Hike of the Week: Taos West Rim Trail

West Rim Trail-Taos

As many of you know, Sierra Club has extended the national moratorium on Sierra Club-sanctioned outings through July 4, 2021. For those of us who love the outdoors and the natural treasures that surround us, we will continue to offer outings information to our Rio Grande Chapter-wide network of friends.

This edition of the Outing of the Week features the West Rim Trail near Taos, NM. It’s part of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. As the trail’s name implies it follows along the west rim of the Rio Grande Gorge and offers stunning views of the surrounding area, including the tallest peak in New Mexico as well as the 800 foot deep Taos gorge.

In the future, the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument will make up a section of the planned Rio Grande Trail. It’s planned to go from the Colorado state line to the Texas state line and cover nearly 500 miles. More information on the Rio Grande Trail will be provided in the next issue of the Sierran newsletter and so I hope you’ll pickup a copy.

Location: Taos area (west of)
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate, 8.0 miles, 240 feet of elevation change, out & back
Hiking time: 3-4 hours
Cost: $0
Dogs: Allowed on leash
Camping: Dispersed camping is permitted on adjacent BLM land
Maps: BLM, Rio  Grande del Norte  | AllTrails

The Hike: This easy-to-moderate trail is mostly packed dirt and rock with less than 240 feet of elevation change and you can hike up to approximately 8 miles out and back, or turn-around whenever the desire strikes you. Shoulder-season weather means that there may be patches of snow, ice or mud. It’s a good idea to layer your clothing as temperatures could vary considerably in March and April in the high desert. Lastly, check the forecast before you go so that you can be appropriately prepared.

The parking area and trailhead are just west of the Taos “High” bridge off of US-64. From the trailhead proceed south. There are a number of other trails that intersect and if you’re feeling adventurous you can take one of these trails for a different perspective of the gorge. A map is provided below to aid you.

Not feeling like hiking? Take your bike or your equine companion out and enjoy this trail. There’s not just one right way to do it.

Pro Tip: Bring the 10 Essentials appropriate for a 8-mile hike over high desert terrain. Layer with seasonally appropriate apparel and supportive hiking shoes/boots. Bring sunscreen, hat, rain shell, ear band in case of cold temps, gloves, trekking poles, 1-2 liters of water, trail snacks and a camera.

To Get There: Take US-64 West from Taos until you get to the Gorge Bridge. Parking and the trailhead are just to the west of the bridge.

Be safe and have fun!

Terry Owen, Club-Rio Grande Chapter-Outings Chairman
March 4, 2021

Hike of the Week: Taos West Rim Trail