Horsethief Mesa Loop

Consensus:    (details)
  4.1 from 8 votes
blue  Intermediate from 7 votes
Rank: #2 in the Taos area
#23 in NM, #911 Overall
Views: 3,305. Last 30 days: 148
Condition Details | Update
May 28 Green
Featured Ride in the area near Arroyo Seco,
“This scenic loop is a great low (7200') elevation ride for when the snows arrive to higher ground.”
Peter Lamont on Nov 8, 2013
Getting There     GPX File     Print
13.020.9 milesKilometers 1,062’324 m Ascent 7,219’2,200 m High 3% Avg Grade (2°)
90% Singletrack -1,060’-323 m Descent 6,850’2,088 m Low 18% Max Grade (10°)
Like most of the trails here in the high desert, winter brings snow, and hellatious mud. I wouldn't ride this in wet conditions.
Horsethief is a great loop along the east side of the Rio Grande Gorge. Quite suitable for spring and fall, when the snows arrive on, or are slow to depart from, the higher mountain rides in the area. Great fun for an intermediate rider... all the way to a hammerhead. Down and up, and all around.

Go fast! Or simply soak in the vistas with friends.
Need To Know
You'll want to park outside the gate at the highway. When the transfer station closes... so does the gate! Don't get locked in.

This loop can be ridden either way. When the prevailing SW winds are present, a clockwise direction will have the wind at your back along the rim. Often it is ridden both ways. Just turn around, and go the other way at the junction of the dirt road!
The beginning of this ride travels to the entrance of the Hondo Transfer Station. Ride along the right side of the chain link fence, and angle left to pick up the dirt road SW.

About a mile along you'll see a definite singletrack entering from behind you on the right (go right for counter-clockwise), and a singletrack angling left from the intersection of another road. Go left for clockwise, and a couple flowing miles down to the rim of the gorge. At mile 3 you'll see a s-track hard left. Take this out and back a mile each way, if you've enough time. Great view of the John Dunn bridge from there.

If not you'll soon swing right onto the rim (N) and begin your first of many small, and sometimes challenging climbs. There will be a short section of doubletrack from which keep a sharp eye out for the singletrack going left behind a tree (small rock cairn).

There are lots of places to stop along the way. There is another left spur along the rim, but it does not go very far at all. Stay to the right and travel away from the rim to get around a large drainage (arroyo).

When in doubt stay on the singletrack as it crosses the occasional road grade. This is New Mexico... don't expect a lot of signage. :-) Have fun!
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PHOTOS of Horsethief Mesa Loop
  3.8 from 5 votes
Horsethief (Arroyo Seco, NM)
  3.5 from 4 votes
singletrack bliss! (Arroyo Seco, NM)
  3.3 from 4 votes
Just one of the many vista locations along the rim. (Arroyo Seco, NM)