Elevation Start9,506
Elevation End8,559
CharacterSingletrack, some of Colorado’s very finest. The short, sharp climbs
will be inflicting pain by this point in the Vapor Trail.

Now it will be time to ride a nearly 11-mile section of the venerable Rainbow Trail. This section starts at the western terminus of the nearly 200 mile Rainbow Trail. The other end of the Rainbow Trail is near Blanca Peak, east of Alamosa, CO.

This bit of trail will be the last dirt and singletrack of the Vapor Trail 125. The section ends where the trail drops into the Canyon where highway US 285 is routed.

At the Rainbow Trail trailhead you will find Aid Station #5, aka “the Dinty Moore station”.

The rainbow is an up and down trail. A local favorite, but most locals know how much more fun it is with a pair of fresh legs underneath. There are places along this trail where a rider can pedal up to a good swift speed and then carry that speed through dips and curves, around ridge faces and up into gulches. Ah, the Rainbow…

The trailbed of the Rainbow generally stays between 8,500 and 10,000 feet elevation. The Rainbow is comonly thought of as a trail system found on the east slope of the northern Sangre de Cristo Range. Methodist Mountain is often considered the farthest northern peak of the Sangre de Cristo Range, but it is east of this bit, and on the other side of Poncha Pass.

The Rainbow passes along the northern face of Methodist, then continues east and south toward Westcliffe and then on toward La Veta.

The mountainside that much of this trail runs along is Porphyry Peak (11,586 ft). From the beginning of the Vapor Trail 125 course to Marshall Pass all was clearly in the Sawatch Range. South of Marshall Pass we begin to enter the Cochetopa Hills. I’m not sure whether Porphyry Peak would be considered part of the Sawatch, part of the Cochetopa Hills, or part of the Sangre de Cristo.

The high ground around Porphyry Peak separates the Silver Creek Drainage from the town of Bonanza, the Bonanza Mining District, and the tributaries of Kerber Creek, which flows south out of Bonanza. Kerber Creek joins other drainages moving water south through the San Luis Valley. These creeks flow into a closed basin north of Alamosa, but they add ground water to a rich aquifer that adds to the flow of the Rio Grande.