This section heads north around Methodist Mountain with big mountain views close to town. It's in and out of drainages with rocks, roots, nice climbs, and rewarding descents.
It is not common to hike the entire trail between Highway 285 and Bear Creek (County Rd 101) all at once. The more popular section is between County Rd 108 and Bear Creek (County Rd 101).
The most common way to approach this trail is by heading east from Salida on Highway 50 and turning right (south) onto County Rd 101. This is referred to as Bear Creek. This transitions to County Rd 49. Continue to the end of the dirt road and the Bear Creek trailhead.
Head west on the singletrack towards County Rd 108 (Methodist Mountain Trailhead) and Hwy 285. You'll pass the Columbine Trail that heads downhill and back to the parking lot by the cattle guard you passed on your route up to the trailhead. Once you hit County Rd 108, you can head down it back to town or to the Little Rainbow
for more hiking.
Some hikers will continue towards Hwy 285 and down the Sand Gulch doubletrack to Double Rainbow. Some but not many continue west until they hit Hwy 285. West of County Rd 108, there are many steep ups and downs that are often torn up by motorcycle use. The grades get steeper and you may find the footing to be tricky in spots.
It is possible to start at the Hwy 285 trailhead and hike eastward. The climb up Poncha Mountain is brutal and filled with technical footing. Make sure you bring plenty of food and water.