Monarch Crest August 7-9, 2003

Friday | Saturday

Photos from our Monarch Crest bike ride. Monarch Crest is on the order of 25 miles of single track, 8 of which are on the continental divide. A highly fun ride. The last 15 miles of single track (starting when you start into Silver Creek) is painful though...

Monarch Crest heads south from Monarch Pass west of Salida, Colorado. If you do go, stop for a meal at the 'Laughing Ladies'. Amazing food. They are in the old town part of Salida, ~10 blocks off of highway 50. Expect to spend some money here, salad, dinner, dessert ran ~$35 for me. Great food. I had the pork chops which were amazing, and Chris enjoyed the beef tri-tips. Well worth every penny! And great after a long ride!!

We drove down from Fort Collins Thursday afternoon and camped at the Monarch Spur Campground. Had a nice spot next to the river.


Aahhh, waking up at 5am... Such fun. I hate getting up before the sun. But ~25 miles of single track awaited us that was "mostly down hill" for a total of a ~38 mile day. Unfortunately the sky was cloudy.... Did not bode well. But turned out to be a great day, just a few sprinkles.

Anyways two topo maps. The large scale one is here. The smaller scale (still not the most detailed) is here. And a profile of the ride is here.

Here we are starting out after a long hard climb to the top of the pass.... in a nice comfortable van! We used High Valley shuttle to give us a lift up from Pagosa Springs. 8:45am and riding!

This was climbing up out of Monarch Pass. Fairly gentle for the most part.

Yes, I did say _up_ from Monarch Pass.... Pretty view whether in the trees our ridges.

Chris climbing through a meadow. And the sky's clearing up

Here's me and my bike on the Continental Divide Trail... Such fun!

Chris on the Divide.

Chris riding up a rocky section.

Looking Northish towards Monarch Pass. I think Mt. Princeton is in the background, Mt. Shavano is just out of the frame to the right.

And a view farther east, with Mt. Shavano visible.

S. Fooses Creek drainage. Didn't make it up that far when we rode it the next day.

Panoramic shot from the top of the drainage (~2MB)

Chris riding the ridgeline.

Looking west down towards Agate Creek.

Another view of the peaks.

Another view of the nice single track.

Another view, Mt. Ouray to the left... I know, it's no where near the town....

Well, done with the Alpine section, back to trees. Chris leading the way.

Another nice view

Love these views.

We were mostly in the trees from this point on.

But the single track from here to Marshall Pass was a blast!

Oh yeah, the guide did mention a scree/talus field...

This was a pain to get started on. Chris and I both had trouble getting clipped in and keeping up out momentum.

This is looking back, it was rideable to here... Okay all of it really was if I was a bit better :-)

Looking up the the scree. And we thought this was our last one....

Looking west from the trail. Nice...

Some nice flowers at a quarry. Single track was done until after Marshall Pass. But it was a fun jeep road descent.

More trees climbing out of Marshall Pass

More trees, I even shot this riding without crashing :-)

Me at a great viewpoint. One valley behind me is where we descended into Silver Creek.

Chris at the same point. We just didn't realize there was a nice climb between us and lunch and the descent!(right at the foot of the mountains in the background)

Looking southwest.

panoramic shot to the south (~800K).

Aaahhh, lunch. Looking east down the Silver Creek drainage. Great spot for lunch. Fun descent coming. Sangre de Cristo's in the background.

After a wicked descent from the ridge (I just love disc brakes) we entered some Aspen. This would be amazing in September.

The trail from here on out to 285 was single track through Aspen and Evergreen like this... No mistakes allowed

Yet more great views

The guide book didn't mention this! I thought we were done with the scree!! This section was nasty... And it went on for a good distance

Chris wimping out and walking his bike through a little water

Little did he know this was waiting for him! The stream and road merged thanks to a friendly Beaver.

And here's the culprit. Shortly after this we were off Silver Creek Trail and onto the Rainbow trail.... Little did we know how painful this section of "downhill" would be!

This doesn't do justice... This was the 4th or 5th climb on this section. Everytime the trail would turn right, we'd drop into a drainage and hit a nasty climb that was either loose, rocky, steep, or all 3. It was break time.

At least we had some nice views along the way.

Didn't come out quite as good

We ate lunch below that peak in the far distance. The scree field we came through was by the cliff that's barely visible in the middle of the picture (the Gate).
No more pics.... Rainbow Trail was a real bear, and I was amazed how hard a "downhill" ride could be! And how much uphill it could have.... But the pavement on 285 was sweet... Just wish I had my roadbike with me!


We did a late start today to get back some sleep. The day dawned beautiful. Not a cloud out even after breakfast. Finally hit the trail at around 10:15am.

Anyways two topo maps. What we rode plus elevation profile is here. And a view without the route is here.

Very much like being in the NW. Quite a nice cool ride!

They warned us to watch out for the bridges... The second one was nasty. I slipped once on it. We rode until noon, then came back.

The downhill was an utter blast. Chris riding up and over the last bridge before the trailhead

Here I am doing it... Looks like it doesn't it :-) I actually didn't get my rear wheel on it that time and had to stop.

After a better clip in, I cleaned it nicely this time... If only Chris had moved after snapping the picture, I would have had the ability to actually ride after getting off the bridge!
The car was maybe 1.5 miles away, it was starting to sprinkle, and a short time later we were in a major downpour.... I got utterly drenched. But a great ride.

So all in all a fun trip, I'd highly recommend both trails to anyone!