Narrows Rim Trail
This hike gives you a very different view of the lava flows that make up El Malpais than most hikes---you are 500 ft above them and looking down. You also get a great view of La Ventana Arch. Hike this hike for the views. You will not be sorry.
|Hike data||Waypoints||Maps||Getting to the trailhead||About the hike||Plants along the trail||Comments|
When we hiked it:
|Time it took us:||4:29.|
|Usage (people/hour):||0.00. We saw footprints and dog pawprints, but saw nobody.|
|Cleanliness:||9. Most of the few pieces of litter we found were near the picnic area at the trailhead.|
|NARROWSTH||Trailhead||Narrow Rim trailhead|
|Map name||Cartographer||Year||Scale||Topo map?||Online access||Notes|
|El Malpais Recreation Map and Guide||BLM||2008||1:100000||Y||from Amazon (purchase)||Great overview map for El Malpais area, including showing land ownership.|
|Geologic Map of El Malpais Lava Field and Surrounding Areas, Cibola County, NM||USGS (Charles Maxwell)||1986||1:62500||Y||No online copies.||For sale at the three visitor centers (NPS, BLM, Northern NM) around El Malpais.|
|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.|
|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:
Take I-40 to exit 89 to take NM 117 south from the interstate. After several miles, you come to the BLM El Malpais visitor center. After stopping at the visitor center if needed, continue south on 117. Pass the trailheads for the Acoma-Zuni trail, and La Ventana Arch. At 12.3 miles from the visitor center, turn left into the South Narrows picnic area. Park in the first part of the lot, near the entrance. The trailhead is here, near the entrance.
About the hike:
The trail starts out by climbing these step-like rocks. This is probably the steepest climb of the hike. You will be gently climbing for most of the hike.
We saw a rabbit near the trailhead. We also saw deer tracks in the area.
The trail is often sandy, and marked by cairns. Even without the cairns, it has been walked enough to be clear and easy to follow.
As you hike the trail, notice the texture and colors of the rocks.
This area is known as ``The Narrows'', because of the narrow area between the lava (where travel is difficult) and the cliffs. Imagine what people hundreds of years ago thought as they traveled this area. The trail will follow the cliff edge (at a safe distance from the edge) for the whole hike.
The colors of the rocks along this hike, augmented by the colorful varieties of lichen are one of the features.
Another main feature of this hike is the views of the lava, which you get nowhere else in the state.
The trail is always either sandy or rocky. The forest is an open one, allowing plenty of views.
When the trail is not sandy, you are walking on sandstone. You also have views of the Zuni Mountains in the distance.
Starting with the 2.5 mile marker, you will see several of these painted rocks, presumably indicating the distance you have come to this point. However, our GPS track said we had come 3.0 miles (4.9km) at this point. Similarly, at the 3 mile marker, we had hiked 3.5 miles (5.7km) according to the GPS.
The views also include volcanos to the west, as well as approaching storms (we were snowed on later in the hike).
Two views signal significant accomplishments while on this hike. First, the ponderosa pines dissappear; only the Piñon and Juniper remain. Then, you get views of Mount Taylor, like this one. These signify that you are nearing the end of the trail.
The views of the Zuni Mountains to the west remain quite nice.
Shortly after your first view of Mount Taylor, you get this great overview of the La Ventana Arch hike, from the parking lot to the arch (in the shadows on the right).
The view from the end of the trail of La Ventana Arch is (in our opinion) better than the one you get when you hike to it from below.
From here, retrace your steps to return to the trailhead.
Even dark, cloudy days are good ones for hiking. The lighting can be dramatic. The storm clouds behind this mountain mahogany had just finished snowing on us.
The snowstorm also caused the interesting texture on the sand.
The BLM information for the trail says that you might see bobcats. All we saw were these paw prints, which they may have made.
Plants we saw along the trail:
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