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Bear Creek - Rainbow - Columbine loop

Intermediate
 4.1 (10) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Closest ride to Salida that makes you feel like you're out in the middle of nowhere.


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Map Key

8.8

Miles

14.2

KM

70%

Singletrack

8,992' 2,741 m

High

7,883' 2,403 m

Low

1,347' 411 m

Up

1,325' 404 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

24%

Max Grade (14°)

Dogs Off-leash

E-Bikes Not Allowed

Overview

This ride starts with a 3-mile grind up a sometimes steep and loose high clearance two wheel drive road, but what follows is 6 miles of really good singletrack, with a sweet downhill back to the car. Rated difficult because of that 3-mile grind up the road; know before you go.

Need to Know

Although this is only a 9-mile ride, it 'feels' like a bit of an adventure. Be prepared and self-sufficient; bring supplies and tools.

This is bear & mountain lion country. Make noise while you're out there on the trail. Consider bringing bear-spray.

The Rainbow trail is popular with dirt bikers, their presence is perfectly legal. In fact, they have adopted this trail and perform trail work so we can all enjoy it. Listen for them and move out of their way to let them through. It's easier for mountain bikers to get off the trail. The Columbine Trail is popular with hikers and runners, try to control your speed on the way down as there are several blind turns.

Say hi to other trail users, be courteous.

Description

From Highway 50, drive up Bear Creek Road (CR101/CR49) and park at the Columbine trailhead. Ignore the Columbine singletrack, and instead start riding farther up Bear Creek Road (CR101/CR49), which changes into a high clearance two wheel drive road. Bear Creek keeps you company most of the way up the 3-mile climb, and you can see the surrounding scenery change from arid to very green and moist, the farther you get up the road. Which, unfortunately, gets increasingly steeper and looser as you go. With a good granny gear, it's rideable though, all the way to the top, the end of the road, where the Rainbow Trail awaits.

Take a well-deserved break, and then make sure to turn right, onto the Rainbow Trail #1336: Bear Creek to Mears Junction (Methodist Mountain Section). Within seconds, you'll forget all about that grind up the road. The singletrack flows and winds through the forest, with the occasional climb, always followed by another descent. Soon you'll get to an open area, with a great view of Salida in the distance. Look for the S, above the town.

The next section starts with a good descent, followed by a mix of up and down. Eventually, the longest ascent will get you to the intersection with Columbine, almost 7 miles into this ride. Turn sharp right onto Columbine, which is 99% downhill, and offers a fun mix of newer style contour trail and old fashioned fall-line. Before you know it, you'll be back at your car, hopefully with a smile on your face.

Contacts

Shared By:

Marcel S

Trail Ratings

  4.1 from 10 votes

#2007

Overall
  4.1 from 10 votes
5 Star
40%
4 Star
40%
3 Star
10%
2 Star
10%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#308

in Colorado

#2,007

Overall
20 Views Last Month
3,435 Since Feb 8, 2019
Intermediate

0%
0%
88%
0%
13%
0%

Photos

The Rainbow Trail isn't short on views...
Dec 22, 2015 near Salida, CO
Awesome turns through a snowy patch of the Rainbow Trail.
Dec 22, 2015 near Salida, CO
Rainbow Trail near Columbine Trail
Sep 7, 2016 near Salida, CO
View of Methodist Mountain.
Apr 17, 2022 near Salida, CO
Beautiful views from this trail.
Apr 17, 2022 near Salida, CO
Miles of this on Rainbow Trail
Aug 31, 2014 near Salida, CO

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Check-Ins

Apr 15, 2022
Christina Thomas
Too snowy for April
Jul 3, 2021
Tim Tonk
missable. lots of sand, pebbles and fire burn. some good flow but not much else
Oct 16, 2020
Cindy Vanover
Really wonderful. The fire damage is sad though and yet beautiful and natural. Just don't miss the turn to columbine like I did. Watch your mileage. 19.3mi — 2h 30m
Aug 17, 2020
Kat Eaton
Rainbow Trail closed from 101-108
Aug 9, 2020
Adam Sher
The road up from the Columbine trailhead to the Rainbow Trail, the Rainbow Trail and the Columbine Trail have all be very affected by the Decker Fi…
Jun 21, 2020
Micah H
8mi — 2h 15m
Aug 25, 2019
Jessica Whalen
8.8mi — 2h 01m
Aug 8, 2019
Elizabeth Zeiler