Middle Fork Trail 24

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

In the summer months the trail is used for hiking, and horseback riding. In the Winter he trails are used for cross country skiing and snowshoeing.



From the Camino Real Ranger Station in Peñasco (25 miles south of Taos on NM 518) go south through town on Highway 75 to the sharp right curve and the junction of Highway 73.  Turn left on NM 73 and drive 1.5 miles.  Just before NM 73 veers right to cross over the Rio Santa Barbara, turn left onto Forest Road 116.  This road is 6 miles long and dead ends in Santa Barbara Campground, where parking, outhouses and drinking water are available.  The trailhead is at the north end of the campground loop.

Attractions and Considerations:

This trail is the access for trails 25, and 26 within the wilderness.  It takes you 12 miles up the center of the Santa Barbara drainage to a point midway along the divide and offers the most direct access to the Pecos Falls area from the north.  The trail is well marked and easy to follow.

From the Santa Barbara Campground, follow the trail up the canyon.  After entering the wilderness, the canyon narrows with dramatic rock cliffs forming a wall on either side.  About three miles upstream, you will encounter the turnoff for the West Fork Trail.  Trail 24 climbs up the hillside to the east.

After traveling three miles more through aspen groves, the trail comes down to the river into a large open meadow. A trail sign marks the turnoff to the East Fork Trail.  Trail 24 crosses the East Fork of the Santa Barbara and turns upstream.

The trail continues up the canyon on the east side of the middle fork drainage through an open meadow.   From the top of the meadow the trail crosses to the west side of the drainage, passing through occasional tributaries flowing down the hillside.  The river crossings may make traveling slow.  Be sure to stay on the trail and please do not cut switchbacks which create erosion and damage to the surrounding landscape.  The Santa Barbara Divide is also the Carson/Santa Fe National Forest boundary.  Trail #24 continues 1.8 miles to the south onto the Santa Fe to Trail #239 and Pecos Falls.

Cross-country ski travel into the Pecos Wilderness is becoming more popular with many taking day hikes on the Middle Fork Trail.  The terrain will vary along these trails with the gentlest gradient located in the first four to five miles, becoming progressively steeper.  In winter snow depth also increases here, though south slopes will sometimes have bare spots.  Be prepared for adverse weather in the wilderness, and always beware of avalanches.

Map of  Middle Fork Trail 24

At a Glance

Open Season: June
Usage: Heavy
Information Center: For more information contact:  Camino Real Ranger District.



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  Area/Length : 
12.9 miles

  Elevation : 
8,820 feet - 10,500 feet