Rainbow Trail: Westcliffe

3.09 out of 5
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elevation (ft)

Out & Back
Trail Description
About this trail
This trail is pretty lame. When I read the description in the MTB Colorado Springs Falcon Guide I was stoked for the 30 miles of singletrack and one of the best rides in Colorado. After driving about 2 hours from Colorado Springs, we finally made it to the trail. First of all, the trail can hardly be called singletrack. If anything, it is a very wide singletrack, wide enough to accommodate a wide ATV. The biggest disappointment, however, was the large amount of rocks covering most of the trail. These rocks ranged from fist to head size and they were littered all over the trail. It is almost impossible to get any kind of rhythm going when trying to ride on flat to slightly upward sloping trail. I took a bunch of pictures (see sample below) to show you what I mean. There were a few short stretches of trail that were sweet - smooth trail, lots of trees, etc. For the most part, however, the trail stunk.
added by Jeff BarberWorld Champ
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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Q: what tags do you need -Guest

A: Tags for what?

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Local Info & Nearby Trails
Photo & Video Gallery (4)
Trail Photos & Videos (4)
Reviews (13)

June 20, 2016
Review: My girlfriend and I got on the Rainbow Trail to ride at the Duckett Creek trailhead. We rode a few miles south and maybe a mile north. This was NOT a fun ride. While there were stretches of rideable terrain and a few fun places to climb and descend, most of the trail was covered with loose rocks, ranging from the size of your fist to the size of your head. Absolute jarring hell, and for us at least, impossible to climb the steeper sections that were covered with the rocks. We had to get off and walk our bikes a lot. We each took some spills and have bruises and scrapes to show for it. Maybe experts would like the challenge, but I kind of even doubt that. I don't recommend for mountain bikes. People seemed to be having fun doing it on their ATVs, however!

Similar Trail: Hope I don't find one!

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Granny Gear

June 11, 2012
sawatchboy Granny Gear  
Review: I too read the glowing review in the Falcon guide and drove from C Spgs stoked. 2 words...shitty trail. This is not in any way a trail I would ever do again on a mtn bike. It was insufferable. Even though the general trail gains little elevation you are constantly going into and out of creek drainages. That would be bad enough but the actuall trail surface is totally torn up by dirt bikes and ATVs making both the short descents and climbs impossible. Avoid this trail unless you really hate yourself.

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Granny Gear

June 12, 2008
Review: It has been a couple of years since I rode this trail, but 3 of us roade off from the Horn Creek Resort trail head and rode toward Hermit Road. I was a bit skeptical of this ride at first because my first encounter with it did include loose baby head river rock. This time the baby head was filled in with dirt and was very rideable. I can say his trek does include about everything mountain-bikeable except the big hops/drops. The three of us started about 12:00 noon and were at the resort by 5:00PM for chow. Watch out for the reviews that are 4 years or older because the trail changes as fast as the weather.

Similar Trail: Cisneros, Snow shoe near Lake Isabel

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May 28, 2006
Review: Given the wide variance in the reviews of this trail, my buddy and I decided to give it a try. We started at the Hermit Creek road, and headed north. After about six miles I stop and ask my partner "Have you had enough yet?" His reply was "I'd had enough about a mile ago." This trail is nothing more than an ATV trail that skirts along the base of the Wet (east) side of the Sangres. Other than the scenery it has no interesting features. Just easy up and down, grinding your way thru the woods on an ATV trail, puncuated with maddening stretches of churned up rocks from the ATVs. There are so many better places to ride. Just go north to Salida and hit the trails in that valley. You can even hit the Monarch Crest which drops into the start of the north end of the Rainbow Trail and is actually fun to ride. The stretch along Methodist Mountain is well worn in by pedal powered two-wheelers and is also a lot of fun. Skip this section.

Similar Trail: I would never recommend a trail like this one.

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October 5, 2005
Review: we just got back from an awesome colorado trip. we always go south for a day or two for the green creek trail just west of poncha springs and the rainbow. we ended up night riding almost 30 miles on the rainbow trail saturday night and it was awesome. the section we rode was very flowing and smooth. the further east we went, it seemed to get more rocky. if you want the smoother, more flowing part of the rainbow...try the sections by salida. its a great ride!!

Similar Trail: captain jack's in manitou!! pure awesomeness!!

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September 5, 2005
Review: My friend and I rode from south colony rd (very rough 4 wheel drive road) to Mnt hermit road. The trail was awsome, yes there are plenty of rocks hello rocky mountains. The whole trail is rideable even the climbs. we started at noon and got rained out for the last 14 miles. I read all the review and everybody ecxept a couple are a bunch of sissy la la's.

