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A lengthy hike from downtown Salida, heading straight up Cottonwood Gulch to an elevated viewpoint on Rumba Ridge.

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Out and Back

8,802' 2,683 m


7,042' 2,146 m


1,836' 560 m


1,836' 560 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (8°)

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Expect high-speed downhill mountain bike traffic.


The Cottonwood Trail provides a fantastic long-distance out-and-back hike from downtown Salida. In fact, the route shown here can even be extended if you're truly looking for long mileage. The Cottonwood Trail winds up a narrow gulch between towering hillsides, at times passing through narrow rock canyons, before culminating at an elevated viewpoint with spectacular views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and the Sawatch range.


Depart from the F-Street Bridge Trailhead by crossing the train tracks and looking for the signs for Rise-N-Shine. Take a right on Rise-n-Shine and follow the signs along the base of the hills to the Maybe trail. Take a left on Maybe and begin climbing steeply up the hillside.

Continue straight/uphill at the junctions with Rise-n-Shine, Sweet Dreams, and Backbone to reach the Cottonwood Trail. After passing the left turn to Unkle Nazty (and remaining on the Cottonwood Trail), there are no more trail junctions to worry about.

Now it's time to settle in and climb. While the trail is never steep, it gains elevation consistently as it winds up the bottom of the gulch. The trail crisscrosses the gulch, and if you're not looking for it, you might miss where the singletrack climbs out of the bottom of the wash. If you miss the trail, it's usually not a problem—you can often hike straight up the bottom of the wash if you so choose, although you'll encounter much rougher rocks and looser footing.

At a fork in the gulch, where a wide-open valley heads up and to the right, the trail continues up and left into a narrow canyon known as the Waterfall section. This is a steep, rocky section, but it's still fairly easy to get up, even if you need to use a hand on a rock here or there.

The Waterfall is over quickly, and the trail transforms into a smooth uphill with turns that swing back and forth across a gully. After a hard left turn, the trail zigzags uphill to reach the top of Rumba Ridge.

On top of Rumba Ridge, you'll receive a well-earned reward for your work: spectacular views of the Sangre De Cristo and Sawatch mountain ranges! This viewpoint is the marked turnaround.

However, if you haven't had enough yet, you can continue on Rumba and cross the road onto Beasway. The singletrack begins alternating between descents and climbs after passing the top of Rumba Ridge. From this point, it more or less rolls along the mountainside.

In total, there's another 3.5 miles of singletrack to reach the upper Cottonwood/Beasway parking lot, which would add an additional 7 miles to this out-and-back route, for a maximum distance of just over 19 miles.


Shared By:

Greg Heil

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 1 vote


  5.0 from 1 vote
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in Colorado


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Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 66 days ago
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