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Spectacular scenery accessed from a well-maintained rolling gravel road.

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8,987' 2,739 m


8,484' 2,586 m


1,616' 493 m


1,615' 492 m



Avg Grade (1°)


Max Grade (8°)

Dogs No Dogs

E-Bikes Allowed

Features Views

Family Friendly A shorter "out-and-back" from the ranger station avoids the rougher terrain of the northeastern part of this loop.

Accessible from dawn to dusk, from outside of the main gate. Otherwise, see gate open/close times on Park Service website ( as they change seasonally and with conditions. No permits required for non-motorized travel. E-bikes may be subject to vehicle permitting and daily access quotas.


This 36-mile loop connects the major valleys of an enormous extinct volcano. Spectacular views of endless meadows, as well as the apocalyptic hellscapes of recent forest fires and bark beetle damage, make for an unforgettable ride. Throw in some geologic interest, and abundant wildlife and you'll find that any single day isn't enough to fully experience this place.

Though no part of this ride is difficult, altitude, deceptively close objectives, and changeable weather all conspire for a very long day. If rain somewhere on your ride is likely, plan on getting slowed down by wet trail conditions.

Need to Know

Important and noteworthy:
  • Very Few Trail Markers: Don't count on trail markers to help identify your location and the bike map provided at the ranger station yields only the coarsest of details. We encountered less than six markers, of which only one was (sort of) useful. Map and compass are handy, but only if you have a proper topographic map of the area and understand how to use a compass. A resettable digital odometer feature on a bike computer would be very useful to mark mileage between mapped crossroads.
  • High Altitude: This entire ride takes place at or above 8,500'. If, after blasting the first 20 miles in under an hour, you feel thoroughly wiped, you'll know why. Bring enough water and calories to make the last 10 miles fun, not just survivable.
  • SHARP Rocks: Just past the halfway point of this loop (of course) is perhaps the biggest objective hazard of this ride: a few short exposed stretches of obsidian bearing


Ride Details (See simplified map for mileages.)Junction with Rte 09 & Rte 02 to Junction of Rte 02 and Rte 04: Right turn onto Rte 09 heading east on a good gravel road past meadows and the river; you may see a Rte 09 sign. At a gate, the road becomes rougher and overgrown with grasses. Continue some 2 miles through Valle Toledo going through gates and pastures with a buried pipeline just off the road on your right. You might want to dismount as Rte 09 climbs up loose, rutted track into forested slopes. There may be deadfall to negotiate as you ride difficult terrain through a major fire scar. Watch for exposed obsidian bearing bedrock and mind your tires! Continue descending through pasture until you arrive at an unmarked, nondescript intersection with Rte 04. Turn right; it'll feel like you're making a U-turn. DO NOT GO THROUGH THE RED GATE! Continuing on Rte 09 past the gate and up the wooded slope will eventually land you on Pajarito Mountain!!


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D Inoobinati

Trail Ratings

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  4.2 from 10 votes
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in New Mexico


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Valles Caldera has wide open spaces - watch for elk
Dec 2, 2017 near Los Alamos, NM
A full day out guarantees your views will never be duplicated. What's beautiful in morning light can be spectacular when returning in the late afternoon.
Aug 5, 2020 near Los Alamos, NM
Sheriff Longmire's cabin. This location stood in for rural Absaroka, Wyoming in "Longmire", the long running fictional contemporary western crime series.
Aug 5, 2020 near Los Alamos, NM
South-eastward view of the end of Valle San Antonio. Far beyond lies Valle Toledo.
Aug 5, 2020 near Los Alamos, NM
Very few trail markers means a lot of time spent checking and re-checking maps. Note that there is essentially NO cell service in the preserve.
Aug 5, 2020 near Los Alamos, NM
On Rte. 02 heading northwest past Cerros Del Abbrigo on the right. Don't be fooled, those are storm clouds.
Aug 5, 2020 near Los Alamos, NM


Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 77 days ago
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Jul 17, 2022
Joaquin Ambulitorio
Deadfall cleared. A few doubletrack wide puddles. Tons of grasshoppers! Gorgeous. 36mi — 3h 45m
Dec 19, 2021
Shawn Villalpando
Aug 8, 2021
Joshua Woroniecki
One of the best trails i have done in my life. Super easy, but the views and experience are out of this world in Summer 16mi — 11h 00m
Apr 30, 2021
Kona Pusher
Stunning scenery and enormous! 31mi — 3h 40m

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