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Horsethief Mesa Loop

 18 votes

13.0 Miles 20.9 Kilometers



1,062' 324 m


-1,060' -323 m


7,219' 2,200 m


6,850' 2,088 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (10°)

All Clear

6 days agoUpdate

This scenic loop is a great low (7200') elevation ride for when the snows arrive to higher ground.

Peter Lamont


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.
Dogs: Leashed

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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   Clear Rating

4.1 from 18 votes

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Aug 29, 2017
Jennifer Johnson
Aug 21, 2017
Colorado Lee
Jul 14, 2017
asia jaworowska
Jul 9, 2017
Bob Rose
Trail was in good shape. Watch for cacti if you are running with tubes. 11mi
Jul 8, 2017
Jessica Gardner
Jul 7, 2017
Bob Rose
Jun 25, 2017
VECON Sports
Jun 6, 2017
Julie Birkle
Great well maintained high desert mesa with views of Rio Grande Gorge

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Trail Ratings

  4.1 from 18 votes


in Taos


  4.1 from 18 votes
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in New Mexico


253 Views Last Month
6,569 Since Nov 8, 2013
Intermediate Intermediate



All Clear 6 days ago

Getting forecast...

New to town, I followed the directions on the write-up and found everything with no problem. This is a great ride - it was my first day riding at elevation, so it was an excellent cardio route. I had a blast and enjoyed the views. Oct 10, 2014

great fun - better than expected!! nice views!! May 10, 2015
Kirby D  
Nice desert ride. A little confusing with intersecting dirt roads, but just stay on the single track. And whatever you do, don't fall over into a cactus patch - ouch! Jul 6, 2017

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