5 Best Dirt Biking & ATV Trails in Salida & Buena Vista

One of the great things about staying at Creekside Chalets is that we are located near some of the best dirt biking & ATV trails you’ll find in Colorado. The trails provide you with an opportunity to get up close and personal with the local flora and fauna, explore old mining towns, and take in the breathtaking views you’ll only find in Colorado. 

We’ve compiled a list of what we think are the 5 best dirt biking and ATV trails in Salida and Buena Vista.

Marshall Pass

Marshall Pass is a gravel and sand pass that is wide enough for regular cars during the dry spell and is accessible to dirt bikers and ATVers during most of the year. Although Marshall Pass isn’t generally considered a particularly difficult trail, loose gravel breaks and ripples created by seasonal frost heaves can make it challenging for dirt bike beginners. Heavy rains make sections of this road challenging to navigate, so you’ll want to wear a pair of functional boots if you must get off and push your bike in places. 

While there are times when it’s easy to get frustrated by the conditions of Marshall Pass, most outdoor lovers agree that the beauty of the road makes the trip worthwhile, especially in the summer and fall. 

Before becoming a popular dirt biking trail, Marshall Pass was a rail line. Per the laws at the time, the grade was kept to 3% for the entire pass. 

The entire time you’re dirt biking or riding your ATV on Marshall Pass, you’ll stay just below the tree line. While this means you won’t get some of the breathtaking views provided by other trails, it does allow you to enjoy the local flora and fauna. 

Marshall Pass Quick Facts:

  • A point-to-point trail
  • Dogs are allowed, provided they’re kept on a leash
  • Both dirt/gravel road
  • Multi-use trail
  • 13.6 miles long
  • 2,585 feet in elevation
  • Suitable for both dirt bikes and ATVs
  • 37 miles from Creekside Chalets

Front Side, Tenderfoot Hill, Little Rattler and Spiral Trail

The Front Side, Tenderfoot Hill, Little Rattler, and Spiral Trail is the perfect choice when you’re looking for a pretty trail that gets a moderate amount of traffic and doesn’t present any extreme challenges. It’s an excellent trail for less experienced dirt bikers and is the right choice when you have children along for the ride.

When you reach the top of Tenderfoot Hill, you’ll encounter a staircase that leads to a small building that provides you with an excellent view. Not only is this a great place to take a break and enjoy a snack.

There is a river that runs along portions of the trail.

Front Side, Tenderfoot Hill, Little Rattler, and Spiral Trail Quick Facts:

  • Dogs are allowed
  • The trail is accessible all year round
  • It’s an 8.1-mile loop
  • 12 miles from Creekside Chalets

Arnold Gulch Road

Arnold Gulch Road is a short stretch of trail that provides you with access to an excellent trail network that can keep you busy for days. Technically, Arnold’s Gulch Road is listed as a beginner’s trail ride, but you should know that the road features deep sand that requires a steady hand. The deep sand makes it difficult for anything other than ATVs and dirt bikes to navigate, allowing you to enjoy this short trail without having to worry too much about mountain bikers.

Arnold Gulch Road Quick Facts:

  • An out and back ATV single track road
  • 2 miles long
  • Sandy Terrain
  • Leads directly to the Arnold Gulch Area trail system
  • 34.3 miles from Creekside Chalets

Tin Cup Pass, St. Elmo ATV Trail

Anyone who loves off-roading, beautiful landscapes, and historical buildings will fall in love with Tin Cup Pass. The high-elevation trail takes you to Tin Cup, a tiny community where you’ll find a lovely assortment of buildings that date back to the turn of the century. A few businesses are still open, making this a great place to stop and get a bite to eat before hitting the trails again. 

Don’t let the warm weather fool you. When you’re ready to tackle Tincup Pass, you’ll want to have an extra layer of warm clothes in your gear. The pass’s elevation is 12,000 feet, and there is usually snow through early July. There is one rocky section of trail which also happens to be a narrow stretch of shelf road.

Tin Cup Pass Quick Facts:

  • The elevation is 12,000 ft.
  • The elevation gain is 2,089 feet
  • Kid-friendly
  • 13-mile point to point the trail
  • After the snow has melted, it’s a good beginner trail
  • 19.2 miles from Creekside Chalets

Hancock Pass

Hancock Pass is an excellent trail for all levels of ATVers and dirt bike riders. The trail is not used as frequently as others in the area, making it an excellent choice for families. It’s not uncommon for off-roaders to picnic in the area, swim in the nearby river, and embark on photography sessions. The trail goes through two different ghost towns. One, Hancock Town has virtually vanished from sight, leaving nothing but a few crumbled building foundations and lovely flowers. The other ghost town is St. Elmo, where you can explore several of the old mining buildings. Another point of interest located on the Hancock Pass is the entrance to the abandoned Allie Belle Mine, which looks like a lovely piece of modern art.

The best time to explore Hancock Pass is from May-September.

Hancock Pass Quick Facts:

  • A portion of the trail is rail grade, that’s easily navigated by off-roaders. The second portion is a steep trail. Skid plates are recommended.
  • 14.2-mile-long Point-to-point off-road trail
  • 3,143 feet elevation gain
  • Dogs are allowed on the trail
  • 44 miles from Creekside Chalets.

This is just a small sample of the excellent dirt biking and ATV trails in Salida and Buena Vista. Contact us to learn more about the local trails and to book your stay at Creekside Chalets.

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