Poplar Gulch Trail

This trail travels north, from the historic townsite of St. Elmo, over a large ridge and drops into Green Timber Gulch and the South Cottonwood drainage. This trail is open to hiking, mountain biking, motorcyle riding and horseback riding.

At a Glance

Usage: Medium
Best Season: Summer and Fall
Busiest Season: July and August
Closest Towns: St. Elmo and Buena Vista, CO
Water: No
Restroom: No
Operated By: Salida Ranger District

General Information


From Nathrop, CO, (halfway between Salida and Buena Vista) on Hwy 285, turn onto County Road 162. Travel west on CR 162 for 16 miles to the historic townsite of St. Elmo. As you drive through St. Elmo, watch for a road on the right that travels over a small wooden bridge. Turn right on this road, crossing the bridge and then turn left and travel for .25 miles to the Tincup Pass access road (FR 267). This road travels steeply uphill for .25 miles to a road on the right which takes you to the Popular Gulch trailhead.


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


Mountain Biking

The Poplar Gulch trail is challenging  for beginners but is well worth the ride to the top. The trail traverses the ridge before dropping down along Green Timber Gulch and the South Cottonwood drainage.

Day Hiking

This trail travels from the historic townsite of St. Elmo to the South Cottonwood drainage. The trail is 5 miles in length and traverses a large ridge. The views from the ridge are breathtaking and a camera is a must on this trail. Mountain goats can be seen in spots along the ridgeline.

Status: Open
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

OHV Trail Riding

This trail is open to motorcycles and provides trail riders with one of the more challenging trails on the Salida Ranger District.

Portions of the trail are rocky with tight turns. This trail should be attempted by experience riders, only!

Status: Open
Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Difficult

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

The Poplar Gulch trail offers snowshoers and cross-country skiers an opportunity to view and experience one of the prettiest trails in the St. Elmo area.


Status: Open
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
5.3 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude :