3 miles
Distance
36 ft
Climb
-915 ft
Descent
00:21:19
Avg time
Trail Supporters, Builders & Maintainers of Cottonwood Trail

Cottonwood Details

  • Activities
    • Mountain Bike
    • Hike
    • Trail Running
  • Riding Area
    Arkansas Hills Trails
    Salida, Colorado
  • Difficulty Rating
  • Trail Type
    Singletrack
  • Bike Type
    DH, AM, XC
  • Trail Usage
    Multi-use
  • Direction
    Downhill Primary
    Popular direction shown
  • Climb Difficulty
    Green
  • Physical Rating
    Hard
  • Season
    Apr - Dec
  • Dogs Allowed
    Yes
  • eBike Allowed
  • TTFs on Trail
    Drop
  • Global Ranking
    #2669 in Mountain Biking
  • Local Popularity
    100 in Mountain Biking [+]
    • 5 in Trail Running
    • 5 in Hiking
  • Land Manager

Cottonwood is a classic Salida trail that dates back to some of the pioneers of mountain biking. It has to be one of the better technical downhills in the area.
It has recently had the upper portion rerouted to avoid areas that the Forrest Service deemed sensitive. There may be additional reroutes in the future.

Cottonwood now starts at the intersection of CR 175 and CR 181. The trail takes off from the parking lot, across the drainage. You make your way up and around a big hill on newly cut trail. It is fun and somewhat flowy with a few punchy climbs. Take a minute for the massive views before you had down some fun switchbacks and in and out of a drainage. Soon you will climb out of the drainage and up a little climb to CR 173. Head downhill on CR 173. The road climbs pretty steeply up some turns until it is on the top of the ridge. Once it turns downhill again, take the opportunity to rest and get a little air off the rocks that litter the rough road. Keep an eye out for the trail to take off to the left and get ready to lose some elevation quickly. The trail is rough, rocky, and loose with a few small drops thrown in. This is "Rattlesnake Ridge" so do keep an eye out for snakes sunning on the dark red rocks.
Once you hit the bottom of Cottonwood Gulch, catch your breath and be ready for some rough, rocky, sometimes sandy downhill. There are several waterfall sections with some drops to flat and tight lines. Do your best to float over the many rock gardens and chunky bits. Towards the bottom the trail opens up some and gets a little smoother. You will pass the Prospector trail taking off to the right. Keep ripping downhill and you'll see the Backbone taking off to the right. You can continue down the drainage a little further until you see a trail heading to the left and up, out of the drainage. This will get you to Sweetwater or the mesa trail if you'd like to extend you ride. Otherwise Backbone to Sand Dunes or Prospector to Sand Dunes are quicker ways back to town.

Access Info

Take CR 175 to the Upper Cottonwood Trailhead. Access begins on the Salsa Trail (new) which has a seasonal closure from Dec 15th to March 15th. Salsa Trail continues to Rumba Trail (also new) which eventually hooks into Cottonwood Trail. The parking lot is right there. This is one of the few shuttle-able trails in the area if you are so inclined. Since much of the trail is higher elevation and much in drainages, snow and ice can become issues in the winter. Occasional heavy rains in the summer can drastically change the trail in the drainages. Do not get caught in a flash flood.

More Stats for Cottonwood bike trail
  • Altitude change
    -879 ft
  • Altitude min
    7,481 ft
  • Altitude max
    8,360 ft
  • Altitude start
    8,360 ft
  • Altitude end
    7,481 ft
  • Grade
    -6.11%
  • Grade max
    -27.386%
  • Grade min
    12.001%
  • Distance climb
    938 ft
  • Distance down
    3 miles
  • Distance flat
    118 ft
  • Avg time
    00:21:19
  • Avg reverse time
    01:00:39
  • view trail stats
Status:
on Sep 27, 2019
Dry
Avg: 4.65 (15 votes)

