This segment of the trail leads 12.3 miles north from Bear Creek to Mears Junction. The trail is open to foot, horse and motorcycle traffic. Camping is permitted at undeveloped sites along the trail. Water may not be available from Bear Creek to Hwy. 285 during dry periods.
The scenery is outstanding with excellent views of the Upper Arkansas Valley looking northward to Leadville and Colorado's highest peaks along the Sawatch Range. Methodist Mountain Road, County Road 108, passes through private land above the trail and is not open to the public beyond that point. The trail from Methodist Mtn road westward does not appear on the US Forest Service map. However the trail is well maintained and easy to follow.
Directions from Salida: Bear Creek: Follow Highway 50 2 miles east of Salida to County Road 101. Turn right on to 101 and follow it to the end. (The road is rough toward the end and high clearance vehicles are recommended.) The RainbowTrail is accessible from the end of 101.
Directions from Salida: Methodist Mountain: From Salida take County Road 107 south to County Road 108. County Road 108 is a very rough forest road for 1.5 miles to the trail crossing. It is recommended for high clearance vehicles.
Directions from Hwy 285: Hwy 285: The Rainbow Trail crosses US Hwy 285 about 5 miles south of Poncha Springs. Parking space limited.
Directions from Methodist Mountain: Methodist Mountain: At Salida take CR 107 south to CR 108. CR 108 is very rough forest road for 1.5 miles to the trail crossing. CR 108 is recommended for high clearance vehicles.
Late May through Mid-October .