Here’s a little history:

Before Salida Mountain Trails even existed, some pioneers were building trails in the area. Below is an early trail map of the area, made by “Cactus” Jack Chivvis. This map includes the Sunset Trail (parts of which are being incorporated into the Rusty Lung trail):

It was even written up in a special Mountain Mail insert back in 1988: (click to zoom)

The end quote is classic. Thanks to “Cactus” Jack Chivvis for sending us these clips!

As for Salida Mountain Trails’s history as an organization, it begins a bit more recently:

April 2004 The Bureau of Land Management declared their intent to conduct travel management in our area starting in 2005. Salida Mountain Trails called a meeting of concerned citizens to discuss. John Nahomenuk from BLM spoke to this meeting.

August 2004 The Bureau of Land Management moved up the date that they intended to start the TMP process. Their trails inventory process was underway by this time.

October 2004 The Bureau of Land Management held its first public meeting to discuss the Arkansas River TMP on October 6, 2004. Following the presentation portion of this meeting, Salida Mountain Trails members discussed with BLM personnel their wish to discuss the routes being evaluated, to have a chance to address problems with routes rather than seeing them closed, and the idea that a system of proposed trails could be evaluated as part of the Travel Management Process. Incidentally, a fledgling bike club which came to be known as South Central Racing had their initial public meeting on Monday, October 11, 2004 in the basement of Bongo Billy’s Salida Cafe.

March 2005 Salida Mountain Trails submitted the Salida Mountain Trails Park Proposal, which was a document defining our basic plan for a stacked loop system of trails and offering a commitment to maintain trails indefinitely.

August 2005 BLM holds second public meeting to discuss their trails analysis process, introducing the concept of desired future conditions, discussing areas of critical environmental concern (ACECs). November 2005 Dave Walker comes to Salida City Council meeting, Salida Mountain Trails also presents.

April 2006 Salida Mountain Trails starts and finishes a trail on City of Salida property on the east side of Tenderfoot Mountain. The BLM TMP process is in a prolonged period of delay.

June 2007 BLM conducts its 3rd public meeting to present the 3 alternative plans and to describe the process by which public input would help in the selection of an alternative to implement.

December 2007 The Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is signed and the waiting periods for final plan implementation begin.

January 2008 The first waiting period, 30 days for public protest, was completed with no protests.

February 2008 The mandated 60-day review period for governors consistency ended February 19, 2008. When BLM followed up to verify no comments were forthcoming, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requested more time to review the Final EA. Salida Mountain Trails submitted a first projects’ corridor to BLM for review and analysis.

May 2008 Salida Mountain Trails is awarded a $4,500 tools grant by Colorado State Parks. Process of tool purchasing begins.

June 2008 New trail proposal submitted to City of Salida to build a section of singletrack from the Tenderfoot Hill gate to an intersection with the proposed Backbone trail. Proposal approved and plans move forward to construct a new mile+ long section. BLM Travel Management Plan nears implementation. First project trail corridor analysis is on a fast track. Barring any difficulty, the singletrack section that will be built this summer on City property will be extended on for several miles into BLM starting about the time the City section is complete.

September 2008 Construction on a new trail on City of Salida property behind Tenderfoot Hill is under way. This trail will link the parking area near the Spiral Drive gate to the proposed backbone trail. BLM is currently evaluating a plan for the first section of the backbone trail. All indications are that the project will be approved in the next several weeks.

November 2008 We break ground on our first trail on BLM, the Backbone. As the name implies, this trail will be a foundation of the stacked loop system envisioned for the Arkansas Hills side of Salida.

February 2009 Salida Mountain Trails volunteers complete the Backbone Trail from County Road 173 to the Sand Dunes Trail. Work begins on the 2nd segment of the ‘Lil Rattler Trail, from the backside of Tenderfoot Hill to County Road 173.

March 2009 A link is built between the Backbone Trail and the Tenderfoot Trail, completed by SMT in April of 2006.

April 2009 The City of Salida hires the Southwest Conservation Corps to build the Backbone Trail from Sand Dunes Trail to Cottonwood.

