Posted on

Forests Are Closed But These Trails Are Still Open

Credit: Spencer Bushnell

It’s a historically bad year for wildfire in New Mexico, with the largest fire in state history having already burned a large chunk of the Santa Fe National Forest and now threatening the southeast corner of the Carson Forest. Both the Santa Fe and Carson forests are completely closed to all hiking and biking access as of May 19. Rangers and local law enforcement say they will be patrolling to enforce the closure, so let’s please cooperate and stay out of the forests during this dangerous and tragic time.

Fortunately there are trails on public BLM lands that remain open for now. Here’s where riding is still allowed:

Horsethief Mesa

Located north of Arroyo Hondo, the Horsethief Loop provides plenty of ups and downs to get your heart pumping and keep you on your toes. This trial is on BLM land. Fire restrictions are in place, but access is still open.

Vistas De Questa

A little further north, just past Questa is this overlooked gem of an out-and-back. It’s a solid blue/black trail with some rock gardens and punchy climbs that will test your mettle, and the old logging roads provide lots of opportunity to extend your journey.

Rift Valley

Our go-to green trail south of Taos is also on BLM land. The classic 12-mile Rift Valley Loop is only part of the Taos Valley Overlook trail network that has lots of flow, if not much punch.

West Rim / Petaca Point / Vista Verde Trails

For what we like to call “riding meditation” these trails won’t distract you much from achieving inner peace as they wind lazily through the sage along the rim of the gorge on various 2-tracks. Vista Verde has a little more going on, but is really really short. It’s a nice ad-on if you’re exploring one of the others.

Ojo Caliente

This roughly-defined network of winds through some interesting landscapes and has some good opportunities for adventurous exploration. Plus, you can soak your bones in the hot springs afterwards.

East Rim / Ute Mountain

A long-haul of a gravel-grind, the two-track network heading north from Wild Rivers has more than its fair share of remote open-country goodness. Go as far as you want, or just find a spot on the rim somewhere to relax.

Nambe Badlands

A bit of a haul from Taos but well worth the drive, the Nambe Badlands have some creative flow trails as well as some truly hairball technical riding. Note that the trails are in review, so be extra nice to everyone you meet.

These trails are likely to be more crowded than ever right now, so remember to be careful, courteous and yield or at least slow down enough to say hello to your fellow trail users. Also, leave anything that could make a spark or flame at home! Oh, and pray, dance or do whatever you do to bring on some rain!

For up-to-the-whenever trail status updates, be sure to visit