a question.
Recommended Trails
Recommended Trails
Porcupine Rim
Buffalo Creek
Trail 401
Local Info & Nearby Trails
Trail Check-ins
Trail Check-ins
what's this?
Recent Trail Check-ins     (88 total check-ins)
  Jon_Gotow   on Sep 28, 2019
  rcflyingvb   on Sep 14, 2019
  Greg Heil   on Sep 4, 2019
  barberja   on Sep 1, 2019
  ~Mountain Bike Addict~   on Aug 31, 2019
Photo & Video Gallery (375)
Trail Photos & Videos (375)
Reviews (87)


August 22, 2018
Review: One of the best rides in the country, you want to make sure it's not snow covered when you ride it. You can arrange a shuttle from one of the local bike shops, you can find a rental shop online at for this area as well.


August 19, 2018
Review: Beautiful views, thin air. As someone that lives at 700' above sea level, we rode the crest on our 2nd day in Colorado. It was fun but would have been better had we acclimated a few extra days first. The downhill to Marshall Pass is a blast. We rode back to town on the old D&RGW rail bed. It was an easy cruise with beautiful views. Highly recommended.

Granny Gear

August 12, 2018
gwelk Granny Gear  
Review: Second ride here and loved the variety and obviously the views. Hard to beat for an epic mountain bike destination ride.

Granny Gear

April 1, 2018
Bradford Granny Gear  
Review: Big, all day ride with great views

Granny Gear

September 24, 2017
Geeeale Granny Gear  
Review: Waste of money. This is NOT a total descent. It's a cross country trail. If you're expecting an epic 30 miles of descent, aka Heaven, be prepared to be disappointed.
The most "enjoyable" part was riding into a storm which forced us to hustle to lower ground. We ended up riding directly into a lightning storm with the typical colorado hail, downpour, and cold temps.
The views were good but nothing we hadn't seen before. Admittedly we rode south to Salida on the Colorado Trail. The view from Georgia pass is breath taking. Views from monarch are 'meh'.
It's a tourist thing to do and people seem to love it. Why they love it I have no idea.
You'll want to have full suspension otherwise it'll be unpleasant.
The most enjoyable descents were fire road. Many single track descents have developed a washboard characteristic before the switchbacks.


Granny Gear

September 16, 2018
Wheywhey Granny Gear  
Review: Dude you suck

World Champ

September 18, 2017
Review: After riding along the crest you have to choose one of several trails to descend back down to civilisation. We went down Starvation Creek and ended up on hwy 285 which we took back towards Salida. There are several other options but that one was excellent - not too extreme or long at 30 miles and lots of variety. The ride along the crest undulates and has some rock garden action but is generally mellow. The views are stupendous. The descent which required advanced riding skills included everything from fast dirt trail through forest to chunky scree..


March 26, 2017
SEANO Gramcounter  
Review: A classic!


October 12, 2016
Review: One of the all time classics! Its just has some of the best high altitude riding you will ever do. Riding above treeline to screaming flowing descents. What more could you ask for!


August 28, 2016
jkey6 Gnarly  
Review: Don't be fooled by the specs of this ride. It feels a lot tougher than 2,000 ft of climbing on other trails. I do a ton of riding on the front range on trails with more vert but I was definitely feeling it in this one. Great views, nice flowy singletrack, and awesome dirt. Highly recommended but be prepared! Know which trails you are supposed to take ahead of time because "monarch crest" is not a label you will see anywhere.

Granny Gear

July 2, 2016
thechez Granny Gear  
Review: Definitely allow yourself to acclimate to the surrounding area before hitting this one! An arduous long climb brings you to some amazing views of all the surrounding area and bevy of fourteeners that surround this spot. Hardcore locals might just ride up Monarch Pass to the trailhead but most shuttle. It's got a little technicality to it but nothing for your enduro bike. Once you're up top there's a myriad of trails for your choosing. You really have a menu of trails to choose your own adventure back down to town.

The trail climbs through several variances in the biome of the area and allows for challenge in your climbing skills. Once up top you're back in the traditional dry Colorado forest. No doubt you'll come across some of the local bikers training on their preferred routes. Don't forget to link up with the Rainbow trail for some swoopy fun action on the way down! Finish up with a beer at Subculture and enjoy the town.

Similar Trail: Ape Canyon/Plains of Abraham

Trail Conditions
Trail Conditions          < / > embed
Feature Article
10 Best Mountain Bike Trails in the San Isabel National Forest
Five2Ride: 5 of the Best Mountain Bike Trails in Colorado
The 10 Best MTB Shuttle Routes in the Western US