Similar Trail: Hermit pass otherwise nothing is like the rainbow trail

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Bunny Hop

August 17, 2004
Review: I have taken this ride every year for the last 3 years. While I have never done the entire trail I have done two portions of it around the Hayden Creek Campground. I have read the poor reviews of this trail and agree that ATVs and Motorbikes have done damage to the trail. However, I have found a portion which I think has some of the greatest riding in Colorado. Here is the secret. I start at the Hayden Creek campground and ride up the Rainbow trail as high as I can go. Then I sit down, slug some water and a clif bar, and prepare for the adrenaline pump down hill. According to trail maps and signs there is a lake 5 miles from the Hayden Creek campground; good luck I have never made it. Oh, just so you know most of the ascent will be spent on your feet. I recommend spending the night at either the Coaldale campground or the Hayden Creek campground. The scenery around this area is worth the 2 1/2 hour drive from Denver. To get there, search the internet for the Hayden Creek campground in the San Isabel National Forest.

Similar Trail: Parts similar to White Ranch

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July 23, 2003
Review: Three of us decided to ride the Rainbow Trail last month. We started out at the Horn Creek trailhead, about 10 miles south of Westcliffe, elevation about 9,000 feet, with our desination being Hermit Creek Road some 12 miles away as the crow flies. It was a gorgeous day, sunny and about 68 degrees when we left at 10 a.m. I was amazed at how rocky the trail was. You could not get any kind of momentum going, and it seemed we were pushing the bikes more than riding them. We got to Camp Alvarado around 12:30, where we were told we were about "halfway" to our destination. Not even close. After we ate lunch we began an over 1,000 feet elevation climb, and the terrain was getting worse and worse. Yes, the scenery was spectacular, but the stones became rocks which became boulders; that, combined with the intense elevation gain, really began to slow us down. It got worse. At about 1 it start to cloud over, about 1:20 it started to rain, and in 10 minutes we were in the middle of the biggest storm I have ever been in. Temperatures dropped to 42 degrees (my Sieko watch has a built-in thermometer and altimeter) and the rain turned to hail, then sleet and hail, and it was non-stop lightening and thunder, and it kept up for hours. We stayed huddled under a tree until 2 p.m., at which time we realized that, soaking wet and shivering, we either had to get off the mountain or die of hypothermia. Thus began are almost 3 hour journey off the mountain. We kept following the trail north, thinking that it would start to descend, but the elevation kept rising: 9200 feet, 9300 feet, finally 9400 feet. The trail was now a raging torrent of water and floating hail - you couldn't even see the ground underneath you. It wasn't until around 4:30 that we reached Hermit Road, which was in fact as badly rutted and rocky as the Rainbow Trail, only wider. We began our slow decent downward; I encouraged my mates to bike down as fast as we could, but one of them was a girl, and she was so shook up by now that she was afraid to ride and just jogged along, pushing her bike. I kept cajoling her along, trying to encourage her and yet also telling her that if we didn't get down soon, we could all end up freezing to death. By the time she took my advice and began navigating through the thick ice and flowing, freezing water, I found myself starting to shut down. I couldn't feel my feet, then I couldn't feel my hands, couldn't work the brakes. I started going slower and slower until I was barely moving at all. My friends road back up hill to get along side me and encouage me. I was so could, I just wanted to drop my bike and crawl up into a ball and lay down. It seemed like we were never going to get down. Then something strange occured; about 4:50 p.m., it got quiet: it took me a moment or two before it dawned on me what was happening: it had stopped thundering! I realized that from the moment it began to storm, there was either a fresh lightening strike and resultant thunder, or the rolling echo of a distant thunder, or both, for more than 3 straight hours! The quiet lasted less than 30 seconds before a new lightening strike continued the thunderous assault on our senses. Well, we got down to the paved road that led to Westcliffe, the hail had turned to rain, and we were safe, albeit soaking wet and shivering uncontrollably. It would be almost another hour before we could stip our soaking clothes off and take a life-saving hot shower. Needless to say, that is one trail I never plan to ride again.

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July 2, 2003
Review: I have never ridden a bike on this trail, but I have walked a large portion of it over the last 30 years. The ATV's have damaged it severly. However I have often removed down timber and large rocks from the trail. A few more people removing these obstructions would make the trail lovely again. The one thing I have not read in the other reviews was the fact that the scenery and lakes and streams are still the most wonderful anywhere. If you want to ride a smooth and even trail stay in the lowlands and leave the high country to the people who love and care for it. If anyone would like to organize a trail clean up I would be willing to help and help organize. By the way the Rainbow trail extends from north of Salida to New Mexico and if you have traveled only 30 miles you have seen a very small part of it. The trail has take offs in every valley to up near the peaks the entire length. Overall the trail system covers hundreds of miles.

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January 1, 1970
Review: That picture is very disappointing!! The Rainbow used to be packed dirt with a few roots. It looks like the ATVs have totally trashed the place. BIG BIG LOSS!! Is the whole thing like that? or just a little bit? If we're doing that kind of damage, we need to reaccess how we ride!!!

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Rainbow Trail: Westcliffe MTB Trail 3.09 out of 5 based on 13 ratings. 13 user reviews.
Trail Conditions
Trail Conditions          < / > embed