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Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Groomed
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
Trail Ridden Direction
Trailforks scans users ridelogs to determine the most popular direction each trail is ridden. A good flowing trail network will have most trails flowing in a single direction according to their intension.
The colour categories are based on what percentage of riders are riding a trail in its intended direction.
  • > 96%
  • > 90%
  • > 80%
  • > 70%
  • > 50%
  • < 50%
Trail Last Ridden
Trailforks scans ridelogs to determine the last time a trail was ridden.
  • < 2 days
  • < 1 week
  • < 2 weeks
  • < 1 month
  • < 6 months
  • > 6 months
Trail Ridden Direction
The intended direction a trail should be ridden.
  • Downhill Only
  • Downhill Primary
  • Both Directions
  • Uphill Primary
  • Uphill Only
  • One Direction
ContributeDetails
Colors indicate trail is missing specified detail.
  • Description
  • Photos
  • Description & Photos
  • Videos
Trail Popularity ?
Trailforks scans ridelogs to determine which trails are ridden the most in the last 9 months. Trails are compared with nearby trails in the same city region with a possible 25 colour shades. Think of this as a heatmap, more rides = more kinetic energy = warmer colors.
  • most popular
  • popular
  • less popular
  • not popular

LEGEND
Trail Difficulties
  • Access Road/Trail
  • White
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Black
  • Double Black Diamond

Trail Report Status
  • Clear / Green
  • Minor Issue / Yellow
  • Significant Issue / Amber
  • Closed

  • Land Owner Overlay
  • Wilderness (typically no bikes in USA)
  • BLM (public)
  • USFS (Wildlife sanctuaries darker than usfs)
  • State land
  • Indigenous
  • Military
Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Groomed
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
  • Map Markers
  • trail Trail Head
  • photo Photo
  • place Directory Listing
  • region Riding Area
  • TTF TTF
  • Parking Parking
  • Viewpoint Viewpoint
  • Information Information
  • Warning Warning
  • Directions Directions
  • Sight Sight
  • Restrooms Restrooms
  • eBike Charging Point eBike Charging Point
  • Water Fountain/Source Water Fountain/Source
  • Gate Gate
  • Trail Sign Trail Sign
  • Table or Bench Table or Bench
  • Ladder Ladder
  • Stairs Stairs
  • Bridge Bridge
  • Camping Camping
  • Cabin Cabin
  • Lodge Lodge
  • Bear Cache Bear Cache
  • Dock Dock
  • Ranger Station Ranger Station
  • Summit Summit
  • Other Other
      Directions to cottonwood-13992 trailhead (38.568460, -105.948329)
      update trails status or condition

      Cottonwood Trail Reports

      statusdatedescription
      Sep 27, 2019 @ 9:58am
      Sep 27, 2019
      reporter Trail was washed out in a few spots, but overall in great condition. I found the washouts a minor issue, but apparently it's not up to SMT standards.
      Sep 7, 2019 @ 12:03pm
      Sep 7, 2019
      Mostly destroyed. All washed out after thunderstorms on 4. September.
      Jun 21, 2019 @ 5:20pm
      Jun 21, 2019
      May 18, 2019 @ 8:14am
      May 18, 2019
      Apr 7, 2018 @ 5:57pm
      Apr 7, 2018
      Dry as a bone!
      view all reports »

      Recent Ridelog Activity on Trail

      Past Week
      • 2 rides
      • 16 miles avg distance
      6 Months
      • 230 rides
      • 17 miles avg distance
      All
      • 370 rides
      •  

      Photos

      more »
      115 |
      Apr 17, 2018 @ 10:46am
      Apr 17, 2018
      128 |
      Mar 11, 2018 @ 5:47pm
      Mar 11, 2018
      79 |
      May 22, 2017 @ 8:09pm
      May 22, 2017
      91 |
      May 22, 2017 @ 8:08pm
      May 22, 2017

      Routes with this trail

      titleratingdistance
      Cottonwood Tour featured
      22 miles

      3 Reviews & Comments

      • + 1
      flag lubes17319 (Sep 25, 2016 at 11:21)
       High-speed bl'ast: some flowy parts & some parts right down a dry crikbed.
      [Reply]
      • + 0
      flag Mntneer (May 22, 2018 at 9:14)
       As 1qqqqddd we
      [Reply]
      • + 0
      flag dirtcandy (Apr 3, 2019 at 20:22)
       The description is a little outdated. It is now singletrack all the way from the trailhead, no longer need to ride on 173.
      [Reply]

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      Videos

      more »
      youtuber We rode two different shuttles in a day!...
      11:35 | 196 | Aug 23, 2018 , Salida
      Rumba, Cottonwood, Sweat Dreams, Chicken...
      5:16 | 21 | Aug 14, 2019 , Salida
      Cottonwood sections
      0:18 | 253 | Jul 29, 2016 , Salida
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