Continental Divide Trail - Monarch Crest

This portion of CDT starts at a high elevation and continues south from Monarch Pass for 11.5 miles to Marshall Pass. The trail boasts little elevation gain and through hikers and mountain bikers will enjoy a break from the strenous climbs of other sections of the trail. The trail is closed by winter snow from November until June.

This trail is also one of the most popular mountain biking routes in the State of Colorado. Motorcycles are also allowed on this trail but ATV's and other four-wheel drive vehicles are prohibited.

At a Glance

Usage: Medium-Heavy
Best Season: Summer and Fall
Busiest Season: Summer
Closest Towns: Salida, CO
Water: No
Restroom: No
Operated By: Salida Ranger District

General Information


From Poncha Springs, travel west on Highway 50 for 18 miles to the top of Monarch Pass (elevation 11,386 feet). From the parking lot at the Monarch Crest store, look for a dirt road that travel east from behind the gondola building for the Monarch Tramway. Take this road a short distance until it intersects with the trail located on the right side of the road.


Parking is available at the Monarch Crest on the pass summit.


Mountain Biking

The Crest Trail, as it know locally, is one of the most popular mountain biking trails in Colorado. The trail is short, only 11.5 miles from the Monarch Crest to Marshall Pass.

Weekend traffic is heaviest with mountain bikers. To avoid the crowds try riding during the week. Late season snow will delay opening of the trail until late June or early July. Please practice trail courtesy and watch for other users!

Day Hiking

This section of the Continental Divide Trail offers hikers some of the most gorgeous views of both sides of the Divide. The trail is an easy hike from the Monarch Crest to Marshall Pass...a distance of 11.5 miles.

This is also a popular mountain bike trail and hikers should listen for the sound of approaching bikes and be ready to step off of the trail. Mountain biking activity is heaviest during weekends.

Status: Open
Difficulty Level: Easy to Intermediate


Backpackers traveling through on the Continental Divide Trail will love this relatively easy portion of the trail. Only 11.5 miles from the Monarch Crest to the Marshall Pass trailhead. Please camp at least 100 feet off of the trail. Weather can be extreme at this elevation so watch for approaching thunderstorms and lightning.

Status: Open
Difficulty Level: Easy to Intermediate

Horse Riding

This stretch of the Continental Divide Trail is a great ride and offers riders a chance to see for miles along the Divide. Riders should be aware that this trail is a busy one for mountain biking enthusiasts, as well as, motorcycles, so be prepared to move off of the trail.

This section of trail travels south to Marshall Pass and is 11.5 miles in length.

Difficulty Level: Easy

OHV Trail Riding

The Crest Trail is open to motorcycles. ATV's are prohibited on this trail. The trail can be accessed either from Monarch Pass or Marshall Pass. The trail is 11.5 miles in length and is a great scenery ride with views from the top of the Continental Divide.

Motorcyclists should be aware that this is a heavily used trail. Please practice trail courtesy by watching your speed!

Difficulty Level: Easy

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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