This route is brought to you by our friends, the Galpackas, who's mission is to offer bikepacking trips for all gals to discover the magic of exploring the trail together. They believe in welcoming women of all backgrounds and skill levels to the trail, in creating a space for supportive and inclusive community, and that bikepacking is a place to kudos each other’s achievements and be proud of our own!
They rode the 52 mile, one-way route over three days as part of a bikepacking trip. You can do the same, break it up into two days, or ride all 52 miles the first day, spend the night in Buena Vista, and bike back the next day. If you're up for something more epic, make it a 104 mile out and back route!
This one-way route takes you from beautiful Salida to Buena Vista, Colorado, which follows quiet gravel, doubletrack, and an optional singletrack bonus at the end.
Ride through aspen filled ridge lines, multiple open high grassland parks, and by interesting geologic formations formed by the remnants of ancient lava flows.
The route follows part of the historic Midland Railroad Grade- once a railway from the western slope to Denver. It is now a beautiful trail through narrow cut gulches above Buena Vista.
This route could be ridden as a larger day-ride or offers multiple dispersed camping opportunities on Forest Service land or designated campsites in the Four Mile Recreation Area.
We don’t recommend riding this route in the spring when things are still snowy or wet. We made the mistake of riding this route in March and spent a lot of time hiking our bikes around large mud and snow fields. Give it plenty of time to thaw out. Even if things in Buena Vista or Salida seem dry, it can take a little more time for the snow to melt at higher elevations.
This route does cross US-285, which requires caution and awareness of vehicles. We utilized spotters down the road to ensure the way was entirely clear.
Part of the route passes through Four Mile Recreation Area - a big OHV hub. We never ran into any problems with other land users.
Do this ride if you want a beautiful gravel route (or bikepack) that explores the ridge that divides the Arkansas River Valley and South Park Valley with the full spectrum of gravel terrain and a little bit of singletrack.
There are some seasonal streams that can be filtered for water. More reliable is Trout Creek about halfway through the ride, which flows throughout the year. It is also possible to do a water drop on this ride with mid-route access from US 285.
Be mindful of private land. This route is along county and forest service roads but at times the land on either side is private.
If you want to make this route a bikepack trip there are dispersed camping options around mile 10 or 11. There are also multiple first-come-first-serve campsites in Four Mile Recreation Area (around mile 29 - 31). No bathroom facilities are nearby to be sure to bring a towel and pack out your own TP if camping.
This route is pretty remote. Plan to pack enough snacks or food for the entirety of the route.
This route ends with about a mile of blue rated singletrack, which provides the opportunity to test your technical gravel skills, or is easily walkable if that isn’t your style. Another option to skip the singletrack is to end the ride right before mile 50, at CR 304 - nearby to the Collegiate Peaks Overlook scenic area.
There is some technical climbing around mile 41 as you gain Limestone Ridge. We did a little hike a bike over some rockier sections and at some steep points on the trail.
Around mile 7 there are some colorful signs posted by the locals. We were wary at first but really we think they’ve been posted to warn vehicles of a large lingering spring snowfield that is waiting to get cars stuck just around the curve.
We left our cars overnight at the forest service parking lot off Ute Trail and didn't run into any problems, however be smart and remember not to leave valuables in your vehicle and follow any posted signs.
In terms of bikepacking gear, we recommend Oveja Negra packs. They are based in Salida and we’ve used their gear for multiple trips around the west. Always great to support the local makers, especially when we are riding in their backyard!
Buena Vista offers plenty of post-ride beer and snack spots, one of our favorites is Eddyline Brewery. It can be busy but we find the wait goes pretty quick. We like going to the South Main location. (Right across the street is Black Burro Bikes. When we walked in we were greeted by a friendly gal at the counter who helped us with some long-term parking questions.)
In Salida a couple of our favorite pre-ride meal options are Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub as well as The Fritz. Our favorite Salida bike shop is Sub-Culture Cyclery those guys quickly helped us with a minor mechanical and didn’t charge us a dime.
Galpackas' mission is to offer bikepacking trips for all gals to discover the magic of exploring the trail together. We believe in welcoming women of all backgrounds and skill levels to the trail, in creating a space for supportive and inclusive community, and that bikepacking is a place to kudos each other’s achievements and be proud of our own!
The Galpackas was brainstormed by Monica Ramstad and Heather Quandt. We are two RNs who have biked together around the west and abroad. We aren’t professional athletes. We just like to ride bikes. Our favorite things include watermelon sour patch gummies after a long slog, biking dirt in tutus, and the way wildflowers kaleidoscope when you whiz by them on a descent. We dreamed up Galpackas to combine our love of bikepacking and community with other gals.
Learn more about our community at galpackas.com or follow us on Instagram.
See ya on the trail!