This year, an estimated 10,000 recreationalists will utilize the Arkansas Hills and Methodist Mountain trail systems near Salida. Singletracks.com selected Salida’s trails as the number five spot on its “Top 10 Mountain Bike Destinations in North America.” The January edition of Elevation Outdoors featured Salida for its year-round mountain biking possibilities. Given the weather and quality of riding, the growing popularity of Salida trails is no surprise; the shock is that most trails did not exist 10 years ago. Locals and visitors who ride the trails, and business owners who benefit from the increased tourism the trails bring, all have Salida Mountain Trails (SMT) to thank.
“I was at a party one night with my cousin Nathan (Ward), and Yvonne Barnes,” recalled Tom Purvis over a beer. “There was a rumor goin’ around that the BLM was updating their Travel Management Plan (TMP). So we were like, Tthis is our chance to do something.’” The next day Purvis contacted Shawn Gillis, owner of Absolute Bikes. Soon others like Tony Boone, owner of Tony Boone Trails LLC, began to get involved as planners and mentors to the groups, and the organization that would become Salida Mountain Trails was born. Their original mission was to protect use on the few trails that existed, namely unsustainable “bootleg” versions of Sand Dunes and Lost Trails. A few months later, Purvis remembers getting a call from Ward with the idea to shift the focus from protecting a few trails to “telling them what we want.” and working to create new trails.