Dirt Rag Magazine

Featured Trail Friday: Monarch Crest Trail, Colorado

monarch

Photo by BobinConifer

Trail stats

  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Length: 35 miles
  • Average Singletracks.com rating: 4.93 out of 5 stars

Description

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, 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 mudhunny

User reviews

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. — 7ofClubs

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… 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… 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. — arnolda14

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