East Fork Santa Barbara Trail 26

Area Status: Open
This area is Open


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 is the least traveled of the three trails up to Santa Barbara Divide and offers the opportunity for a more solitary wilderness experience.  The trail is well marked and is easy to follow.  The trail ends at the Jicarita Peak Ridge just northeast of the Santa Barbara Divide at the junction of Trail #36.  Bad weather, especially afternoon thunderstorms during the summer, or dense fog may make navigation difficult or impossible.

Begin on Trail 24, climbing the hillside to the east from the 24/25 junction (Middle Fork drainage).  About 3 miles up the canyon, you will reach the junction of Trails 24 and 26.  Trail 26 stays on the east bank of the river in the lower canyon.  Open meadows alternate with mixed conifer forest interspersed with stands of aspen.  Higher up the canyon, the trail begins to cross various tributaries of the east fork.  This branching continues with water cascading down the slope from various points all along the series of marshy plateau like giant steps.   Good campsites can be found in the high forested grounds among these meadows.

The way is marked and can be found easily with a sharp eye and clear weather.  Dense fog can make travel extremely difficult and, at times, impossible.   If this occurs it may be best to wait for a break in the weather before continuing.

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

Recommended Season:

Summer and fall for hiking, mountain biking and horseback and winter and early spring for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

At a Glance

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



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  Area/Length : 
10.6 miles

  Elevation : 
8,820 feet - 12,060 feet