West Fork Santa Barbara Trail 25

Area Status: Open


Attractions and Considerations:   

This is the most frequently used of the trails in the Santa Barbara Divide.  This trail provides the closest access to the Truchas Lakes from the north.  No Fish Lake is located at the base of the Divide.  Although the total elevation gains over 3,000 feet, the climb is fairly gradual.

About 3 miles up the canyon on Trail 24, you will encounter the turnoff to Trail 25.  At this point the canyon branches with the Middle Fork and West Fork of the Rio Santa Barbara.  The West Fork Trail continues up the canyon which broadens into a large open meadow, where a magnificent array of wild flowers can be seen during July and August.  As you continue traveling south on Trail 25, the canyon gradually narrows again.  The trail crosses to the west side of the river about 3 miles from the Middle Fork turnoff and the trail begins to ascend high above the river in a series of long gentle switchbacks.

Chimayosos Peaks dominates the view to the northeast as the trail continues to climb up the canyon.  No Fish Lake (11,600’) can be seen along the trail just before the final ascent to the Santa Barbara Divide (12,000’).  This shallow lake will not support fish since it freezes solid during the winter months.  It is located well below the main trail.  If you wish to see it be alert and watch for the turn off as you travel up the canyon.  Camping is prohibited within 300’ of all lakes.  The divide is also the Carson/Santa Fe National Forest boundary.  Trail #25 continues to the south onto the Santa Fe to Trail #251 and Truchas Lakes (2.2 miles).

Cross-country ski travel into the Pecos Wilderness is becoming more popular.  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.

Recommended Season:

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

Map of West Fork Trail 25

View more photos on the Carson National Forest Flickr site.

At a Glance

Information Center: For more information contact:  Camino Real Ranger District.

General Information


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.


Day Hiking

Difficulty Level: Moderate


Horse Riding

Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Difficult

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
12.4 miles

  Elevation : 
8,820 feet - 11,870 feet