In Salida CO’s backyard, you will find an amazing year-round trail system. From town, it doesn’t look like much but when out on the trails and you will find rock formations, sand, cliff overhangs & panoramic views of the Collegiates west of Salida, CO.

With so many trail options, there is a trail for everyone!


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It’s Spring in Colorado and the temperature here feels like the beginning of summer. Not a speck of snow anywhere. North Backbone Trail was the longest trail we found close to town on the Arkansas Hills Trail System Map.

We soon realized Salida was going to be a great destination to start the spring season!

Just a few other hikers about, the Trailhead was well marked, and we found easy parking. A single-track trail leading to what we found later to be many unexpected surprises along the way.



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Twists, turns, rocks, and views were around every bend. Certainly more than expected when we first started out on an open rocky hillside among pinion and pine trees.

You will go around one bend and be in deep shade among tall boulders. Then head up the trail in brilliant sunlight and wrap-around views of high peaks.

We lingered on quite a few rock croppings, leaning against the boulders, soaking up the sun.




As always it was a Colorado Day with unexpected temperatures. What felt warm in the late morning turned quite cool when the wind moved more frequently as the afternoon sun lowered.

North Backbone Trail ends at 3.2 miles and combines with several other trails. At this point, you can keep going and do more trails or head back. Our hike was an out and back about 7.5 miles total.

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North Backbone Trail connects with various other trails within the Arkansas Hills Trails System AKA Tenderfoot Trails which is easily accessed from town. In spring, this area seems to stay sunny and snow-free.


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Arkansas Hills Trail System is known for its single-track. An extremely popular area for mountain biking.

Looking for more solitude, try coming in spring!

For a great resource to the endless outdoor opportunities in Salida, CO, and surrounding Chaffee County check out their Chamber of Commerce

Trekking poles come in handy. Our favorites are Hiker Hunger Poles >>> CLICK HERE for a peek.

First Aid Kit – essential on every hike!

Nathan Hydration Backpack – I use this for shorter get outside and hike days.

Electrolytes – Add to your water & keep hydrated for hours. 


7.6 miles out & back

Rated: moderate

No restroom


Mountain Biking

Horseback Riding

Nearest Town: Salida, CO

Arkansas Hills Trail System

Rocky. loose gravel


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20 Day Hikes in Colorado’s Backcountry!

Can't wait to see you on the trail!

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