Explore Salida Area - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Salida Area Map

plus the extra 50 miles or so that goes South almost to the Huerfano county line.

17 days ago

We did this hike today (Oct 26) starting at 2pm and it was beautiful. There is some snow and ice starting around 10k ft but most of the trail is wooded and wide with great cover and pretty trees. The lakes are really pretty and we met several people who saw moose. Since we started in the afternoon we avoided most of the direct sunlight and the trail wasn’t crowded. I would definitely do this hike again.

Mt. Yale was my first 14'er. I am from the midwest, so not use to seeing or hiking this type of terrain (mainly the elevation). It is not for the faint of heart, that is for sure. But I was in OK shape from running and decided to give it a go.

The river is the first thing you notice at the start of the trailhead. It's refreshing to hear the water rushing down as part of the snow melt. The trail is wide and easy to follow for the first several miles. There was a little ice and snow to deal with below the treeline. I was able to move at 2-4 mph for the first several miles before I decided that I should slow down and conserve energy. Later on, I would realize that was a wise decision.

Getting above the treeline was exciting and you really begin to see the beauty of this trail and climb. The initial part above the treeline is steeper but it "flattens out" for a ways (meaning the elevation gain is not too difficult). The most difficult part that day above the treeline was trying to navigate the trail with large swaths of snow. I lost the trail a few times due to the snow (it wasn't deep and I was up early enough that it was still in the shade, so no post holing). Once you get to the last 1/2 mile or so going up, it moves into a switchback that I couldn't find due to the snow. So, I could see where the false summit was, so I just decided that I was going to start heading up vertical...I did that for ~900' of vertical gain! The most challenging part here was the loose terrain and the fear in the back of my head that I wouldn't make it home to my wife and 3 kids :-) However, I took it slow to make sure I stayed safe.

Once I got to the false summit, it was another 200' up (vertical) having to hop and jump around large boulders. It was also VERY windy. The wind made this part very challenging. But the view up at the summit, seeing so many snow capped peaks, was breath taking. I ate my lunch up there, took it in for about 30 mins, and then headed back down.

One thing I will say, you feel so small when you are on top of a mountain. Great perspective on life from up there. I feel so important most days, but it was a very different feeling up there. Humbling and good for the soul.

The trek down was most difficult for me...didn't realized how much that would pound on my thighs. I had hoped to run down, but decided against it to stay safe. My legs were spent by the time I got down. I took a 3 hour nap that felt like 5 mins!

I'd highly recommend this route...the beauty of the trail is worth all the effort. The view from the top is breath taking. Have a blast!

A nice hike with great views.

gorgeous views along this trail!

Did this on 10/14 after a big snow storm. Was a chilly and epic adventure. Post-holing up to the hips for the last mile. Good fun.

1 month ago

Nice hike even though I didn't make it to the top. I started too late in the day and didn't feel comfortable hiking back in the dark. The trailhead is tough to find from the highway. The 2.3 miles from Monarch Lodge is accurate though and there is a sign for Monarch Sled Dog Rides right at the upper end of the parking area. The trail starts at the downhill end of the parking area.
It is a steep trail for a mid-westerner like myself but a good challenge.

off road driving
1 month ago

Drove up from St Elmo to the summit, beautiful drive, not to tough, did it in Chevy 2500 and had plenty of clearance, took the advice from the guys coming up from Tincup and went back the way I came

Lovely hike but toward the hard end of the moderate range for me
Challenging going up the steep rocky trail And we saw only one other hiker during the entire hike which we did around noon on a Friday
The lake was lovely as were numerous small waterfalls along the way
Would definitely recommend this hike!

This was as mentioned a hard moderate hike. 4 over 50 year old flatlanders in moderate condition 2 hrs to get to the top. The one mile on the road was ok, we saw 3 mule deer, the mile of loose rocks was the hardest part up and down. The mile by the stream and around the lakes was just wonderful. Take the time to circle the lake and enjoy the silence. Listen to the wind through the Aspen and the trout jump. Very peaceful. I took a star off just because a few more switch backs during the descent of the rock portion would have been nice.

The lakes at the top were crystal clear and really neat to look at.

I use to live in this town and worked with a lady who along with her whole family got crushed by a rock slide here. Not worth it still very risky and there are many trails that are prettier.

off road driving
1 month ago

this is a fun trail. the aspens were changing colors. beautiful views and only ran into 1 other vehicle on a weekday. a high clearance 4x4 is necessary to get to the top. i drove a 97 land cruiser with a 2 inch lift and had no issues. lakes are beautiful! sadly the trail is closed to motor vehicles before you even reach the first lake.

Was absolutely beautiful today as the aspen are perfect

2 months ago

There's a trailhead sign, but it's difficult to see from the HWY as it's behind some trees/branches. The easiest way to find the trailhead is just to look at where the lake's outlet stream crosses the HWY on a map (let google maps guide you, but best to download an offline map before hand). Plenty of parking across the street in dirt turn offs.

