Trail Stewards

CENTRAL COLORADO HAS BECOME a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and is known for being welcoming and accommodating — a necessity of embracing a tourist economy. The Upper Arkansas Valley has a reputation for being home to some of the most beautiful, unsullied landscapes in the state. Arriving at trailheads, visitors and locals tuck their vehicles …

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About the Cover Photographer: Tom Purvis

Salida resident Tom Purvis is one of the three founding members of Salida Mountain Trails, begun nearly 10 years ago. He was the director of SMT from 2007 through 2009. He has been working as a volunteer, doing trail maintenance and advocacy, for almost 20 years. Tom is a lifelong cyclist, having ridden his first century ride (100 miles) as a ten-year-old. He’s been mountain biking for 25 years.

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Rocks Along the Rainbow

By Vince Matthews

The Rainbow Trail affords an outstanding opportunity to travel through deep time. The trail wends around two of Colorado’s youngest mountain ranges, which together contain 25 of the State’s 58 Fourteeners. The footpath traverses parts of Earth’s crust that record much of Colorado’s 2-billion-year-old history. Faults and folds along the trail record times of crustal deformation. Rocks that were metamorphosed 1.8 billion years ago record Colorado’s oldest-known, mountain-building event. Colorful conglomerates record the 300-million-year-old mountain-building event that gave rise to the Ancestral Rocky Mountains. The high elevations of the Sawatch and Sangre de Cristo Ranges are testaments to the mountain-building event that is currently transpiring. Glacial deposits along the trail record times of great climate change.

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Memories from the Rainbow Trail

By Hal Walter

Back in the day, my friend Paul and I would head out before light from the BackEdge cabin which he owns at the Gibson Creek Trailhead on the Rainbow Trail. We’d hike northward on the Rainbow in the autumn moonlight reflecting on the skiff of snow, through the big open meadow and then into the forest’s edge, where the moon threw shadows of aspen, pine and fir out onto the blueish-white ground, and just over the low ridge where the rush of Swift Creek filled the air.

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Somewhere on the Rainbow

The Central Colorado region is fat with backcountry trails. From the Collegiate Range, the Sawatch, the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Area, White River National Forest, the West Elks and much more, there is no lack of recreational opportunities for hikers, cyclists and horseback riders.

So why this month are we featuring the Rainbow Trail? Well, for one, it’s historic, having been around for over a century. It spans a large part of our coverage area, second only to the Colorado Trail. In parts, it is mostly accessible to a large percentage of the population and sees thousands of visitors each year. The Rainbow is also the closest national forest trail to my home here in Salida.

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