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

The Taos News - - ENVIRONMENT - By Cody Hooks chooks@taos­news.com The Taos News

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.”

Cody Hooks

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.

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