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Horsethief Mesa Loop

 3.9 (35)

12.7 Miles 20.4 Kilometers



943' 287 m


-939' -286 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (9°)

7,216' 2,199 m


6,851' 2,088 m


Shared By Peter Lamont


Minor Issues 4 days ago
Snowy - Its cold enough to ride, but you have to deal with snow. I think clockwise is best direction for dealing with the deepest snow by going downhill. I had to push the bike up a couple of sections, but the solitude is worth it. The snow turns this blue ride into a black diamond, so be ready for the extra work. I rode this Friday afternoon from the Dump Transfer Station and went clockwise. Turned around at the far north end because I wanted to ride the S turns in (trail maintenance). No mud at 4pm, but be prepared for that to change if temps go up. cJ. History

Getting forecast...

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

Peter Lamont

Dogs Unknown

Features -none-

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!


From the gate at the entrance to County Road B-008 ride about 150 feet in and look for a fence post on the right, the singletrack begins just before this post. This mile-long trail bypasses the dirt road that is the older access route, it crosses another road behind the transfer station at about 0.35 miles and continues through pinon and juniper forests, then an open sage field before joining the Horsethief Mesa Loop.

About a mile along, you'll reach the loop. Go right for counter-clockwise, or left and pass the intersection of the old doubletrack. If you ride clockwise there's 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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Your Check-Ins


Oct 27, 2018
Corinne Reed
Aug 11, 2018
Bobby Kantz
11mi — 2h 00m
Jul 26, 2018
John Faith
Great loop with a lot of options. Super flowy fast sections mixed with some grinder short climbs. 13.9mi — 1h 40m
Jul 2, 2018
Mike Mulcahy
Trail is closed due to fire danger
Jun 10, 2018
Frank Skimahorn
Quick ride with great views of gorge. Enjoyed more than the similar Rift Valley Trail. Park on Trementina Rd per locals and the BLM website. 11.2mi — 1h 23m
May 27, 2018
Brian K
Better than I expected. Memorial day weekend and I was the only one on the trail.
May 6, 2018
Greg Weiss
Apr 1, 2018
Elizabeth Hale

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Trail Ratings

  3.9 from 35 votes


in Taos


  3.9 from 35 votes
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in Taos


in New Mexico


55 Views Last Month
9,625 Since Nov 8, 2013
Intermediate Intermediate

Closed? Jul 7, 2018
Trail is open and in perfect condition! Difficult to find the trail, but once you are on it, it is easy to follow. I spent an hour driving around dirt roads, driveways, dead end roads. A local finally pointed me in the right direction. BLM instructions were easier to follow. Trail-- Fast and fun with nice views and no people. Gets hot by about 11:00 am this time of year. . Jul 20, 2018
Ski Bum  
Scenic trail but it never seems to really get going in one direction. Lots of punchy climbs, and tight switchbacks. Easiest/quickest way to get on trail is by riding along the fence line at the dump until you hit the single track. Aug 21, 2018

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