The way up isn't bad, the steeper parts are often followed by moderate sections and I didn't have to stop too many times to catch my breath. The trail is fairly rocky, so you'll have to keep your eyes on the road. Nice tree cover the whole way. Made it the upper lake in about 70 minutes and back down in about 45 minutes.

The trail to the upper lake isn't obvious; I just headed to the opposite side of the first lake and hiked straight up the hill behind the dispersed site on the other side. Once you get to the top of that hill you have to cross a boulder field. You can avoid jumping boulders by finding your way a bit the left of where you came up the hill and then follow the faint path across the field where you don't have to do any "jumping".

The shores of the upper lake are pretty rocky and tree covered, so don't expect a nice beach up there. However the views are stunning, especially with the fall colors in full swing right now.

I'm giving 4 stars because the way to the upper lake isn't obvious and also I saw so many people up there. I prefer something a bit more secluded.

2 months ago

I hiked this trail this morning and it is NOT closed. There are signs at the trailhead warning that a recent flash flood/rock slide has made the trail hazardous.
Conditions of trail were loose rock, gravel, and sand. Nothing a pair of hiking boots can’t tackle. As you get closer to the top, there is another sign indicating that you assume risk beyond that point. If you continue on, expect some scrambling. If you take your time and pay attention to where others have gone, you will find a route. Use common sense.

I only gave four stars due to the difficulty finding the trailhead and the trail to the second lake. ***Another reviewer posted directions which were very helpful. The trailhead is directly across from the lower parking area. (I’m posting a pic with an arrow.) Highway 50 is very busy, so be sure to have a good hold on your pups/kids and look both ways before crossing!
Otherwise — wow! What a beautiful trail. It is very rocky and steep, but my three 12-year-old pups did fine. If you have knee issues I definitely suggest trekking poles. There are several stream crossings where they can get water, and of course the lake where they can swim. We encountered no mosquitos at the first lake, but didn’t get to the second due to a storm coming in. We went on Sunday and only saw three other groups/individuals.

great quick beautiful rewarding hike.

2 months ago

nice trail but on the high side of moderate. Not for old out of shape guys like me. I had to turn around about half way because it was too steep for me and my pug.
make sure your app is active as the trail could be better marked.

2 months ago

Who doesn’t like a trail with an objective? This one leads to a couple of alpine lakes. Beautiful views all around and we barely saw anyone. Our dogs were able to run off leash

The hike was beautiful. There is parking on the opposite side of the road to the trailhead. Google maps said to turn right but there was no road. we went up with kids aged 6 and under. The hike said it was 3 miles but my Fit Bit said 5 miles. Good to know with kiddos. The lake was pretty and worth the hike.

Had a lot of fun hiking this trail first of September. Plenty of shade, beautiful views and a nice variety of wildlife.

I used to hike this trail as a kid and remember being in awe of the views and history. I can tell you as an adult i was equally in awe. A couple of run ins with some deer on the trail and a few pika making it everything you want in an early morning adventure.

off road driving
2 months ago

Great utv trail with awesome views and lots of great camping spots. Very rocky but not too difficult, just have to take it slow in some spots. A little crowded towards the top of the pass where the path is not quite wide enough for 2 vehicles. I brought my parents here over labor day weekend and they very much enjoyed it, the fall colors were starting early and made for great views.

Delightful hike to waterfall. Good for family hike and adventure. Use caution at top as rocks are lose,but nothing to be frightful of.

mountain biking
2 months ago

This is one of the easiest trails in the Salida area. It’s a great trail to check out when you are new to the area and still getting acclimated. The climbs are relatively easy and it is one of the least technical trails. Overall it is just kind of an easy going cross country mountain bike trail. I take my seven-year-old here to ride frequently and he love going down Racetrack.

Easy hike from a popular trailhead. Would be interested in backpacking here on a weekday in shoulder season (since it was pretty busy) to camp/fish.

As the description says, this is not an easy trail for beginners. I started with the idea that I would do this hike, camp out up top and do Mt Yale from the east ridge. this was the plan because east ridge is very difficult and the route just to get there is difficult. I continued on to the Yale summit without making camp. Needless to say, I wish I hadn't done that. it was VERY windy at the summit and so I decided I would cache my pack and I brought 2 qts of water up with me. it was nowhere near enough. the east ridge is full of Class 3's and the wind definitely plays a part in how fast you get up there, which won't be fast. Bring plenty of water (I made a judgement call, it was a mistake) and camp near the Colorado trail intersection if possible. Also, I feel as though I've gone on talking about an additional trail option and not the main trail, my apologies. Also, not many wildflowers but plenty of marmots and turkey.

2 months ago

Loved this trail - lots of flowers, history and scenic views. Saw a couple pika peeking out among the rocks.

Absolutely beautiful. Heavy populated road, a lot of hikers and people. Amazing historic markers with fascinating stories. Lots of Marmots so be listening for the squeaker toy sounds!

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