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02 September 2020

E-Mountain Biking the Monarch Crest Trail

Riding Colorado’s favorite trail with Shimano STEPS

Santa Cruz Heckler Shimano STEPS


The Monarch Crest Trail is a bucket list adventure for all kinds of mountain bikers. The high-alpine, IMBA Epic trail is one of Colorado's most iconic and popular routes with breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains and a mix of singletrack, doubletrack, and fire roads. The trail is open to e-mountain bikes, so riders can experience the exciting and fun trail with a little extra boost for the high-altitude rolling terrain and steep kickers toward the bottom.


Monarch Pass Colorado


The Monarch Crest Trail is located just outside Salida and Poncha Springs, two small Colorado mountain towns that welcome mountain bikers, kayakers, and outdoor adventurers of all kinds to town each summer. The trail starts on top of Monarch Pass, which is part of the Continental Divide and tops out at 11,312 feet. Being so high up in the Rockies, the Monarch Crest Trail is only ridable for about 4-5 months each year, depending on the snowfall from the previous winter and how early the snow comes in the fall. 


E mountain biking Colorado


Most riders choose to shuttle the Monarch Crest Trail to avoid a long road climb to the top of Monarch Pass. In the summer, shuttle services are available from Salida or Poncha Springs that drop riders off at the top to maximize the fun. With an e-mountain bike, the 20-mile climb to Monarch Pass's top is certainly more manageable, but a shuttle will get you there faster and keep you fresher for the thrilling ride to the bottom.  


Santa Cruz Heckler eMTB


Known for its mix of flowy and rugged terrain, much of which sits above treeline, the Monarch Crest Trail offers expansive views to the east and west along the Continental Divide. The trail drops nearly 6,000 feet over 36 miles and has some challenging uphill sections as well. Riders will want to start the ride early to avoid afternoon thunderstorms that regularly roll through this area. This trail is real backcountry riding, so be prepared with lots of water, snacks, and rain gear.


Colorado MTB


The trail starts with a short section of fire road that quickly leads to singletrack that meanders through the trees and opens to views of the mountains and valleys to the west. As the trail winds along the ridgeline, be sure to take some deep breaths; the Monarch Crest tops trail tops out at just over 12,000 feet in elevation where the air is very thin.


Shimano STEPS


Eventually, the Monarch Crest Trail points downward and riders are in for a technical, rocky, and loose singletrack section. The trail rolls along in places with some tough climbs and short kickers that will leave your legs burning by the end of the ride. An e-MTB helps flatten these sections out so you can finish strong despite the 2,000+ feet of climbing on this mostly downhill trail. 


Shimano STEPS


The Monarch Crest Trail is a must-do ride for anyone traveling through Colorado. The scenic trail offers spectacular views and mixed terrain that is challenging for many riders, but made much more manageable for those not used to the elevation with a STEPS powered e-bike. With the assist of the Heckler, or any other STEPS equipped eMTB, the lung-busting steep climbs at altitude become a little less daunting and you’re able to take in the scenery and truly enjoy your time on the trail.