Like to hike, bike and run? Río Grande Trail grows by 34 miles in Taos County

The Río Grande Gorge as seen north of Wild Rivers along a newly designated portion of the Río Grande Trail, which boosters hope to one day be a 500-mile long trail through the state of New Mexico. (Photo by Cody Hooks)
The dream of a world-class trail that meanders through New Mexico along the Río Grande is a little closer to reality.

The state commission charged with creating the Río Grande Trail officially added about 34 miles of existing paths in Taos County to the map during its meeting in Taos Tuesday (Sept. 25).

After Tuesday’s decision, the Río Grande Trail now has a sizable length of continuous trail, which translates into new ways to “market a long-distance hiking opportunity we haven’t had up to date,” said commission chair Ken McQueen, who is also the cabinet secretary for the the state-level Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

Since most of the trail runs through the Río Grande del Norte National Monument, commissioners called this section the “del Norte” part of the trail, which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The parts added to the Río Grande Trail Tuesday include the about 23 miles of East Rim Trail in the wide-open, rugged and isolated areas around Ute Mountain. This portion starts at the Colorado state line and wraps around the western side of Ute Mountain. The “trail” is mostly a double-track road, which will stay open to vehicle use. The two other sections of trails include 3.6 miles of the Red River Fault Trail and the Pescado Trail, both located near the national monument visitors center outside of Cerro.

Commissioners also added 7 miles of trails that are managed by the State Land Office. According to Christy Tafoya, vice-chair of the commission, the energy department entered into right-of-way agreements with the land office to bring these sections “under the purview of the Río Grande Trail,” meaning they too will be managed by the BLM.

In May, the commission added 26.5 miles of existing paths in the monument, including Las Vistas de Questa Trail, River Trail and the Rinconada Loop Trail, to the Río Grande Trail.

John Bailey, manager of the Río Grande del Norte National Monument, said his office is in conversation with the Carson National Forest to rebuild a bridge across the Red River at the Wild Rivers Recreation Area, an essential link in the Río Grande Trail. McQueen said that project “represents the best of cooperative federalism.”

The Rio Grande Trail needs your thoughts and knowledge of local trails. A “virtual open house” ends Oct. 5. The website walks people through the idea and design of the trail so far, and gives folks a chance to help shape the 500- mile trail. So far, the average age of a respondent is 68. But it’s a trail that will undoubtedly get used by the up-and-coming outdoors generation. Consultants are asking younger folks, even those who aren’t millennials, to participate. Visit: