Southeast of Salida, the 180 mile Rainbow Trail is open to dirt bike riding.
The best trailhead is about 11 miles south of Salida on SR285. To reach the trailhead this from Poncha Springs at US50, head south on US285 for 5 miles. There is limited trailhead parking alongside US285.
Alternately, for trucks with trailers, use the Silver Creek Trailhead which has more parking. To reach the Silver Creek Trailhead from Poncha Springs travel south on Hwy 285 for approximately 4.5 miles. Turn right onto County Road 200 and travel south for 2 miles to FDR 201. Continue on FDR 201 for about 5 miles and look for the parking area. It is not recommend to drive a truck and trailer past the parking area, as the road becomes very rough.
From these trailheads, there is a nice stretch running to the south. South of US285, the route starts with a steep climb with lots of switchbacks. There is not much water for the first 3 days of riding; the first water is at NFS Hayden Creek Campground. About 25 miles past Hayden, look for the trails up to the Sangre De Christo mountains, known for the alpine lakes.
Two other trailheads that are suitable for truck and trailer parking, although they have slightly smaller parking areas, are Bear Creek and Hayden Creek. To reach Bear Creek, travel approximately 2 miles east from Salida on Hwy 50. Watch carefully for the left turn onto CR 101. Take CR 101, south for 4.5 miles to the trailhead. A high clearance vehicle is required for the last 2 miles of the road. To reach Hayden Creek from Salida, travel 15 miles on Highway 50 east toward Canon City. Just outside of Coaldale, watch for signs indicating access to "Cuttys Resort" and Hayden Creek. Turn right at the signs and get on Fremont County Road 6. Stay on this road for 2 1/2 miles, passing Cuttys Resort and the Coaldale campground. The road will end at Hayden Creek Campground.
In the southern section of the trail, the largest trailhead parking area is at Horn Creek. To access the Horn Creek Trailhead, take Highway 69 south from Westcliffe to County Road 140 (Schoolfield Lane). Turn right on CR 140 and travel to CR 129 (Macey Lane). Turn left on CR 129 and travel to CR 130 (Horn Road). Turn right on CR130 and follow CR 130 till it ends at the Horn Creek Trailhead. Another popular starting point is the Music Pass/Grape Creek Trailhead. To reach this starting point, take Highway 69 south out of Westcliffe for 4.5 miles to County Road 119(Colfax Lane). Turn right onto CR 119 and follow it to the Grape Creek Trailhead. This road can be rough in spots, make sure not continue past where the Rainbow Trail intersects CR119, as the road becomes 4-wheel drive only. The Comanche / Venable trailhead is also suitable for horse trailers. Take Highway 69 south from Westcliffe to County Road 140 (Schoolfield Lane). Turn right on CR 140 and follow it to the Comanche / Venable Trailhead.
Note: The Alvarado Campground, known as one of the best on the trail, is currently closed for construction, but should re-open in May 2007. This campground will have 3 large horse sites, reservations are required. To reach the Alvarado Campsite, travel 3 miles south on State Hwy 69 from Westcliffe. Turn west onto County Rd. 140 and travel 7 miles to the campground.
If youre in the area, make sure to eat at the Alpine Lodge – its a great meal.
To reach the Lake Creek Campground from Westcliffe head north on SR69 for 11 miles to CR198. Head west on CR198 for 3 miles west to the campground. Campground has 11 campsites and is accessible by small RVs. It would still be possible to access the trail from the Alvarado Campground - it is in the northern part of the trail.
Note: Colorado residents must register their off-highway vehicle with the Colorado State Parks (303) 866-3437. Non-residents are not required to register in Colorado, if they are registered in their home states. All off-highway vehicles must have an approved muffler and spark arrester. These requirements are subject to change so make sure to contact the Colorado State Parks prior to using your off-highway vehicle.
Overall, Rainbow Trail is the 12th most popular dirt bike trail of all 93 dirt biking rides in Colorado.