Rainbow Trail

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Rainbow Trail (#1336) Hayden Creek

A few access points to Rainbow Trail (#1336) Hayden Creek section are located between Coaldale and Hayden Creek Campgrounds. There are two trailheads located off of the Hayden Creek road near the campgrounds. The first trailhead is located on the right side of the road. This portion of the trail travels west for about 12 miles to the Bear Creek trailhead on Forest Road 101 just south of Salida.

The next portion of the trail travels south towards Big Cottonwood and can be accessed by hiking down Forest Road 6C to the end, where the next section of trail begins. From this point the trail continues south for 6 miles to the next trailhead.

Motorcycles are permitted on this single-track trail. ATV’s and four-wheel drive vehicles are prohibited due to trail width restrictions. The Rainbow Trail skirts the eastern edge of the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness area where regulations apply and motorized vehicles and bikes are not permitted.

Detailed maps of the Rainbow Trail are available at the Salida Ranger District office, 325 W. Rainbow Blvd., (Hwy 50), Salida, CO 81201

At a Glance

Permit Info:  Special use permits are required for all commercial activities including outfitting and guiding. For more information, contact the Salida Ranger District at 719-539-3591.
Open Season:  May
Usage:  Light-Medium
Best Season:  Summer and Fall
Busiest Season:  Summer

Directions:

From Hwy 50 in Coaldale, Co, watch for a sign that says “National Forest Access, Hayden Creek”. Turn at the sign onto County Road 6 and continue for 4.3 miles to the trailhead. The Rainbow Trail (#1336) is located between Coaldale and Hayden Creek campgrounds. There are two trailheads located off of the Hayden Creek road. The first trailhead is located on the right side of the road. This  portion of the trail travels west for about 12 miles to the Bear Creek trailhead near Salida. The next portion of the trail travels south toward Big Cottonwood and can be accessed by hiking down Forest Road 6C. The road terminates at the next section of trail. From this point the trail continues south for 6 miles to the next trailhead.

Parking:

Parking is across the road from the first trailhead. Visitors can park near County Road 6C to access the southern trailhead.

Accessibility:

This trail is not universally accessible.

Directions:

The Rainbow Trail (#1336) is located between Coaldale and Hayden Creek campgrounds. There are two trailheads located off of the Hayden Creek road. The first trailhead is located on the right side of the road. This  portion of the trail travels west for about 12 miles to the Bear Creek trailhead near Salida. The next portion of the trail travels south toward Big Cottonwood and can be accessed by hiking down Forest Road 6C. The road terminates at the next section of trail. From this point the trail continues south for 6 miles to the next trailhead.

Motorcycles are permitted on this single-track trail.

Difficulty Level:  Moderate

Safety Information

This is “Bear Country” and backpackers must take appropriate precautions when traveling and camping. Store food away from camp.

Rainbow Trail (#1336) Mears Junction East

From Poncha Springs, CO, travel south on Highway 285 for 5 miles. Just past the turnoff of O’Haver Lake (CR 200), watch for a parking pulloff on the right side of the highway. The trailhead is located on the east side of Highway 285. Use caution when crossing the highway.

At a Glance

Permit Info:  Special use permits are required for all commercial activities including outfitting and guiding. For more information, contact the Salida Ranger District at 719-539-3591
Open Season:  May
Usage:  Medium-Heavy
Best Season:  Summer and Fall
Busiest Season:  Summer
Closest Towns:  Poncha Springs and Salida, CO
Water:  No
Restroom:  No
Operated By:  Salida Ranger District

Accessibility:

There are no universally accessible facilities at this site.

General Notes:

The Rainbow Trail(#1336) travels east from Mears Junction for about 7 miles to the Methodist Mountain trailhead (CR 108) and then continues east for 5.5 miles to the Bear Creek trailhead (CR 101).

Mountain Biking

This section of the Rainbow Trail (#1336) travels east from Mears Junction for 12.5 miles to the Bear Creek trailhead located just of Salida.

Status:  Open
Difficulty Level:  Intermediate

Day Hiking

This section of the Rainbow Trail (#1336) is a great, leisurely hike and offers incredible views of Salida and the Arkansas river valley. Hikers should note that mountain bikes and motorcycles are a common site on this trail.

Status:  Open
Difficulty Level:  Easy to Intermediate

Trail Riding

The Rainbow Trail is open to single-track motorcycle riding but is closed to ATV’sand other four-wheel drive vehicles. The trail is a nice ride from Mears Junction to the Bear Creek trailhead and most riders will continue riding from Bear Creek to Hayden Creek. The mileage from Mears Junction to Hayden Creek is approximately 20.5 miles.

Status:  Open
Difficulty Level:  Intermediate

Rainbow Trail (#1336) at Bear Creek trailhead

This trailhead is located east of Salida, off of County Road 101 and accesses the Rainbow Trail (#1336) which travels east from the Poncha Springs area along the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The Rainbow Trail is over 100 miles in length and travels south from the Salida area into the Wet Mountain valley and terminates near the Great Sand Dunes National Park. This trail is open to motorcycles, mountain bikers, horse and foot traffic but closed to ATV’s and 4-wheeled vehicles.

At a Glance

Rentals & Guides:  No rentals or guides available
Area Amenities:  Tent camping,Parking
Fees  No fee required
Permit Info:  Special use permits are required for all types of commercial activity including outfitting and guiding services.
Open Season:  May
Usage:  Medium
Best Season:  June-September
Busiest Season:  July
Restrictions:  ATV’s are not permitted on this portion of the Rainbow Trail.
Closest Towns:  Salida, Colorado
Water:  No potable water available.
Restroom:  None
Passes:  No passes required

Accessibility:

This site is not universally accessible.

Directions:

From Salida, Colorado travel east on Colorado Highway 50 for 2 miles. Watch for County Road 101 on the right. Turn right onto CR 101 and travel south on this road for 3.5 miles, crossing a cattleguard near the boundary to the National Forest. The last 1.5 miles to the trailhead are rough and will require a high clearance or 4-wheel drive vehicle.

General Notes:

The Rainbow Trail travels east and west from the Bear Creek trailhead and skirts the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness area. The wilderness is located just a short distance, south, of the Rainbow Trail. Recreationists should be aware that motorized and mechanized (bicycles) vehicles are not permitted in the Wilderness area. This is a popular trail for mountain biking, motorcycles and day hikers with July being the busiest season for recreation uses.

Parking:

Parking, at the trailhead, is limited to 4-5 vehicles.

Stats

  • Trail Measurement: 12.5 Miles
  • Compass Latitude: 375846N
  • Compass Longitude: 1052959W
  • Numeric Latitude: 37.9794446
  • Numeric Longitude: -105.4997286
  • Elevation in Meters: 2897
  • Elevation in Feet: 9506

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