May 2009 The ‘Lil Rattler Trail and Backbone to Cottonwood are completed. A kiosk with trail map and other information is erected at the parking lot on Spiral Drive.

June 2009 Work begins on the Frontside Trail, across the front of Tenderfoot Hill from the kiosk down to the Duke’s Grave trailhead.

July 2009 SMT joins SPOT, the Salida Open Space and Trails 501c3 non-profit organization.

August 2009 Work begins on the Burning Arrow Trail, from the Burn Pile to an intersection with the Frontside Trail.

October 2009 Both Frontside and Burning Arrow trails are completed.

April 2010 The IMBA Regional Summit takes place at the SteamPlant in Salida. SMT attendees have a unique opportunity to attend presentations on trail building and share ideas with representatives of mountain bike organizations from around the state.

May 2010 The Upper Sand Dunes Trail reroute is completed by SCC trail crews. The reroute is immediately popular and expands the use of the trail.

June 2010 SMT purchases a tools trailer, simplifying storage and transportation of tools for trail building events.

June 2010 The North Backbone Trail is started with a VOC (Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado) weekend. Approximately 1/2 mile of the south end of the trail is completed.

August 2010 The Homerun Pump Track is completed, and a Grand Opening ceremony features demonstrations by local pumpers.

October 2010 The Pauli and Uncle Nazty trail reroutes are completed by SCC trail crews.

October 2010 The Little Rainbow Trail on the Methodist Mountain side of Salida is begun. Arrowhead Trails starts roughing in a machine-built route, and the BLM constructs a parking lot at each end of the trail.

December 2010 The North Backbone Trail is completed, and a Grand Opening ceremony is held at the northern terminus with speeches and the installation of a kiosk to hold maps and information.

February 2011 The Little Rainbow Trail is completed, and another Grand Opening ceremony highlights the completion. The trail was completed with the help of SCC trail crews and local volunteers.

May 2011 The Mountain States Cup races are held on the Arkansas Hills Trail System, the first time a regional mountain bike series uses SMT – designed trails.

May 2011 The Chili Pepper Trails are started in the newly-acquired Arkansas Hills Open Space. Buena Vista Correctional Facility crews do the majority of the work, grant or municipal money pays for 4 days of SCC time, and students from a Pueblo Upward Bound program help with finishing.

June 2011 The Prospector Trail reroute is completed by SCC trail crews.

June 2011 A proposal is received from the City of Salida for SMT to build a trail on the south side of the Vandeveer property, connecting the BLM Racetrack/Lost Trail trailhead to CR 108. Design work begins.

April 2012 Work begins on a 2.6 mile extension of the Little Rainbow Trail aka “Little Rainbow West” or “Double Rainbow.” Work was completed in November 2012.

September 2012 Work begins on the new Columbine trail – which provides 2.5 miles of new single track from the Rainbow Trail to the Forest Service gate on CR101. Work was completed in October 2013.

<we have a bit of a gap here and are working to complete the information on this page>

December 2016 Chicken Dinner trail is completed. During construction, the crew found several barely legible, embossed, rusty steel signs, one of which was for the Chicken Dinner candy bar roll, a product of the the marketing folks at Sperry Candy Co., circa 1920s. Here’s an example advertisement sign:

The Chicken Dinner moniker was thought to evoke the full-belly satisfaction of a hearty dinner. This nut roll candy bar enjoyed 40 years of popularity and was essentially the precursor to modern energy bars. The Chicken Dinner name was then adopted as the new official trail name.

August 2017 – Rusty Lung trail begins construction. This project resurrects a portion of the historic Sunset trail, one of the oldest sections of single track on S-mtn, which ties back to the late 1980’s. Although half of the original Sunset trail disappeared in private property, the other half is still accessible and will be reshaped into an interesting mix of sustainable new style & old-school trail. The name “Rusty Lung” is a nod to two of the original Salida mountain biking pioneers; Mike Rust and Don McClung. Local artist, Jack Chivvis, came up with the original name and the new one. See the top of this page for a great read on the history of this trail.