The views of Mt. Shavano and Tabeguache Peak are absolutely spectacular! (It reminded us a little bit of the scenery we saw in Banff last summer.)
It is also pretty incredible that the lively town of Salida is only a few miles from the remote wilderness you'll find yourself in on this route.
Mt. Shavano is a popular trailhead. However, the dirt road is pretty rugged, so car traffic was minimal. We saw no more than a couple of cars once we hit the dirt. (Avoid doing this route early on a weekend morning if you want to have the least amount of vehicles on the road with you.)
This could be just a simple out-and-back, but there is a tiny loop that can be made by going up 250 and coming down 250A.
250A is through the trees on relatively smooth and packed dirt, making the first half of the gravel decent speedy and delightful.
The final few downhill miles back into town on the pavement of Airport Road were screaming fast after having to ride the brakes on the last several miles of the technical dirt decent.
You do have to cross Highway 285 at mile 5 on the way out and again at mile 23 on the way back. There is no light and traffic is fast moving. Be patient and wait for a safe time to cross.
The last few miles of the dirt decent are very lumpy, bumpy and bone jarring, so while we usually desire a high percentage of gravel to tarmac, the smooth pavement back into Salida was quite welcome!
Do this ride if you want a challenging and remote gravel climb that is just miles from the mountain town of Salida. With the dirt ascent only being a little over 6 miles long it is a good route to dabble in more technical terrain while being distracted by stunning views.
We started this ride from Downtown Salida at the Brown Dog Coffee Company where there was plenty of public street parking.
An alternative place to park is the free F Street public parking lot .(Look for the Red Train Caboose. There is a port-a-potty in the lot.)
If you are looking for an excellent breakfast burrito and/or baked goods to fuel your ride, stop by Bunny and Clyde's Corner Cafe and Market which was open starting at 8am. (Check the website for current hours.)
Expect about 6.5 mile on the gravel at an average grade of approximately 5-6%. The first 4.5 miles of this are technical, chunky and lumpy, but don't give up- the final 2 miles up to the top smooth out and the surface becomes a lot less of a challenge.
Once you leave the town of Salida, there is no place to stop for food or water. Take what you will need to stay fueled and hydrated.
There is a vault toilet at the trailhead parking lot at approximately mile 14.
For a perfect post-ride treat on a hot summer day, stop at Chill Salida Ice Cream and you will not be disappointed!