Cebolla Mesa to the Rio Grande
This hike is a short but steep scenic drop from the mesa down into the Rio Grande Gorge. As you descend, you go through several biomes; the trees change from piñon and juniper to blue spruce and Doug fir. You start with desert plants and end with plants that live along rivers. Add to this the great views and sounds of the river and you have a pleasant hike.
This hike connects to the nearby BLM Wild Rivers area.
|Hike data||Waypoints||Maps||Getting to the trailhead||About the hike||Plants along the trail||Comments|
When we hiked it:
|Time it took us:||2:38. Moving time 1:32.|
|Usage (people/hour):||0.76. We saw one couple while hiking. During boating season (spring), the usage might be higher.|
|CEBOLLACG||Campground||Carson National Forest Cebolla Mesa campground|
|CEBRGX1||Trail junction||Cebolla Mesa to Rio Grande jct to small river beach trail|
|Map name||Cartographer||Year||Scale||Topo map?||Online access||Notes|
|Carson National Forest||US Forest Service||2002||1:126720||N||from Amazon (purchase)||Camino Real and Questa ranger districts and Valle Vidal Unit side of the map|
|Guide to Indian Country of Arizona Colorado New Mexico Utah||Automobile Club of Southern California||1998||1:0||N||from Amazon (purchase)||Good overview road map for northwest NM. No scale is given on the map. The corner coordinates are approximate.|
|Wheeler Peak||BLM||2001||1:100000||Y||from Amazon (purchase)|
|Wildernesses of New Mexico||US Forest Service||1981||1:1000000||N||No online copies.||Base map with national forests, wilderness areas and highways.|
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Getting to the trailhead:
From Taos, head north on NM 522 (this highway starts out as US 64, but on the north edge of Taos, 64 goes left and 522 continues north). Between mile markers 15 and 16 you will see a sign about Forest Road 9 and Cebolla Mesa. Take Forest road 9 west (left) about 4 miles to the Cebolla Mesa campground. At the campground, the road splits. Take the left branch to the trailhead.
There is no sign along the road to indicate you have arrived at the campground. See the Cebolla Mesa campground web site for a photo of the campground entrance.
When we visited, the road had ruts indicating that it becomes slick and muddy when wet.
About the hike:
Just behind the trailhead, a sign indicates this is trail 102. About 20 paces down the trail, you encounter your first switchback. Be careful here, as another trail goes straight. It leads to a view point and a much steeper, old version of the trail. After you have made the switchback, this is the view you see.
You immediately get great views into the gorge. As you descend, they slowly change, always different, always interesting.
The trail is steep at times, so watch your step. Small gravel can be like ball bearings. Diana uses hiking poles on trails like this.
When we hiked, this large rock and a big tree had fallen across the trail. With care, you can cross on the remaining part of the trail.
As you descend, the views of the gorge change. If you look at the larger version of this picture, lust a little to the left of the center of the picture are two hills of basalt. The trail goes just to the right of these hills.
The trail has a lot of elevation change, and as a result, it has many switchbacks, such as the one you can see most of here.
Keep your eyes open for wildlife, such as this basalt-colored lizard. We heard several different birds, but did not identify them. The Rio Grande is an important migratory path, and as a result you are likely to see many different types.
In this photo, you can see the vault toilet for the BLM Wild Rivers campground. It is across the Red River from you, and where this trail description will end.
A bit more hiking, and you come to a T in the trail (GPS: CEBRGX1). If you go left, you get to this small beach along the river (whether or not it will be there when you arrive depends on the river level). We stopped and had lunch here. From the junction, the main trail goes right.
This trail goes to the confluence of the Red River and Rio Grande. Here you can see the Red River. Its unusual color comes from the Molycorp Mine.
If you cross this bridge, you will be in the BLM Wild Rivers campground. The BLM Wild Rivers area has a network of 22 miles of trails, some of which will be showing up on ExploreNM as we have time to collect the data and get it up.
Plants we saw along the trail:
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