Rim Vista trail
|At the top of this trail, you are on the rim of the Valle del Rio Chama. You get amazing views of the valley, the Ghost Ranch area with its colorful geologic formations, Abiquiu Lake, the Jemez, and the Sangre de Cristo mountains. When it comes to views, this trail is probably one of the best in the state, and this is really saying something.|
|Hike data||Waypoints||Maps||Getting to the trailhead||About the hike||Plants along the trail||Comments|
When we hiked it:
|Time it took us:||5:15. 05:15. We were slower than normal; if you spend no time looking, you could probably finish in a little over two hours.|
|Usage (people/hour):||0.19. On a holiday weekend, we saw only one other hiker.|
|RIMVISTATH||Trailhead||Rim Vista trailhead|
|RIMVISTATH||Trailhead||Rim Vista trailhead|
|Map name||Cartographer||Year||Scale||Topo map?||Online access||Notes|
|Carson National Forest||US Forest Service||2002||1:126720||N||from Amazon (purchase)||Canjilon-El Rito and Tres Piedras ranger districts portion|
|Guide to Indian Country of Arizona Colorado New Mexico Utah||Automobile Club of Southern California||1998||1:0||N||from Amazon (purchase)||Good overview road map for northwest NM. No scale is given on the map. The corner coordinates are approximate.|
|Santa Fe National Forest||US Forest Service||2004||1:126720||N||from Amazon (purchase)||West half|
|Wildernesses of New Mexico||US Forest Service||1981||1:1000000||N||No online copies.||Base map with national forests, wilderness areas and highways.|
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Getting to the trailhead:
From Española, take US 84 north through Abiquiu. You will pass the turnoff for NM 96 (Abiquiu Lake), and Ghost Ranch. 2.4 miles after the Ghost Ranch turnoff, you should see the turnoff on your left for forest road (FR) 151 (a sign indicates Rio Chama as well as the forest road number). Take FR 151 which starts as asphalt, but quickly turns to dirt. After about 0.7 mi, you see a road to the right, which had a small sign indicating trail 15 is to the right. Take this road. If you have a low clearance vehicle, you may want to park here. At about 0.2 mi the road forks. The more heavily traveled road to the right is the one you want. The road dead-ends about 0.1 mile further; this is the trailhead. Note that on US 84, the Echo Ampitheater day use area is about 1.5 miles north of the turnoff to forest road 151. In the photo, the trail takes off to the left.
About the hike:
The trail is easy to follow. From the trailhead, you head across a small wash, and then up the hill on the other side. The trail climbs gently throughout the hike. The mesa top you can see in the distance is your destination.
The sign at the trailhead says 2.3 miles. However, my GPS log shows that it is closer to 2.7 miles (one way).
When you start the hike, you can see the brightly-colored banding in the rocks across the highway and also on nearby cliffs. You are walking up these bands. Watch for the varied hues of the soil, here red and a light blue-white. Other places it is yellow or orange.
Also watch for the brilliant red rocks in amongst the other rocks.
Often on trails, the really good views come only at the end, when you have hiked for miles. On this trail, they are available from the beginning. Later, you will be able to see the whole Rio Chama valley, all the way to the Sangre de Cristo mountains.
You get to see interesting geologic formations, such as these. No, I am not a geologic formation. Look behind me.
Starting at about 0.5 miles into the hike, you start to see trail markers such as this one. They are not really needed, as the trail is easy enough to follow.
The drought has killed many of the trees which hold the trail markers. As time goes on, more will end up like this one across the trail. Other trail markers are falling apart due to weathering; you may see a scattering of blue plastic at the base of a tree.
Along this trail, we saw more wildlife than we had expected, especially due to the time of day. This lizard was nice enough to pose for me. We also saw a couple of rabbits, one of which did not think we saw it (although it was keeping a close eye on us, just in case).
Unfortunately due to the drought, many of the Piñons are dying or dead. However, the Mountain Mahogany is still doing well. You can recognize it by the curly, feathery seeds.
Along parts of the trail are cryptobiotic crust. This crust is a collection of microbes that are helping prevent erosion. Stepping on the crust can kill it, allowing erosion to occur.
This ant hill with grass and opuntia was expecially nice.
In spite of the drought, some flowers still have enough water to bloom, such as this Wyoming paintbrush (Castilleja linariifolia).
As you begin to climb the steeper part of the cliff (the trail is not much steeper though), you begin to get views to the southeast. If it was not for the fires burning in Arizona reducing visibility, you would clearly see the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the distance. Closer in, you can see the Ghost Ranch area and Abiquiu reservoir.
When you are about 40 ft below the mesa top, the trail suddenly becomes steep up to the top. When you reach the top, you can see a sign. Note how you get to the sign, because the trail is indistinct for returning to this point. To add to the possible confusion, a pseudo-trail heads along the rim top.
Near the sign, this is the view you get. Well, you probably will not see Diana standing there, but the rest you should see. The view between the two trees is the one at the very top of this page.
Return via the route you took to get here. Be careful on the steep part.
If you time it so that you are heading down as the sun gets lower, the quality of the light improves.
Plants we saw along the trail:
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