Horsethief Mesa Loop

 12 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

27 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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4.1 from 12 votes

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Your Check-Ins


Jun 6, 2017
Julie Birkle
Great well maintained high desert mesa with views of Rio Grande Gorge
Jun 6, 2017
Staci Stallings
May 26, 2017
Cookie Renn
Super fun nothing technical but some climbs got me at this elevation! 11mi
May 6, 2017
Ryan Hubbell
Fast and fun. Good views along Grande. Better done counter clockwise
Apr 26, 2017
Ed Cox
Apr 14, 2017
Jason Douglass
Mar 12, 2017
David Kriegshauser
99% dry on March 12, 2017. Good hard ride of narrow singletrack. 11.1mi
Sep 12, 2016
David Darling
Rode clockwise — 1h 30m

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Trail Ratings

  4.1 from 12 votes


in Taos


  4.1 from 12 votes
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in Taos


in New Mexico


441 Views Last Month
5,279 Since Nov 8, 2013
Intermediate Intermediate



All Clear 27 days ago

Getting forecast...

An easier to find trail head is known locally as "Dead Truck" even though the once-upon-a-time rusted out truck is no longer there. Head west from NM 522 on Taos County Road B-001, staying on the main artery until the intersection with Spanish Peaks Road. This is your parking. Ride west on the road you were on, bearing right, keeping an eye for the single track peeling off on your right. And put a call into the local BLM office to request signage - it's time! Sep 15, 2014

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

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