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Rito de la Olla (Bernardin Lake)



4.4 mile 7.1 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 1,028' 313 m
Descent: -32' -10 m
High: 9,422' 2,872 m
Low: 8,426' 2,568 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 30% (17°)


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An easy, yet satisfying ride through sub-alpine forests and wild meadows

J. Bella

Electric Mountain Bikes Not Allowed

Features -none-


From NM 68 in Ranchos de Taos, turn south onto NM 518, drive 7 miles and turn left onto Forest Road 438. Park here and ride, or keep driving on the dirt road. At .4 miles stay right and continue another 5.3 miles as the road gradually ascends along a creek. Arrive at the trailhead where there's a gate and an atv trail uphill to the left.

The Rito de la Olla trail is an old road, a continuation of 438, that has been closed to traffic for several years. Most of the trail is doubletrack that has overgrown and become decent singletrack, remnants of dirt bike jumps remain among the drainage control features and old prospecting camps where this road was built.

From the trailhead, there's a worn path to pass the gate on the right side. The trail gradually climbs alongside the creek through dense scrub and low-mountain forests. Cross the stream on a bridge and ride along the south side until you come to the next stream crossing. Here, there's part of an old bridge and an easy walk-across just beyond.

Once across the stream the trail climbs through mixed conifer and aspen forests, open meadows with wildflowers and tall grasses, and a few rock outcrops to navigate. There are some fun rolling berms and features built to ride across downed trees as the trail climbs for a few miles on the southerly aspects of Bear Wallow Ridge.

The Rito de la Olla trail ends at mile 4.4 just beyond a couple of rollers. Below the lower roller is a trail leading north to Bernadin Lake, above the rollers FR 438 continues ascending to the northeast, and there is a doubletrack on the right dropping a short ways to some cool ponds and meadows. From this point there are several long rides that can be accessed, including routes that link up with the South Boundary Trail and Garcia Park. The Cerro Vista trail begins a short ways up 438, and Bear Wallow Road (441) is about 2 miles away.

The descent can be fast and flowy in places, the upper half has more open and cruisy meadows and the lower sections of trail feel more like curvy singletrack riding. There are no extremely difficult obstacles, just a few berms to keep your speed in check and a few downed trees. This is not a heavily used trail but there are a few regular hikers and occasional horses, as well as other riders to be aware of.

This trail is better known as Bernardin Lake.

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Photos, Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, Features


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